La Belle Shipwreck

2012 Grant of $10,000—Dallas Chapter

La Belle is listed in the maritime archives of Rochefort as part of Louis XIV’s fleet and thus, in accordance with international maritime law, is a French naval vessel. The ship had been under the command of the famous French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, as he explored the Mississippi River and discovered its source.

After years of conservation since its excavation in 1997, a final resting place for the ship is under preparation along with other French Colonial artifacts at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

As one of the most important shipwrecks ever to be discovered in North America, La Belle is a visible testimonial to the French Colonial presence in the Mississippi Valley and Texas. The ship offers a window into the world of early 17th-century French explorations, including trading goods, muskets, munitions and other items required to establish a colony – all in remarkably good condition.

Restoration: Preservation of the hull of La Belle