The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department exhibit, “The Last of the Dreadnought Battleships,” will open on Feb. 1 at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and run through April 13. The exhibit pays homage to the Battleship TEXAS, which was commissioned 100 years ago.
The exhibit, which will highlight the history of the Battleship TEXAS in service to the United States Navy through World War II, will showcase 60 artifacts of the only surviving U.S. Navy vessel to have seen action in both world wars. Artifacts on view will include select pieces from the silver service presented to the battleship by the people of Texas, historical photographs and personal items from men who served aboard the TEXAS. A special listening station shares crewmember memories of service aboard the TEXAS during World War II.
The exhibit will be located in the Third Floor Rotunda Gallery of the Bob Bullock State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The museum will host special High Noon Talks on the Battleship TEXAS on the first Wednesday of February, March and April.
The mini-exhibit is a cooperative effort of the Bullock Museum and TPWD’s Curatorial Services, Exhibit Shop and State Historic Sites.
In 1948, the decommissioned TEXAS became the first battleship memorial museum in the U.S. and today is anchored in the Houston Ship Channel in LaPorte. TPWD took over management of the historic ship in 1983.
In the early 20th century, fleets of armored attack warships guaranteed command of the seas. To keep up, the U.S. Navy replaced the 1892 Battleship TEXAS with a larger all-big-gun “super-dreadnought” version commissioned on March 12, 1914.
A little over 1000 men lived aboard TEXAS when commissioned; the number increased to over 1,800 during WWII. Texas’s long history includes being the first U.S. Navy vessel to house a permanently assigned contingent of US Marines, the first US battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns, the first to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers (analog forerunners of today’s computers), the first to launch an aircraft from a catapult, and one of the first to use radar equipment in the US Navy.
The U.S. Navy transferred TEXAS to the State of Texas in 1948, and for over 65 years, the ship has been open as a public memorial at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, 3523 Independence Parkway South, LaPorte, Texas. Because of the Battleship’s age, key structural areas are in need of repair. TPWD is currently making critical vessel repairs to the ship’s “skeleton” so that the ship remains strong enough to hold herself up.
If you would like to find out more about volunteer opportunities or how you can support the TEXAS, visit the ship at the TPWD’s Battleship TEXAS State Historic Site or online at www.texasstateparks.gov.
A Battleship TEXAS fundraiser – a music festival headlined by Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen — will be held Saturday, March 15, at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. To order tickets and for more information, please visit: http://battleshiptexas.org