Galveston's Tall Ship, the Elissa
Galveston's Tall Ship, the Elissa
Texans know to recognize their state flag, their state bird, and their state flower. But did you know that Texas had a state Tall Ship? With the lightning fast pace of progress and change, more and more people are beginning to look back at where we have come from with a certain sense of curiosity and nostalgia. With the advent of airplanes and motorized sea vessels, travel has become an inconvenience and a bore. Long sea voyages are now only for the novelty and not out of any necessity. But not so long ago, weeks at sea were the norm for trans-Atlantic travel, and were an accepted part of getting where you wanted to go.
The Elissa, a three-masted iron-hulled sailing ship, was built in 1877 by a Scottish shipbuilding company for an English merchant. Displacing a whopping 620 tons at her current ballast, she is 205 ft from stem to stern, and just under 100 ft tall at the main mast. She has 19 sails, a combination of square and fore-and-aft sails that classify her as a barque. She sailed the high seas bringing cargo from one port to the next from all over the world, and even visited Galveston twice, once in 1883 when she traded bananas for cotton, and once in 1886.
In 1961, a marine archeologist found a badly modernized, rusted vessel named Pioneer floating in the ancient Greek port of Piraeus, under the shadow of ancient Athens. The Pioneer was about to be scrapped, but the archeologist recognized it for what it was, the hull of a 19th century iron-hulled sailing vessel. While onboard, he found the original shipbuilder’s plate, and confirmed his suspicions that this was the ship christened the Elissa. He worked tirelessly with several benefactors, first in California, then Canada, and finally in Galveston to rescue the vessel from destruction, and in 1975 the Galveston Historical Foundation purchased the Elissa. For the next five years, she was put on the National Register of Historic Places and was restored sufficiently to survive the trans-Atlantic voyage to Galveston. She arrived in Galveston on July 20th, 1979.
Since then, she has been fully restored, named as a National Historic Landmark, and officially adopted as Texas’ Tall Ship by a House Concurrent Resolution signed by Governor Rick Perry. She still sails the seas under the hands of hundreds of volunteers each spring and has made port in destinations as far as New York City and Bermuda. But her berth is at Pier 22 on Galveston Island. Anyone who wishes can board her, can walk her decks and relive the exciting unpredictable life aboard a 19th century sailing ship.
Come experience a piece of history in Galveston! And remember, whether Galveston is just a port-of-call or where you’re considering making berth, Ryson Real Estate is there to help you find the best rental or perfect home at the best price!
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