Confederate submarine set upright for first time since 1864

Confederate submarineThe H.L. Hunley made history back in 1864 when it became the first submarine to successfully attack an enemy ship. Launched by the Confederacy as a way to break the Union blockade of Southern ports during the Civil War, it sank the USS Housatonic on 17 February 1864 and itself mysteriously sank shortly thereafter.

Crew members hand cranked the propeller to make the sub move forward and its one weapon was a bomb set at the end of a long pole. The idea was to ram a ship with the bomb, which would then explode and leave a hole below the waterline. That’s what happened when the H.L. Hunley attacked one of the warships blockading Charleston harbor, but the sub never returned from its mission.

The Hunley was later found and brought to the surface. Now after several years of restoration the Confederate submarine has been placed upright for the first time since its sinking. The sub had been found resting at a 45 degree angle in a layer of silt and was kept in the same position until now. Moving it to the upright position has given researchers a look at a side of the ship unseen since 1864.

The researchers have found some holes on that side but are unsure if they are natural erosion or the cause of the Hunley’s sinking. Analysis of the bones of the eight crew members showed they died of a lack of oxygen. Interestingly, they were all at their posts as if nothing was going wrong.

You can visit the lab where this historic sub is being studied. The Warren Lasch Conservation Center is located in North Charleston, SC. You can also see a different Confederate submarine at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge.

Confederate submarine

[Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Louisiana to host new endurance race ending at Mardis Gras

Some people will do anything to get to a party. Case in point, the endurance runners who will be taking part in the inaugural Rouge-Orleans Ultramarathon scheduled to take place in Louisiana on March 4-6, 2011. The race also happens to fall on the same weekend as Mardi Gras, which has prompted race organizers to adopt the slogan “come to run, stay to party.”

The race is a true test of endurance even for supremely conditioned athletes. The course begins at the Louisiana State University Veterinary School in the state’s capital of Baton Rouge and then runs for 126.2 miles along the Mississippi River levee, before ending at Audubon Park in New Orleans. The route winds its way passed sugarcane fields, southern plantations, and mysterious swamplands as it follows the course of the river south through the Louisiana countryside. The trail rarely crosses a road along the way either, which means that the runners won’t have to worry about traffic as they go.

Competitors can enter the race in several categories, including as an individual or on relay teams consisting of two, three or six runners. On the first day of the race, there will be several wave starts to get things going, with individuals hitting the trail with runners who share a similar pace. Once out on the course, they’ll have 40 hours to complete the entire 126.2 miles, which means they’ll need to average more than 3 miles an hour in order to finish ahead of the mandatory cutoff.

Once the runners reach the finish line in New Orleans however, they can join the party at Mardi Gras. After running for more than 126 miles, I’m sure they’ll want a few adult beverages to help ease the pain in their legs and feet. Completing an event like this takes a great deal of stamina and determination, so a celebration will definitely be in order for those who manage to complete the course.

[Photo credit: Robeter via WikiMedia]

Woman dies after falling out of roller coaster in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A 21-year-old Lafayette, Louisiana, woman has died after an accident at Dixie Landin’ amusement park in Baton Rouge.

Witnesses said Lindsay Zeno fell about 30 feet from the Xtreme roller coaster at the park late Sunday afternoon.

State fire officials, who are charged with regulating the park, have said that there were no obvious mechanical failures on the ride. The ride passed its last state inspection, about a month ago.

State fire marshalls and the local sheriff’s office are continuing the accident investigation this morning.

Tadbatha Arnold, who says she witnessed the accident, told WAFB that the chest restraint on the ride was up and she saw Zeno trying to pull it down before Zeno fell from the coaster.

Xtreme is a steel roller coaster that was built in 2000. It was moved to Dixie Landin’ in 2007 from a theme park in the Netherlands. The coaster has a top speed of 37 miles per hour.