San Jacinto Battleground and Battleship Texas
Two distinctly different yet remarkably significant historical attractions lie adjacent to each other near the Houston Ship Channel 20 miles east of the city. The San Jacinto Battleground and the Battleship Texas (3523 Hwy. 134, 281/479-2431, www.tpwd.state.tx.us) tell the stories of valiant warriors in disparate settings fighting for freedom.
San Jacinto Battleground
Perhaps most significant to Texas history is the San Jacinto Battleground site, with its remarkable 570-foot-tall monument (15 feet taller than the Washington Monument) commemorating Texas’s victory for independence. The 1,200-acre site and its adjoining San Jacinto Museum of History preserve and interpret the legendary battleground where Texian troops under Gen. Sam Houston defeated the Mexican Army in an 18-minute battle on April 21, 1836. The magnificent monument—topped by a 34-foot star symbolizing the Lone Star Republic—is dedicated to the “Heroes of the Battle of San Jacinto and all others who contributed to the independence of Texas.”
The ground level houses the San Jacinto Museum of History, containing nearly 400,000 objects, documents, and books spanning 400 years of Texas history. Be sure to watch the fascinating 30-minute movie “Texas Forever! The Battle of San Jacinto.” The site’s highlight is the observation deck, a 490-foot-tall vantage point offering stunning sweeping views of the battlefield, ship channel, reflecting pool, and surrounding scenery.
Just across the street lies an important piece of the state’s history: the Battleship Texas. This impressive 1911 vessel is truly unique—it’s the only remaining battleship to serve in both World Wars I and II and was the first U.S. battleship to mount antiaircraft guns and launch an aircraft.
The mighty ship’s multiple decks reveal what life was like for the crew, who bravely defended the stars and stripes during crucial combat situations while enduring overcrowded conditions. The elaborate system of massive guns remains impressive, and visitors can occupy one of the artillery seats to get a feel for the challenging precision required to operate the heavy machinery. Head below deck to see the cramped cots, officers’ quarters, galley, engine room, medical facilities, and other slices of life to get a true appreciation for the distinguished service provided by the men of the Texas.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition