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Tall Ship Elissa

Texas State Tall Ship

Tall ship Elissa in Galveston, TX; photo by Texasbubba on Flickr (use permitted with attribution / no derivative works).

Official State Tall Ship of Texas

Texas designated tall ship Elissa as the official state tall ship in 2005 (the state ship, the U.S.S. Texas, was adopted in 1995). All State Ships

House Concurrent Resolution

WHEREAS, The history of Texas is not complete without recognition of the ships, seaports, and maritime heritage that contributed so greatly to the development, economy, immigration, and culture of the state in the 19th  century, and the state's preeminent symbol of this thrilling bygone era is the tall ship Elissa; and

WHEREAS, In the 1970s, the city of Galveston was looking for a ship to complement the restoration and redevelopment of the Strand, known in the 1800s as the Wall Street of the South, and to help Texans recognize and interpret the state's maritime heritage; and

WHEREAS, Constructed in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Elissa is a three-masted, iron-hulled tall ship of the "barque" type, measuring 205 feet long and 99 feet, 9 inches high at the mainmast, with a cargo capacity  equivalent to that of eight railroad boxcars; and

WHEREAS, Elissa transported a variety of goods around the world over the course of her more than 90 years of commercial history, first calling at Galveston in December 1883 with a cargo of bananas and one passenger, then sailing for Liverpool, England, with a cargo of cotton, and calling at Galveston again in September 1886 with a cargo of what was probably lumber or sugar and sailing for Pensacola, Florida, in ballast; and

WHEREAS, Built at the dawn of the steamship era, Elissa filled a niche in maritime commerce, calling on many ports, and she was sold from owner to owner, sailing under different names before being readied for the scrap  yards of Piraeus, Greece, where she was recognized by a maritime archeologist; and

WHEREAS, Elissa was acquired by the Galveston Historical Foundation in 1975, and after some initial work in Greece, she was towed in 1978 to the Royal Navy yard in Gibraltar; that same year, Elissa was placed on the  National Register of Historic Places, becoming the first object to achieve this status while outside the territorial limits of the United States; and

WHEREAS, In 1979, Elissa returned to Galveston, her former port of call and new home, and intensive efforts began to raise funding and restore her to her 1877 sailing configuration; that goal achieved, Elissa sailed again on the Gulf of Mexico in September 1982; and

WHEREAS, Elissa is preserved and maintained by her volunteer crew, who donate thousands of hours annually and sail her at least once a year to preserve the seamanship skills of square-rig handling for future  generations, providing guests with the rare opportunity to sail on a historic vessel; and

WHEREAS, Restored to her former glory as a seaworthy sailing ship, Elissa is an irreplaceable piece of living history, and her stature is underscored by her designation as one of "America's Treasures" by the National Trust  for Historic Preservation and as a National Historic Landmark; and

WHEREAS, Elissa, with the support of the Texas Seaport Museum, provides students and the public with a rare opportunity to visualize the maritime heritage and culture of Texas and its coastal waters; and

WHEREAS, Even today, the sight of Elissa in full sail evokes the color and excitement of the age of sailing ships, and this vibrant reminder of an essential piece of our shared history, representing Texas, is indeed deserving of special recognition; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 79th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate Elissa the official tall ship of Texas.