For more than 70 years, the San Jacinto Battleground State Park in La Porte has been home to the USS Texas, a historic vessel which currently holds the distinction of being the only existing battleship to have fought in both World War I and World War II. Today, the ship serves as a living museum, offering visitors a captivating look at a pivotal era in maritime history.
Soon, however, Battleship Texas will be moved to a new home on the Gulf Coast.
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a bill which transfers operation of the battleship from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to a nonprofit organization called the Battlefield Texas Foundation. This bill also appropriates $35 million for repairs to the ships hull, under the condition that the ship is relocated from San Jacinto to a new, more profitable location that can draw at least 300,000 visitors a year. The ship attracts just 80,000 visitors annually at its current location and loses between $750,000 and $1 million a year.
While the extensive hull repairs are certainly good news for Battleship Texas, there’s a good chance the century-old vessel won’t be returning to Harris County once it departs later this year. Several communities elsewhere along the Gulf Coast – including Galveston and Corpus Christi – are currently competing to become a new permanent home for the ship.
Since the Battlefield Texas Foundation announced that the ship will be temporarily closed to the public starting on August 26, Harris County residents have been flocking to the ship by the hundreds, hoping to take one last tour of the ship before it departs for repairs.
“It’s impressive how they did it all by hand,” said one visitor in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle. “They didn’t have computers at that time. I’m impressed with the workmanship, the use of hydraulics.”
The Battlefield Texas Foundation says it may keep the ship open on weekends in September and October, but its days in Harris County are likely numbered. If you haven’t had a chance to tour the USS Texas in the past, be sure to pay it a visit sooner rather than later.
To learn more, stay tuned for the latest updates from our blog!