What do you know about the Confederate submarine named Pioneer? Was it preserved?
The Pioneer was designed in 1862 by James McClintock, who worked along with Baxter Watson and Horace L. Hunley. The three men later teamed up to design and build two other famous Confederate submarines. In McClintock's own words, written after the Civil War, he described it this way: "At New Orleans in 1862 we built the first boat. She was made of iron one-quarter-inch thick. The boat was of cigar shape, 30 feet long and 4 feet in diameter. This first boat demonstrated to us that we could construct a boat that would move at will in any direction desired, and at any distance from the surface. As we were unable to see objects passing under the water, the first boat was steered by compass." The boat was constructed at the Leeds foundry at Delord and Constance streets.
The Pioneer carried a floating mine on top of her hull that would be released and pulled through the water. Timing was really important as the intention was for the mine to explode against the side of the targeted ship while the submarine went safely under and past. The tests were conducted in Lake Pontchartrain, and the Pioneer was ready for action.
The original Pioneer was constructed in response to President Lincoln's blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi River and the Atlantic coast. It was hoped that the Pioneer and other submarines like her would be able to break through the blockade. However, the Union forces were on the way to New Orleans, and to keep the Pioneer out of their hands, it was sunk in the New Basin Canal.
Some time later, the submarine was discovered and brought to shore where Federal experts sent drawings to Washington, D.C. On Feb. 15, 1868, The New Orleans Picayune reported that the Pioneer submarine was sold for scrap metal.
Lucky for them, McClintock, Watson and Hunley managed to escape to Mobile, Ala., right before the Union forces invaded New Orleans. In Mobile, the three designed and built the Pioneer II and the most famous Confederate submarine of all, the CSS Hunley.
In 1878, a Confederate submarine thought to be the Pioneer was found in Bayou St. John. It was shuttled about from the Spanish Fort Amusement Park to Camp Nicholls, a home for Confederate soldiers on Moss Street, to a spot on the Decatur Street side of Jackson Square to the breezeway outside the Presbytere. In December 1999, this submarine was analyzed, restored and is now on display at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge.
I heard a rumor that Dixie Chicken and Ribs was reopening. If it is, do you know when?
I have a surprise for you. Dixie Chicken and Ribs is open now. It is located at 6264 Argonne Blvd., just off Harrison Avenue. The last time I went to this popular restaurant, its hours were from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number is 488-1377. One can dine there, pick up a meal or have it delivered. You can't ask for more than that.
Do you know the original route of the Old Hammond Highway from New Orleans? Did it tie in with Hwy. 51 in Frenier?
Hammond Highway was the main road folks used to get to Hammond from New Orleans in the early 20th century. It went along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain following natural ridges. Hammond Highway extended as far as Williams Boulevard in Kenner, and maps of the 1930s and '40s show that a road connected it to Hwy. 51 leading toward Hammond.
U.S. Hwy. 51 and I-55 are virtually the same for a while as the highway travels north toward Hammond. They separate again just south of Ponchatoula. To drive to Frenier, take I-10 west. Shortly after the intersection with I-55 take Exit 209 north toward Hammond. This leads to a part of U.S. 51 that is separate from the Interstate. Continue on Hwy. 51 and soon you will come to Peavine Road, which will take you to the small town of Frenier in St. John the Baptist Parish.