New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Submarine Races?

Early in the Civil War, the Confederate government authorized citizens to operate armed warships as 'privateers.' A New Orleans consortium headed by cotton broker H.L. Hunley gained approval for the operation of Pioneer, a 34-foot-long submarine designed and built by James McClintock. The boat held three persons, one to steer and two to crank the propeller.

In a March 1862 demonstration on Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain, a submerged Pioneer sank a barge with a towed floating torpedo. In April 1862, the U.S. Navy captured New Orleans, and its builders scuttled Pioneer. Soon discovered, the boat was sold for scrap in 1868.

The photo shows A Civil War-era submarine that was long thought to be Pioneer but is not. This one was discovered in the lake and raised in 1878 and is on display at the Louisiana State Museum. Its true origin remains a mystery.