|OLG and DCRT
2016-17 through 2021-22
The Atchafalaya Heritage Area has been designated by Congress as a National Heritage Area.
At some point, probably in the 1930s, previous custodians of the submarine poured concrete into the hull in a misguided attempt to retain the vessel's overall structure. However, it caused the hull to corrode. Extracting the concrete has been one of the more difficult aspects of the conservation project, but as it was poured over successive, separating layers of sheet metal and wire mesh, the layering effect somewhat facilitated its removal. To date, all of the concrete has been removed from the lower hull. Mechanisms used to control the aft and forward rudders that were formerly hidden have been exposed. Also uncovered were three gear-like objects, each approximately one foot long, imbedded in portions of the keel. The remains of a wooden beam running the length of the keel were also found following removal of the concrete. Samples of the wood were sent to the US Forest Products Laboratory for analysis. Unfortunately, the condition of the wood prevented researchers from identifying the species.
The corrosive effects of the concrete are dramatically visible. Large areas of the rudder shafts have expanded from the high moisture content of the cement. They are encrusted with rust to almost twice their original size. Portions of the keel and hull exhibit similar effects, with the lower hull missing most of its original plating. Stabilization of these areas is now being addressed including reinforcement of fragile areas, and a protective coating applied to all of the artifact's parts.
Following completion of the conservation process, the State Museum will construct a display mount in which the submarine will be supported for exhibition. Housed in a controlled environment, the submarine will form an integral part of the State Museum's new Baton Rouge branch's exhibits on major events in Louisiana history. Interpretive text and displays will illustrate the vessel's place in the State's maritime and Civil War history.
The Azby Fund and the Institute for Museum and Library Services awarded grants totaling $84,400 to the Louisiana State Museum for the submarine conservation project.
Suggested Reading List
Campbell, R. Thomas The CSS H. L. Hunley: Confederate Submarine. Burd Street Press, 2000
Lambousy, Greg Monster of the Deep: The Louisiana State Museum's Civil War-Era Submarine. Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Louisiana, Lafayette 2006
Lambousy, Greg “A Mystery of the Deep,” Louisiana Life, Summer 2001
Perry, Milton F. Infernal Machines: The Story of Confederate Submarine and Mine Warfare. LSU Press 1985
Ragan, Mark K. The Hunley: Submarines, Sacrifice, & Success in the Civil War. Narwhal Press Inc. 1999
Ragan, Mark K. Union and Confederate Submarine Warfare in the Civil War. Savas Publishing. 1999
Ragan, Mark K. Submarine Warfare in the Civil War. Da Capo Press. 2002
Wills, Richard K. "The Confederate Privateer Pioneer and the Development of Confederate Submersible Watercraft," The Institute of Nautical Archaeology Quarterly 21 (Spring/Summer 1994) 12-19.
Wills, Richard K. “The Louisiana State Museum Vessel: A Historical and Archaeological Analysis of an American