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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1877 Tall Ship ELISSA Reviews
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  • October 3, 2017
    Beautiful ship. Fully restored. Took my kids to see it. Very rare find. I hope it survived the Hurricane Harvey. We saw it in August. It would be a tremendous and historical loss. We also took the har...  more »
  • September 19, 2017
    This is part of a larger tour. The main exhibit hall gives you a brief history of the Elissa and has a neat interactive area to look at immigration thru Galveston. What I didn't like was the actual sh...  more »
  • September 17, 2017
    This is still a working tall ship! While it's not very big, you get to walk through it and see what life was like on a tall ship in the late 1800's. It was not glamorous, and this ship helps to separa...  more »

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