Historians in Alabama are examining a mysterious shipwreck that washed ashore when Tropical Storm Isaac passed through the area. Large remains of a wooden ship were found on the beach after Isaac wrested the wreck from the ocean's grip.
The hull of the ship -- estimated to be about 150 feet long -- attracted people to the beach near Fort Morgan, Ala. Remnants of the boat were visible during Hurricane Camille (1969), Hurricane Ivan (2004) and Hurricane Ike (2008), although gawkers could only partially see the wreckage because it was covered by sand. The ship's hull was never entirely visible until now, according to ABC News.
Local historian Mike Bailey told reporters the mysterious shipwreck really isn't so mysterious at all. He said it's what remains of the Rachel, a schooner built in Pascagoula, Miss., in 1918. At the time, the Rachel had three masts and -- at 150 feet -- it was the largest ship in the shipyard.
Bailey said the schooner was designed to transport lumber, but there's a possibility it sank while carrying alcohol. It ran aground in 1923, at the height of Prohibition.
"A tropical storm much like Tropical Storm Isaac, what we just went through, was hitting the Gulf Coast," Bailey told the Associated Press. "A large number of these schooners were out in the gulf at the time and several of them were damaged ... The Rachel -- because she was running light -- was at the mercy of the wind and the waves."
"The legend is that she was carrying illegal liquor. That's unconfirmed -- and nobody who might know what cargo she was carrying seems to want to say ... so that's the mystery."
There has been talk the ship dated from the pre-Civil War era, but Bailey dismissed those rumors outright. He also reported seeing the ship around seven times in recent years.
This discovery follows last month's news that Italian divers found the remains of a Roman shipwreck off the coast of Genoa. The ship dated back 2,000 years and contained still-sealed clay jars that were thought to be carrying Roman food between ports. The ship had been damaged by fisherman but otherwise remained in remarkable condition, considering it went down around 130 B.C.