Since 1973 it’s possible that some rock may have fallen from the roof of the cavern, and it’s also possible that debris from further up in the shaft may have fallen into the cavity, piling up on the floor. So the shape and height of the cavity today may be a bit different from what it was in 1973.
This cavity has been the target of many dives, camera inspections, and sonic investigations and it appears that more work may be planned at 10X for the future. But people who are serious about resolving some of Oak Island’s mysteries should understand the history of the shaft we now call 10X.
During the summer and fall of 1969, the Triton Alliance had been drilling a series of exploratory boreholes in the vicinity of the Money Pit, when Dan Blankenship used his dowsing skills to find an apparent anomaly about 180 feet northeast of the Money Pit. That became the location for Borehole 10. In those days Dan was supervising all the work at site, and he reported periodically to David Tobias in Montreal. Here is Dan Blankenship’s Nov 29, 1969 report to Tobias. It’s a bit long, but if you will bear with me, you’ll see how important it is to report Blankenship’s exact words:
“Hole #10: 181 feet east of #24 (2), by the door of the old Restall house.
We started with a 9 inch rock bit (3) and went very fast through overburden and glacial till. We hit a small cavity from 140 feet to 143 feet and another from 165 feet to 169 feet (4) and hit bedrock at 185 feet of gypsum (5). We drove 10 feet into bedrock with the 9 inch bit and stopped at 195 feet at which point we put on the 6 inch rock bit in order to leave a shelf in case we hit a cavity, for our casing to seat into (6). We drilled down to 195 feet at which point his hydraulic motor for his rotary head broke. He pulled 25 feet off the bottom and it stayed for 5 days until he had a new motor. When we continued, we hit a cavity at 230 feet to 233 feet (7). I was standing there and my orders were to stop the rotary immediately when he hit a cavity. This he did, and lowered the drill until it stopped at 233 feet with no turning. He then pulled the bit out and put on his 6 inch core barrel 22 feet long which is supposed to take a 3 inch core. At this time there wasn’t any casing in the hole, so in order to get the core barrel down to the bottom without getting clogged with the debris in the hole, Bowmaster (8) tied a red rag on the end of the bit with wire and lowered it to 233 feet, at which time he turned his air on which operates at high pressure and started turning his drill. He cored for about 1 foot to 234 feet and because he wasn’t getting his return (9) back decided to pull out and see what was in the core barrel. Only a few pieces of gypsum were there, and so we pulled out of the hole and went down to do hole #9.
After #9 was finished I talked Bowmaster into casing the hole [Author’s note: meaning Hole #10] in lieu of the second hole which he owed me.
He put down 124 feet of casing before it stopped and hung up. He put the 6 inch rock drill inside and drilled to 150 feet. The casing then went to 148 feet before it hung up again, at which time he again put the drill back down into the casing and drilled. At this time Joe Stein (10) came onto the site and was present. Bowmaster was using air and the return was very good. I was collecting the return that was coming out and I noticed bits of rag and small pieces of metal (11). This metal and rags came up from about 166 feet to 175 feet. It is very important to note at this time a lot of water was coming up and upon tasting it I discovered it was salt. We collected a quart bottle of it and Joe Stein took it back to the laboratory with him.
We continued drilling down to 198 feet and then drove the casing to 178 feet. While driving this, the last piece of casing broke off 14 feet below ground level. The next day I took the samples to Halifax and we had a conference call that evening. Friday, the next day I used a backhoe and dug down and cut the casing. Not having a welder, I put a 16 foot long piece of 8 inch diameter casing over the 6 inch and back filled in preparation for Warnock-Hersey (12). Friday evening they came and unloaded gear and set up.
Saturday they came and started dropping 3 ½ inch casing inside Bowmaster’s 6 inch casing and it went easy to about 212 feet at which time they started drilling it down. They then put a roller cone bit on and drilled inside of their casing. The drilling was hard at first and then eased up, breaking through of its own weight at about 218 feet (13). [Please be sure to read footnote #13]. The 3.5 inch casing was then turned for about 1.5 inches into bedrock, which interesting enough was 237.5 feet. This measurement was exact. I went back to Bowmaster and he is positive his depth was no lower than 234 to 235 feet. I believe the measurements are correct. Bill’s machine has a scale marked every 1 foot with every 5 feet in large numbers. I measured the core barrel with Joe Stein and it is 22 feet and his rods are 25 feet. The difference of 3 feet is very important.
After the 3 ½ inch casing was seated, Warnock Hersey started coring with a 2 ½ inch core barrel 5 feet long. They just started coring when it was quite evident that the 3 ½ inch casing was loose and bouncing around. We were using water and no water came back.
We cored for 5 feet but only recovered 2 feet 6 inches which was the top of the hole which we were interested in. It was pure gypsum.
Decided to pull out of the hole and pulled 24 feet of 3 ½ inch casing and casing jammed and machine broke. They took the part to Halifax and didn’t return until Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning Warnock Hersey put down a split spoon and had no recovery. I had made a bailer at the machine shop on Monday and we tried that. The first time he came up with about 2 feet of sand, in which was a small piece of metal, the same as that found with Bill Bowmaster. After repeated tries he came up with about 6 pieces of this small metal and a little piece of the red rag that Bowmaster had used.
A very important point to remember is that when we started with the syfon tube the sand was at 212 feet. The bottom of the hole was 237 feet 6 inches less the 24 feet of casing pulled out which meant that the bottom of the casing was 213 feet 6 inches down.
The recovery while Warnock Hersey was working was sand, gravel and a piece of granite rock every so often. The fact that the metal was still near the bottom of the hole lead me to believe that it was coming from that depth. However later events proved me wrong. It was decided to continue with a churn drill as this would bail out the hole the fastest.
At this time I had to redig the casing down to 15 feet below the surface with a backhoe again so I could weld the 6 inch pipe back on. This was done and backfilled.
We set up over the hole with Harold Verge’s (14) churn drill and drove the casing down 10 feet to begin with. This meant from 176 feet to 186 feet. He then started to bail out the hole. The sand was so tight that he had to use his drill in order to loosen it up, after which he would alternate with the bailer. The hole was at 210 feet when the churn drill started.
He started bringing up pieces of metal almost immediately and continued until he reached about 232 feet 6 inches and the material was sand, gravel and a small piece of granite rock every so often. We noticed that the bottom of the hole would fill up about 2 feet over night and so drove the casing another 2 feet to 188 feet.
It was thought at this time that the metal was coming from the bottom of the hole and so we decided to blast. We blasted and bailed out a total of 4 times at the bottom of the hole. It was during this time that we started getting clay in pieces and also pieces of gypsum rock. However no metal at all came out. I did get a large amount of cement-like material that later proved to be natural. We then terminated the drilling with Harold Verge and he pulled out.
After consulting with Bill Bowmaster, it was agreed the metal came from higher up. The drilling at 215 feet had been hard and soft with a little drop of 2 feet. I set up a tripod with Gerald Dorey about 30 feet high and rented a gasoline-driven hoist that would pick up about 1200 pounds. Harold Verge loaned me his bailer and his cable, I purchased a case of dynamite in Halifax.
We then started systematically to blast and bail at the bottom of the hole and worked our way up. The blasting was done with two sticks of 2 inch by 8 inch of 75% dynamite using a cap for each stick and this was done every 2 feet and bailed out each time to 232 feet. The total height reached was 215 feet at which point we put a total of 5 sticks 2 inch by 8 inch. After blasting we could hear the rocks falling in, about 4 times and dropped our measuring rock down and found that a total of 12 feet had piled at the bottom of the hole. This was after dark Saturday night and so nobody would get hurt we quit work and started to bail out Monday morning at which time only 6 feet was piled at the bottom of the hole, so the blasting done at the bottom had to be extensive. We bailed the hole out again to 232 feet and not one piece of metal was found. It was then painfully plain that the metal came from higher up behind the casing and that driving the casing had effectively sealed it off as well as sealed the sand and rocks.
The hole was then sealed and the equipment taken back to Halifax. It should also be noted that we made an electric magnet and dropped it to the bottom of the hole before activating and pulled it slowly up the hole without any effect. This was of course done before any blasting.
[This ends Dan Blankenship’s report on borehole 10]
So there you have it: borehole 10, (which later became shaft 10X when the hole was widened to accept a 27 inch casing) was first drilled as an open hole using a 9 inch diameter bit through the glacial till and a 6 inch diameter bit through the bedrock. The zone from 217 to 230 feet was drilled without incident, indicating that it was bedrock (15) and a small cavity was found from 230 feet to 233 feet. The big cavity that we know today, which extended from a depth of 217 feet to about 233 feet, was caused by systematically blasting and then bailing out the broken rock from the bottom of the cavity (16). From other field notes prepared by Dan Blankenship, we know that he blasted in this zone a total of 14 times. Here is an illustration which summarizes the blasting:
This is why I started today’s article with a statement that the 10X cavity was man-made. Dan Blankenship created the cavity by blasting, during November 1969. There are no ancient artifacts in this cavity – there couldn’t be. Before 1969, the “cavity” was continuous weathered bedrock. Everything “seen” on video images and sonic surveys in the cavity since 1969 is either recent materials dropped down the 27 inch shaft, or drill casings misinterpreted as support posts, or shadows created by down-hole lights, or pieces of rock that have been misinterpreted as ancient artifacts, a dead body or treasure chests. An early down-hole video seemed to show a horizontal tunnel, but that too has turned out to be another misinterpretation. (17)
Writing this article has been particularly painful for me. Dan Blankenship is a good man. He has shown himself over and over again to be a hard-working, resourceful and particularly brave Searcher. He has stuck to the Oak Island search for over 50 years and he is still at it. I have met and talked with Dan several times and I am convinced that he is motivated to solve some of the mysteries of Oak Island and I am certain that he has never had any intention of misleading or wasting search efforts on 10X for any underhanded reasons. Dan Blankenship is an honest guy and I do not like reporting in a way that contradicts his observations and beliefs, and yet I think serious readers should know the truth about how 10X was created.
So why has 10X become the obsession that it seems today, when it is obvious that there is nothing in the cavity? I think the answer is a result of several things:
When the first 9 inch “open” drill hole was advanced through the glacial till, no remarkable metal pieces or other artifacts were found. But when casing was later installed in the same hole, a double handful of strange metal pieces were recovered as the casing was being advanced. They consisted of bits of “ferrous rolled metal”, according to an expert from Stelco, who examined them.
These metal pieces, and Dan Blankenship’s observation that the 3.5 inch drill bit fell under its own weight when drilling from 218 to 237.5 convinced him that a treasure cavern had been found. I think he forgot that the 3.5 inch drilling was done in the same hole created by the 6 inch drilling done earlier, and of course the smaller drill string would fall down the larger, previously-drilled hole.
We know from other field reports, that Dan Blankenship initiated the down-hole blasting activities because he thought the metal and the false appearance of a cavity meant that he had found a treasure-filled cavern and he used explosives to blast open some of the presumed treasure chests, and he bailed the material from the hole after each blast, hoping to recover coins that had been blown from the treasure chests.
At first I thought that the explanation for the metal pieces found at hole 10 in 1969 came from the opening line in Dan’s report to David Tobias: The hole was located “by the door of the old Restall house”. I said to myself: “How did Restall get water for his house??” We know the site is on glacial till, so he must have had a drilled well that went down to the fractured anhydrite bedrock, because no useful amount of water could be recovered from the low permeability till. “Where would the well be located?” I asked myself – and the answer I thought was “close to the back door, no doubt”. But then I learned that the Restalls did not have a water well. Mildred Restall told a researcher that her boys had to carry fresh water from the swamp, and it had to be boiled before it could be used. So I’m guessing that the pieces of metal that Dan Blankenship found, could have been pieces of another old well (18) or abandoned drill casing from earlier investigations. The tungsten carbide teeth of Dan’s modern drilling equipment would have broken up an older, more brittle, partly rusted pipe if it was run into. In fact, the site of an old drilled well or casing could be the explanation of why and how Dan Blankenship found the location for 10X – when he dowsed in the area, the water source for the well and the old metal pipe itself would have been an attractive dowsing target. The pipe used for drilled wells and old drill casings would have been “ferrous rolled metal”, as described by Stelco. That’s how pipes are made – by rolling flat steel sheets, bending them into pipe shapes.
Another possible source of Dan’s strange metal pieces is that someone could have dropped some old metal down the drill hole after the workers had quit work for the day – such actions do occur occasionally on the most mundane drill project. A further possibility, although I think the probability is remote, is remnants or artifacts of tunneling activity done by the Halifax Company dating from 1866 and 1867. We know that the Halifax Company energetically dug quite a few tunnels at a base depth of 110 feet, in their efforts to locate the Flood Tunnel – but there are no plans or drawings that show where those old workings were constructed.
There is another inconvenient fact relating to hole 10 and shaft 10X. When the hole was widened to about 8 feet in diameter, by installing a steel casing from the surface to a depth of 181 feet, the soil that was excavated was carefully examined. No unusual artifacts or apparent source of the unexplained metal pieces was found in all of that excavated material, although a few small individual metal pieces could possibly have been overlooked.
The main point of interest for serious Searchers at Oak Island has always been the Money Pit. It was bad luck that led Dan Blankenship to find an old water well or drill casing or whatever was the source of the metal pieces, when he dowsed to determine the place to drill hole 10. And it was more bad luck for Dan’s drilling to actually hit part of that old metal, break it up and return strange pieces of metal where he was hoping to find a treasure cavern. That led to high explosive blasting and bailing that created the current cavity – and 45 years of exploration of the deep cavity at 10X, where there are no ancient artifacts or old treasure to be found.
I think it is time to close the book on 10X and focus future work on the Money Pit. No one has explained the wood/clay/wood/6 feet of space sequence under 30 feet of bedrock that was found by the Becker drilling right beside the Money Pit. That is a real mystery with very promising possibilities for treasure Searchers.
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
Editors and Chief Correspondents
Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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