Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Mariners' Museum, Part One: Entrance and American Civil War

A couple of rainy Sundays ago, I packed up my wife and son and took off to the Mariner's Museum located up the road in Newport News, Virginia. I had been planning a trip to the museum for years, but never got around to it. Having visited today, I could kick myself for not having visited earlier.

The museum is one of the premier attractions in the Hampton Roads area and prides itself as the home of the original turret of the USS Monitor. The famous battle between "the Monitor and the Merrimac" occurred only a short distance away from the museum. (ed. it was actually a battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, which was remodeled from the captured USS Merrimac into a gunship).

The visit turned out to be much more. The miniature ship collection of August Crabtree is purported to be one of the finest, if not the finest, miniature ship collections in the world. It was truly awesome, and I had no idea that the museum housed this outstanding exhibit.

There were entire sections covering World War 2, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and even the Napoleonic Wars (with a huge section dedicated to Admiral Nelson).

This is just part one of the blog post, focusing on the entrance and the museum's section covering the famous battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia.

If you are in the area, you must visit this museum. You will not be disappointed. These pictures do not do the museum justice; it really is a hidden gem in Tidewater, Virginia.

As we entered the museum, we were met with several interesting artifacts.


The entrance to the museum, guarded by 2 Spanish harbor cannon




This Spanish 24 lb cannon guarded Fortress Cabana in Havana Cuba and is dated 1721 and displays the coat of arms of Phiulip V, King of Spain


This beauty also helped guard Fortress Cabana and is dated 1746. It displays the coat of arms of Spanish King Ferdinand VI


Upon entering the museum, you are greeted with the figurehead of the HMS Formidable, dated 1825



The Eagle Figurehead of the USS Lancaster, circa 1881

The jewel of the museum is its USS Monitor section, housing items and educational materials of both the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia.

Entering the American Civil War section, here is a 9" Dahlgren gun from the CSS Virginia that was shot away by the USS Cumberland


The USS Monitor's Engine Room Clock


A full scale model of the CSS Virginia



Personal items purportedly owned by the Captain of the CSS Virginia



The museum has a myriad of educational displays posted throughout



More detailed info on the CSS Virginia, including the ship's wheel



A reconstruction on what the USS Monitor's turret looked like when discovered




A modern-day view the turret house




Built by the Newport News Shipyard, this full-scale reconstruction of the USS Monitor lies outside the doors



The actual turret of the USS Monitor is painstakingly preserved


These pictures really do not do the museum justice. The Mariner's Museum is an incredible national treasure. An up-close and personal visit is highly recommended. The pictures above are not to be used for any commercial purposes and are meant to merely educate and entice others to visit this superb museum. 

Next:  The Crabtree collection, the Napoleonic Wars, and other eras