A Famous Steam Ship Is Buried Under the Lake Charles Civic Center
Have you ever taken the time to walk the Lake Charles Civic Center grounds? If you have, maybe you have noticed the buried time capsules near the flag poles.
There is also a marker not far from the flag poles that pays homage to a famous paddlewheel steamship. It was named the Borealis Rex. The steamer's final resting place is marked by a granite stone which is inscribed with the words:
Wharf Site of Borealis Rex – Stern wheeled steamboat built in 1888. Sole transportation from Lake Charles to Leesburg (Cameron) Sunk by hurricane 1918 raised 1919 served until 1930
The Borealis Rex was built in Minnesota and arrived by way of the Gulf of Mexico. It was a wonder the steamer managed to dodge the Gulf’s rough water and swells to arrive in Calcasieu Parish. Steamboats were not made to handle those kinds of conditions in the late 1800s.
The 146-foot-long by 36-foot-wide boat was used for serious business by day. She often made the eight hour round trip from Lake Charles to Cameron several times a week, transporting cattle, people, and Model–T Fords for purchase. During the evening hours, the Rex was transformed into a floating paradise for parties, show bands, dances, and joy rides.
Progressive roadways eventually halted all operation of the Borealis Rex, and she was moored for good at her Pujo St. wharf. As the years passed, the Rex began to rot into the bottom of Lake Charles. Her boilers and other metals were salvaged for war materials.
You can visit the granite marker in front of the Lake Charles Civic Center and know you are standing above a piece of Louisiana history.