Friday, March 23, 2012

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

We spent one day downtown Baton Rouge, the capitol of Louisiana touring the State Capitol building, the State Museum and the USS Kidd destroyer.

"Bâton-Rouge" dates back to 1699, when French explorer Sieur d'Iberville leading an exploration party up the Mississippi River saw a reddish cypress pole festooned with bloody animals and fish that marked the boundary between Houma and Bayou Goula tribal hunting grounds. They called the tree "le bâton-rouge," or 'the red stick'."

The capitol houses the Louisiana State Legislature, the governor's office, and parts of the executive branch. At 450 feet (137 meters) tall, with 34 stories, it is the tallest capitol building in the United States, the tallest building in Baton Rouge, and the seventh-tallest building in Louisiana.

Looking up from the base.

LOTS of stairs....(we took the elevator underneath)

View from the south across the front gardens. Senate chambers to the left, House chambers to the right.

This photo shows some of the ornate sculptures and those gorgeous Louisiana clouds in the distance.

Panorama looking south, southwest and southeast.

It is located on a 27-acre (110,000 m2) tract, which includes the capitol gardens. View from the
Observation Deck is on the 27th floor and overlooks Baton Rouge at a height of 350 feet.

The Mississippi River looking west with tugs pushing barges downriver towards New Orleans.

Mississippi River looking SW downriver.

Senate chambers. Very elegantly decorated everywhere.

Front entrance looking from the Senate chambers down to the House chambers.
Good followup website:

Next, we walked across the ground in front over to the Louisiana State Museum. Nice, nice place. Great overview of Louisiana's history.

Of course, Louis Armstrong is one of the icons of Louisiana...HUGE display on him.

The models, including this steamboat, were amazing in their detail.

The smiling dude in the foreground is only there to show the scale of the model....ignore him and take a look at all the "ropes" that were put in place on this model. What patience to put them all in one by one!

A full-sized shrimp boat was on display. Remember Forest Gump..."shrimp burgers, shrimp grits, shrimp fries...."?

The last place we went to was the destroyer USS Kidd along the side of the Mississippi River and attached to the Ship and Nautical Center museum next to it.

Why is the USS KIDD out of water?
This question is usually heard during the fall and winter months.  The level of the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge fluctuates as much as 40 feet per year.  When the snow melts in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains and throughout the Midwest, the floodwaters travel down the Mississippi.  When this happens, the KIDD floats.  When the summer droughts come and the river drops, the KIDD sits down in a specially-designed cradle to await the spring floods.  During the fall and winter, you can actually walk underneath the ship.  Imagine 2,050 tons of warship sitting above your head!!!

One of the kitchens on board...image cooking here for dozens of guys while at sea and the ship is being tossed around by waves and wind?

This is an anti-aircraft gun. One person (in this case, me) does the vertical direction and the man on the other side controls the horizontal direction by turning the wheel clockwise or counter-clockwise...and this is all while the incoming plane is shooting at you !

5-inch guns.
USS Kidd (DD-661), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died on the bridge of his flagship USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Kidd was the first US Navy flag officer to die during World War II.
 The museum was very very interesting in that it held dozens of models of planes, tanks, ships, subs, old ships...many many.


USS Arizona

The HMS Victory was Admiral Horatio Nelson's flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar.

SS Sultana

I used to put together models as a kid, especially planes so it was very cool to see all the models. Of course, these were put together with a lot more precision than I ever did!

Full size P-40E Warhawk fighter plane on display at the museum

Recreation of a fighting deck on the USS Constitution.

These guns must've really recoiled when shot.

I bet these were loud when they went off

Downtown Baton Rouge was much more interesting than we thought it would be. We usually stay away from cities....glad we did not do that with Baton Rouge.

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