Bayou St. John Confederate Submarine – Baton Rouge, Louisiana - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Bayou St. John Confederate Submarine

A mysterious find dredged from Louisiana waters. 

In 1878, workers dredging the Bayou St. John made a very strange discovery: a submarine, right out of Jules Verne.

Thought to have been built around 1862, the so-called Confederate Submarine is 20 feet long, made of riveted iron and powered by a hand-cranked propeller. For years the strange craft was left on the shores, and then later displayed at the Spanish Fort amusement park where it was identified incorrectly as the other famous Civil War submarine, the Pioneer, which was in reality scuttled for scrap after the war.

Little is known about the actual story of this odd piece of technology, but it has found a new home and a better state of preservation at the Louisiana State Museum.

Another, more famous early submarine (and a sibling to the Pioneer mentioned above), the H. L. Hunley Submarine, was discovered in 1995 and is currently being conserved and studied in Charleston, South Carolina.