GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) - Only a shell of what she once was, the 150 foot sailing vessel thought to be the Rachael, is attracting attention again on Fort Morgan. Word had spread that the storm surge from Hurricane Isaac had uncovered her once again and plenty of folks came with their cameras.
The Rachael was an early 20th century schooner that ran aground. Buried for decades, hurricanes expose what's left of the vessel every few years.
"It's just something that you really have to go see," said Adriana Mutan as she walked around the burnt wreckage taking pictures. "I mean, I've seen so many pictures…heard so many stories and now I've seen it."
According to the Alabama Historical Commission, the three mast schooner met her fate in 1930 while carrying a load of timber. Commission archeologists Amanda Hill said the belief is the vessel ran into a storm and had too few crew aboard to maintain control. According to interviews with witnesses that were alive at the time of the wreck, the ship was looted of its cargo and set on fire.
The ship has been exposed several times over the decades from beach erosion during hurricanes. The last time was during hurricane Ike several years ago. There was always speculation as to its origin. Many even thought it may have been a blockade runner during the Civil War. Assistant Professor, Greg Cook of the University of West Florida helped put those rumors to bed after doing a study of the vessel in 2008.
He noted that many of the riggings were post Civil War and dated to the early 20th century. After some more digging, it's believed that the Rachael was designed and built in Moss Point, MS in 1919.
Billy Berrey grew up in Gulf Shores and remembers seeing the ship as a child. It's now closer in than ever and he's worried about the amount of attention it gets.
"I've always thought it would be kind of cool for them to excavate this thing and move it…preserve what they can and take it to the museum," said Berrey. "The last time it was uncovered, people were pulling things off of it."
There is a problem. The ship now rests on private property and the folks that own the homes are concerned about liability in the event someone gets hurt by the wreckage. They would like to see, at very least, the ship covered up.
The Alabama Historical Commission looked into that after hurricane Ike but found that it would cost too much to do anything with it and since it's on private property, the owners would have to foot the bill. They did say they would assist if someone else funded the effort.
For now, the ship will sit until Mother Nature decides to cover her back up once again. Owners just ask that sightseers like Dusty Bones and his family respect their property while they visit.
"We really like history. We like going to see things like the Battleship and stuff like that, so to see a piece of this is really interesting."
Although much is now known about the ship than just a few years ago, there is still much mystery and intrigue. Who was on board and where were they going? Was it a hurricane or just a bad storm that caused her to run aground? They're all questions that keep visitors coming to the little stretch of beach with they're cameras ready to capture a little piece of history.
As college football prepares for the final Bowl Championship Series, featuring a Florida State-Auburn championship game, it's easy to see why the coming four-team playoff won't solve all the postseason problems.
On a routine trip to the Piggly Wiggly store in Foley Mitchell Harrison and Betty Ann Williams found something they weren't expecting to need.
In a rare meeting between two of the nation's most storied programs, No. 3 Alabama and No. 11 Oklahoma will face off Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl at New Orleans.
Robertsdale police say a man was the victim of a hit and run Saturday, around 30 minutes before the start of the city's annual Christmas parade.
Temps Continue Their Roller Coaster with a Big Cool Down Arriving Later Today....
Fox10 learns more about a man arrested on multiple counts of sodomy and enticing a child.