Mariner’s Museum – Newport News, VA

Saturday was a full day at the Mariner’s Museum.  We arrived about an hour after opening and pretty much had the place to ourselves.  We spent the next 45 minutes with Jaques-Michel Cousteau watching “Mysteries of the Unseen World” in 3D.  It was so cool and colorful I felt like I was diving with him.

Then came the walking part.  The museum houses the actual turret and many of the artifacts from the USS Monitor.  It was the first ironclad of the Union and battled the Confederate CSS Virginia.  Though the ships battled for four hours, the steel plating on each vessel prevented either from being significantly damaged.  The Monitor eventually went down off the coast of North Carolina in a storm.  It was a hundred years before it was discovered and was recovered in 2002.  This single battle change the future of naval warfare forever, from wooden ships to steel-hulled ships.

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There is a full size replica of the exterior of the ship outside the museum and several models of the interior inside.  The actual turret and Dahlgren Guns, (for you Navy men) huge cannons for the rest of us, is part of the 200 tons of artifacts that were recovered, and are visible inside a lab submersed in water where electrolysis is being used to removed the salt from the steel before they are actually allowed to dry out.   The sign said it may take up to 20 years to remove all the salt.

CSS Monitor

The propeller of the USS Monitor

The propeller of the USS Monitor

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One of the Dahlgren Guns of the CSS Virginia.  It was formerly the USS Merrimack until it was captured my Confederate soldiers and renamed.

I took a lot more pictures at the museum, but for some reason most of them disappeared off my iPhone.  Isn’t tech wonderful?  Here is a link to photos others have taken. http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/the-mariners-museum-and-park-newport-news?start=60

This place has the best collection of carved ship’s figureheads in the US  Here are a couple.

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The 19 foot, 3200 pound carved figurehead of the USS Lancaster

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My lovely assistant gives perspective to the size of this piece.  The sculptor was paid $35.00 to carve this.

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There are entire rooms in the museums with impressive scale model replicas of ships, full size ships, working models of engines used in many of the ships, replicas of the captain’s quarters compared to the sailers quarters (RHIP for you military men), food provisions, and so much more.  One of the more amusing things was the invention of toilets that were designed to flush up.  This was done by turning a series of valves in a particular order.  If done in the wrong order, let’s just say you don’t want to be on the receiving end.

After a full day, we were ready to go back to our little home on wheels and relax.  Lynette fixed a great meal of Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, tossed salad with an olive oil and vinegar dressing, and toasted Italian bread.

Since we were both a bit tired, we decided to hold off on going to the beach on Sunday and do it later in the week.  One of the benefits of not having a tight schedule.

Tomorrow is another full day as we continue our adventure RVingthecountry.

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