Special exhibit: "Discoveries from the Mardi Gras Shipwreck" - In the early 1800s, a ship sank 40 miles off Louisiana's coast in 4,000 feet of water. When it was discovered in 2001, it was dubbed the "Mardi Gras shipwreck" by an oilfield inspection crew using remove observation vehicles to survey for a new natural gas pipeline named Mardi Gras. The ship was later identified as the privateer vessel Rapid, which set sail in 1813 and capsized during a storm. Artifacts on display include a spyglass, cannonballs, nautical supplies, and everyday items like bottles, plates, and silverware. Free. Through May 30.
Just downriver from New Orleans in Chalmette is the site of the January 8, 1815, Battle of New Orleans: Chalmette Battlefield. Many people believe that this last great battle of the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain was unnecessary, since the treaty ending the war was signed in late 1814, but the war was not over. The resounding American victory at the Battle of New Orleans soon became a symbol of a new idea: American democracy triumphing over the old European ideas of aristocracy and entitlement. General Andrew Jackson's hastily assembled army had won the day against a battle-hardened and numerically superior British force. Americans took great pride in the victory and for decades celebrated January 8 as a national holiday, just like the Fourth of July.
Learn about the War of 1812 from visitor center films and exhibits. Kids can earn a badge with the Junior Ranger program. The center's museum store has books, period music, reproductions of items from the period, and children's books. Admission is free. Learn about the visitor center (dedicated on January 8, 2011) and see a map of the site that includes troop movements from the Battle of New Orleans. Follow these links for the park's calendar of events, exhibits, and programs; for directions and transportation options; and for accessibility information.
8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette
The battlefield visitor center and the entrance gates to the battlefield and to Chalmette National Cemetery (just downriver from the battlefield) are open Tuesday-Saturday, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.. The visitor center is closed on Sunday, Monday, and all federal holidays other than Memorial Day and Veterans Day. On Sunday-Monday and on all federal holidays other than Memorial Day and Veterans Day, entrance gates to the battlefield and to the national cemetery open by 9:30 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m. The battlefield and national cemetery are completely closed on Mardi Gras (Tuesday, February 17, in 2015). Links to useful information like maps, public transportation, pets, permits for special uses, etc., are available on the basic information page. The paddlewheeler Creole Queen travels from New Orleans' French Quarter to the battlefield; visit the Creole Queen website for sailing times and ticket information.
Chalmette Monument, the battlefield's 100-foot-high obelisk that honors the troops of the Battle of New Orleans, is open on Friday and Saturday 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Visitors may climb the 122 interior steps to the top where there is a viewing platform. Children climbing the monument's interior steps should be accompanied by an adult. Climb carefully and do not rush: this is a moderate climb, but steps and handrail may be slick in wet or humid weather. The stairs are narrow and there is little room to pass other climbers or to turn around, so maximum capacity is 10 adults.
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