Katrina reveals a piece of history

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DAUPHIN ISLAND, ALA. -- Armed with a short shovel, Glenn Forest crouched in the sand under one of the hundreds of Hurricane Katrina-wrecked homes on this island's west end.

He uncovered a section of wooden hull here, a length of iron-ringed mast there -- indications, he said, of a possibly historic 45-foot ship fragment.

Hours earlier, he had stopped a repair crew at the house from breaking up the structure.

"They were going to cut it up and haul it to the dump. This could be an important piece of Alabama history," said Forest, a marine archaeologist from Mobile, this week. "We can't let that happen."

Forest said the wreckage could be a portion of the 19th century clipper ship Robert H. Dixey, which sank near the mouth of Mobile Bay after striking a sand bar during a hurricane in 1860.

The 165-foot clipper ship was built in Boston in 1855 and was used to haul merchandise, mainly cotton, from Mobile to Eastern Europe.

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