The course of naval warfare changed on February 17, 1864, when the Confederate submarine Hunley sank the Union vessel Housatonic just a couple of miles off the coast of Charleston. The Hunley sank for reasons unknown after the attack and lay at the bottom of the sea until raised in 2000 and brought to its current home on the old Navy base in North Charleston. Archeologists continue to explore the mysteries of the Hunley, but the facility is open to the public for tours at the same time. It may take a little exploring of your own to find the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, but the route is reasonably well marked with street signs. Public tours are only given on Saturdays and Sundays so plan your visit accordingly. Despite these limitations and an admission charge (currently $12) this is a must see attraction for anyone interested in military history and the Civil War. The tour will take you into the lab where the Hunley rests in a special tank. You can't touch it, but seeing it is worth the trip. Well-informed volunteers will tell you the story and then you'll get the chance to see some of the recovered and restored artifacts. Don't miss the diamond brooch and Lt. Dixon's gold coin. Of course you'll exit through the souvenir shop with a chance to buy everything Hunley, but that's okay. It's all for a good cause. I suggest you follow your Hunley visit with a trip to Magnolia Cemetery where you will find the burial site for all three crews who died during the brief life of this fascinating war machine.
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