TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
Custom Search

Galveston Hotels

Corpus Christi Hotels

Galveston, Texas

A Girl of Many Ports

Texas’ “Official” Tall Ship

by Luke Warm

Photographs by Ken Rudine, November 5, 2007,
Corpus Christi
On the 130th Anniversary of the Elissa

Elissa by  jetty,  heat wave, Corpus Christi Bay TX

The Elissa - Texas’ “Official” Tall Ship
(Now berthed just off the Strand on Galveston Island – at Pier 21.)
Photographer's Note: "Although the temperature was 65 degrees, the heat wave distortion gave this photo a watercolor effect." - KR

A Scottish Birth

Launched in 1877 in Aberdeen Scotland, the Elissa is an iron-hulled, square-rigged bargue. I62 feet long with a deck length of 152 feet, the Elissa is the Official “Tall Ship” of Texas and is owned by the Galveston Historical Foundation.

Her 19 sails comprise 12,000 square feet of “synthetic canvas.”

Elissa began hauling coal and spent most of her life as a her career as a tramp freighter - picking up whatever cargo was available for delivery to whatever port was receiving.

Her American ports of call included New York, Boston, Savannah, and Pensacola. She made at least two visits to Galveston (1883 and 1886), unaware that it would eventually become her permanent home over one hundred years later.

She and her sister sailing freighters were threatened with extinction by the steam freighters that could “sail” without needing wind. Damaged in a storm, the ship was sold in the late 1890s to a Norwegian company where she carried freight for 14 years as the Fjeld.

In 1912 she was bought by a Swede and again renamed. Now named Gustaf and registered as a Swedish ship, an engine was installed in 1918 and her rigging partially removed, making her technically a barkentine.

Her Scandinavian tour continued in 1930 when she was registered as a Finnish vessel and underwent a refitting that transformed her into a schooner. She remained in frigid waters hauling lumber for the next three decades, until she was bought by a Greek firm in 1960.

Under the new name of Christophoros, she had nearly all rigging removed and became little more than a motorized barge. In 1967 she changed hands again and although she remained Greek, her name became Achaios.

Her fall from grace was complete when she became a smuggleroperating in the Adriatic

Her hull was recognized by a curator of the National Maritime Historical Society and in 1970 she was purchased for restoration. The curator, Peter Throckmorton even went to the drastic extreme of mortgaging his home to purchase the ship from her law-breaking owners.

For purposes of negotiation, the ship was briefly renamed Pioneer, but after purchase she once again became Elissa.

In 1974 the Elissa was purchased by the Galveston Historical Foundation, as a complement to the restoration of the Strand.

She was the oldest listed square-rigged ship in Lloyd's of London Registry of Shipping. In 1978 the Elissa became the first foreign item to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

July 20, 1979 she arrived in Galveston to undergo a three-year restoration.

In December 1978 the ship began the first leg of her long voyage to Galveston; she was towed to Gibraltar, where she passed the winter. On June 25, 1979, she was towed out of Gibraltar and set sail for Texas; she arrived off Galveston on A dockside celebration with flags and bunting and bands was held in Galveston on August 4 to honor the arrival.

On the 4th of July 1982, she officially became a Galveston tourist attraction. She maintains her sea-worthiness year-round and makes occasional voyages – notably the 1986 trip to NYC to celebrate the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty.

The Elissa is now berthed just off the Strand on Galveston Island – at Pier 21.

© John Troesser

Elissa leaving harbor under engine power
Elissa leaving harbor under engine power.

Photographer's Note:

Elissa leaving Corpus Christi after Harvest Moon Regatta

At 25 miles from where it was moored in Corpus Christi the Elissa is under engine power. First image is just at the Corpus Christi side of the ferry crossing to Port Aransas from the pier at the end of Station Street. After the lighthouse shot we moved to the end of East Cotter street and the channel to the Gulf. The final shot, with most sails finally unfurled, was distorted by heat waves. - Ken Rudine, November 06, 2007

Elissa bow, Corpus Christi Bay TX
The bow and figurehead.
Elissa sailing Corpus Christi Bay TX
A view of the Elissa without the multitude of small boats that were accompaning her that day.
Elissa passes Lydia Ann Lighthouse, Corpus Christi Bay TX
Elissa passes the Lydia Ann Lighthouse (two miles distant)
Lydia Ann Lighthouse TX
The Lydia Ann Lighthouse
Elissa, unfurling of the sails
Unfurling the sails
Elissa's stern, Corpus Christi Bay TX
Elissa's stern and the lateest flag she's sailed under.
Elissa, pilot boat , tankers, and seagull,  Corpus Christi Bay TX
Elissa, pilot boat, and two tankers keeping a respectful distance
Elissa and tanker , Corpus Christi Bay TX
1877 meets 2007: Elissa and tanker
Above photos courtesy Ken Rudine, November 2007

See Galveston, Texas

Related Topics:
Texas Gulf Coast | Texas Towns | Texas Images

Book Hotel Here:
Galveston Hotels | Corpus Christi Hotels | More Hotels

Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.






















































































































  • Central Texas - North
  • Central Texas - South
  • East Texas
  • West Texas
  • South Texas
  • Texas Hill Country
  • Texas Panhandle
  • Texas Gulf Coast

    Texas Towns A - Z

    Texas Ghost Towns

    Texas Architecture

    Texas Topics

    Texas History

    Columns - History/Opinion

  • All Texas Towns :
    Gulf Gulf Coast East East Texas North Central North Central Woutn Central South Panhandle Panhandle
    South South Texas Hill Hill Country West West Texas Ghost Ghost Towns counties COUNTIES


    Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast

    Texas Attractions
    People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
    COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

    Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
    Vintage Photos


    Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
    Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved