Monday, September 10, 2012

Ships: A Mysterious Situation

The apparently burned-to-the-waterline hulk above is a strange artifact which hurricane Isaac brought to an Alabama beach. The mysteries surrounding this little piece of history are numerous, but one in particular seems to be the proverbial elephant in the room.

As noted in this article from Yahoo! online, the boat is thought to be the Monticello, a Confederate blockade runner that plied her trade in smuggled goods along the shores of Mobile Bay. Most probably, her demise came at the hands of Admiral David Farragut when he "damn the torpedoes!" -ed his way into the last stronghold of the Confederate Navy in 1864. The other likely end for her was being burned by her owners and abandoned in their effort to avoid prosecution by the Union invaders. A classic story that has seen many a ship or boat sacrificed to the needs of her crew.

On the other hand, as the article goes on to say, the ship may be another kind of more recent smuggler. That boat might be a rum runner from that disastrous era the U.S. now refers to as "prohibition." In this scenario the boat - nameless in this case - would have also been destroyed by those using her to smuggle hooch. Once again, to reduce their chances of being caught by the authorities.

These are the two most likely, and probably most colorful, possibilities for the origin of this relic. But, to my mind, they are not the most head-scratching. From the article:

This is actually the fourth time parts of the wreckage have become visible over the years, after it firs made an appearance following hurricane Camille in 1969. It reappeared in 2004 after hurricane Ivan and again in 2008 after hurricane Ike.

As a student of archaeology, I am hard pressed to imagine why this fascinating artifact of American history is left to quite literally rot and simply be speculated on by tourists and online journalists. Evidently, though, that is the only thing we can think of to do as far as this little time capsule is concerned. The article ends with a quote from the Meyer Vacation Rentals Facebook page:

This is the most visible it has been in recent years. Eventually the shifting sands will pull it back under the beach, where it will slumber until another storm is powerful enough to bring it back to the surface.


Header: Monticello (perhaps) via Yahoo! online via Meyer Vacation Rentals on Facebook


Charles L. Wallace said...

It's truly ironic - sometimes we know more about something which happened hundreds of years ago than something which happened decades ago (especially when the remains lie beneath our nosies).

Of course, if I had a time machine, I'd probably go to ther Hamburg Star Club in early 1962... haha! ;-)

Pauline said...

I'm brought to mind of the girl in my daughter's 10th grade history class who, when Woodstock was mentioned in passing, asked: "What's Woodstock?"

Timmy! said...

It seems like it wouldn't be that difficult for someone to solve the mystery, but nobody seems to want to make the effort, Pauline... Which is the obviously frustrating part of the story.

Bob said...

A story from 3 days later, also on Yahoo!, indicates it to be the schooner Rachel.

Pauline said...

Timmy!: I may get a little more worked up about this kind of stuff than most people, given my background. But still...

Bob: Good eye, mate! Thankee for adding this info, and more on your discovery in today's post.