For a small island, there are really quite a few things to do on Galveston Island. One of the things we decided to try with our limited time was to visit the Texas Seaport Museum on the harbor.
By itself, the place really isn’t all that, but seeing as how it only costs like $8 to get in and you can find coupons for an extra buck or two off that everywhere, it’s worth it. What brings it up to a recommendable level is that you can, for a mere dollar, add-on the 30-minute film about the great hurricane of 1900, which killed over 6,000 people. This fee also includes a self-guided tour of the Tall Ship Elissa.
The museum itself is on two stories and consists mainly of pictures on the walls depicting Victorian life in Galveston with accompanying descriptive plaques. Yawn. There are a few reproductions of galleys and various offices here also… and a few real things from the port from back in the day. Yeah yeah. What stands out here though would be of interest to genealogy buffs: They offer computer access to all the records of immigrants who came in through this port through the years. That’s pretty cool.
As for touring the Elissa, well, that part was way cool. She was built in 1877 and is still a fully functioning ship. Since I’m not a sailor-kinda buff, I’ll give ya the blurb from the official website on the ship stats:
ELISSA is a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland by Alexander Hall & Company. She carries nineteen sails covering over one-quarter of an acre in surface area. Tall ships are classified by the configuration of their sailing rig. In Elissa’s case, she is a ‘barque’ because she carries square and fore-and-aft sails on her fore and mainmasts, but only fore-and-aft sails on her mizzenmast. From her stern to the tip of her jib boom she measures 205 feet. Her height is 99 feet, 9 inches at the main mast and she displaces about 620 tons at her current ballast. ~ http://www.tsm-elissa.org/elissa-main.htm
It’s really pretty cool to walk around this ship. You get to go into the crew’s cramped quarters and then into the comparatively spacious Captain’s den, see the galley, steer the ship and all that kinda stuff. Very interesting, all of it. Do be advised though that this is not for the handicapped. There are several spots where it is necessary to navigate stairs. One set coming out of the Captain’s area is seriously treacherous to climb up. You’ve been warned.
The movie part on that killer hurricane isn’t really a movie, but rather a series of still photos with narrative in the background. Not an award winner, mind you, but it will keep your attention pretty good… especially if you’re ever been in a hurricane yourself.
I was surprised to find out from this ‘film’ that the big ol’ Seawall I’d been seeing along Galveston’s beaches was put in place after this hurricane to protect the island in the future. This was done at great expense, but has been worth the cost many times over in both lives and property saved. Several modern-day cities should perhaps see this film…
The gift shop is very small but done very cute. They have some nice Polo shirts, stickers, books, etc and they are not unreasonably priced.
This is one attraction that I have to say is 4 out of 5 stars when figuring the bang-for-the-buck. Go ahead, you may even learn a thang or two.