Galveston Historic Seaport - Home of the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, Galveston

#3 of 11 in Museums in Galveston
History Museum · Landmark
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 jibboom 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. But, she is much more than iron, wood and canvas.

Unlike some tall ships of today ELISSA is not a replica, but a survivor. She was built during the decline of the "Age of Sail" to fill a niche in maritime commerce. Over her 90-year commercial history she carried a variety of cargos to ports around the world, for a succession of owners. Her working life as a freighter came to an end in Piraeus Harbor, Greece, where she was rescued from the scrap yard by a variety of ship preservationists who refused to let her die. The story of ELISSA's discovery and restoration is nothing short of miraculous, and is beautifully retold in photographs and a video presentation at the Texas Seaport Museum.

Today ELISSA is much more than an artifact from a bygone era. She is a fully-functional vessel that continues to sail annually during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to Galveston Historical Foundation and its commitment to bring history to life, combined with the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who keep her seaworthy and train each year to sail her, ELISSA and the art of 19th Century square-rigged sailing are alive and well.

The name and image of ELISSA are registered trademarks of Galveston Historical Foundation.
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Galveston Historic Seaport - Home of the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA reviews

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783 reviews
  • We love history and especially old ships. This one didn’t disappoint. Great self guided tour on main level and below deck. Also fun to see the docks with other ships.  more »
  • No reservations required. I puchased a ticket in the gift shop. There's a stand outside where you also can purchase a ticket. I paid the $10 admission fee, which allowed me to board the ship and go...  more »
  • DO NOT GET MARRIED HERE. We had the most beautiful wedding here and that is thanks to every other vendor we hired to make our day great. The event coordinator first sent a contradictory contract that states you can add time for a fee but also cannot arrive before 5. We fought tooth and nail to get more time and we received confirmation that we could load in 30 minutes earlier. However, we arrived yesterday and they wouldn’t let my vendors load in because they chose to schedule a sailing training which also ran past 5pm regardless of the agreed upon earlier start time. My fiancé went to speak to Tanya who is an employee at the museum and she SCREAMED at him saying he needs to get over himself and can wait. Great treatment of guests who paid to use your venue on their wedding day. On top of this instance, every other time we visited there has been cat feces all around the outdoor areas and they keep unsafe conditions with tools and hardware and other items laying around every time we have visited for venue walkthroughs. We have asked about it a number of times and the excuse is always “it’s a working dock, it is what it is” Okay fine, but if you’re renting it out to guests you should take it upon yourself to remove these items for events due to unsafe and unsanitary conditions. This is the only regret I have about my wedding day. I lost precious time for photos I’ll never get back and I feel that this venue robbed me of that. I think if you’re having a smaller, casual event it would be better because set up may not be as much but I do not recommend it for a wedding. They need to figure out something more professional, flexible, and train their employees on customer service before continuing to rent out.
  • My kids loved being able to go onto an actual sailing vessel. We also took the tour and had an excellent time. Our tour guide was funny and engaging as well as knowledgeable. We were able to see dolphins and had some swim very close to the boat. We always enjoy taking this tour.
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