MADISONVILLE, La. (WGNO) — On the banks of the Tchefuncte River, on what was once the site of a massive shipyard, there’s a treasure trove of maritime history.

“Professor Alan Saltus, who is an underwater archeologist, was doing work in the lake and in the Tchefuncte River looking for artifacts basically. Found a bunch. As they found different artifacts, it became obvious that we needed to display them for the people of Louisiana,” said Maritime Museum Louisiana Executive Director Jim MacPherson.

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum is a place that shines a light on all things nautical, from shipwrecks to submarines.

“We’ve got a replica of the Pioneer One, which was the predecessor to the Hunley. Hunley was the first submarine to sink a warship,” said MacPherson.

It’s the Louisiana steamboat on the outside, but this replica is actually a movie theater. On the inside, a collection of films lets visitors dig even deeper into the nautical history of this region.

Lots of the exhibits are interactive. Shaping Watersheds is one of the most popular.

“What we do is allow the kids to see how watersheds work. What we do with the kids is we build a lake up on top of the mountain and only in real life 3-D,” said MacPherson.

You can also visit Gulf Coast lighthouses, past and present.

“The lighthouse exhibit was built by Nelson Pleasants. He got actual U.S. Lighthouse Administration drawings and built them from those, and then he added some historical accuracy.”

The original Tchefuncte lighthouse keeper’s cottage was moved here when the museum opened in 2001. Now, it’s used for weddings and special events.

“If it has to do with Louisiana’s maritime history, we have an interest in it.”

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