Thursday, June 2, 2011

Civil War Shipwreck Discovered!!!!!

 GULF SHORES, Ala.) - A missing piece of Alabama's History has been found buried near the mouth of Mobile Bay.

A local exploration group has discovered the remains of a merchant ship from the late 1800's.

Researchers say the Amstel ran aground on a sand bar during the Civil War.

It then rotted away over four years. Today a bell found in the wreckage rang for the first time in more than 150 years.

The bronze cast bell along with dozens of stone slabs were discovered on board what was left of the merchant ship, the British "Bark Amstel."

"Where was all this cargo going?  Where was this bell going?" asked David Anderson with Fathom Exploration.

Anderson along with State Archaeologists thought the Amstel dated back to the early 1900's but a closer look at the bell revealed the cargo and the ship dated back to 1861 at the start of the Civil War.

The ship ran aground in the Gulf and at the time Union troops had just started a blockade in the area which made it impossible to salvage the ship.

"What we see when we see that cargo is a lot of material for a large public building of some type; a large church, town hall , university, something like that.  There was a large construction project in 1861 that never was finished because this boat didn't come ashore, " says Anderson.

The bell holds the clues, the answers to a mystery that is now part of Alabama's history.

What happens next is in the hands of the State Archaeologists and the Federal courts. "This is something we haven't done a lot of.  Its quite expensive.  We need these private and public partnerships to be able to do, " says State Archaeologist Stacye Hathorn. "I would say that Alabama has a deep and rich maritime history that you don't see very often and we hope to bring that history more to the public eye, " says Anderson.

The bell and some of the Amstel's other cargo will be on display at Lulu's in Gulf Shores for several weeks to come. Explorers say removing all of the artifacts could take up to five years.

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