Ike helps to uncover mystery vessel

When the waves from Hurricane Ike receded, they left behind a mystery – a ragged shipwreck that archeologists say could be a two-masted Civil War schooner that ran aground in 1862 or another ship from some 70 years later.

The wreck, about six miles from Fort Morgan, had been partially uncovered when Hurricane Camille cleared away sand in 1969.

Researchers at the time identified it as the Monticello, a battleship that partially burned when it crashed trying to get past the U.S. Navy and into Mobile Bay during the Civil War.

After examining photos of the wreck post-Ike, Museum of Mobile marine archaeologist Shea McLean agreed it is likely the Monticello, which ran aground in 1862 after sailing from Havana, according to Navy records.

Other clues indicate it could be an early 20th-century schooner that ran aground on the Alabama coast in 1933.

Glenn Forest, another archaeologist who examined the wreck, said a full identification would require excavation. “It's a valuable artifact,” he said.