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1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, Galveston

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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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473 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Well restored view into the past. Lovely nautical adventure visiting this active sailing ship. What it must have been like to live and experience life during the time of the Elissa. Well done.  more »
  • Being a fan of old ships in general, I got to explore this tall ship as part of the Harbor Tour (which included a guided boat tour of Galveston Harbor and access to the Texas Seaport Museum). Very coo...  more »
  • You should tour the Elissa prior to visiting its museum and seeing the film about the ship. It provides a good education regarding the history of the ship and how it arrived in Galveston. I have an en...  more »

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Where to stay in Galveston

When choosing accommodations in Galveston, remember that the closer you stay to the water, the more you are likely to pay. Top prices usually get you a spacious room packed with modern amenities plus sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico. You can save a bundle by staying away from the city's popular beachfront. If your home away from home is on wheels, consider one of Galveston's RV parks and resorts.
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