The Battleship TEXAS, or BB-35, was a U.S. Navy ship between 1914 and 1948, and is the last surviving U.S. Navy vessel that fought in both world wars. It’s traveled more than 728,000 miles (1 million kilometers) and was the only U.S. battleship to see combat in Africa, the Pacific and Europe in World War II.
Today, the beloved vessel has been preserved within the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, a short drive from downtown Houston. Walk the decks, maneuver huge anti-aircraft guns and explore the ship’s many corridors. It still looks as it did in 1945: the living and eating areas, post office, radio room, engines, guns and steering rooms have all been restored. See all this on a self-guided tour of the ship.
For a real sense of the history, call ahead and book a place on a Hard Hat Guided Tour, which runs October through May. These tours take you deeper into the ship, to areas that aren’t normally open to the public, and provide insight into daily life in the Navy.
The TEXAS has its own battles now. It’s beginning to leak and in need of restoration. Some sections are closed to the public for good, and several times the entire ship has been closed while holes are mended. Volunteers are working hard with Texas Parks and Wildlife to continue to restore it and keep it open to the public. The more visitors that come here the better, as a portion of the entry fees are set aside for restoration efforts.
Spend some time exploring the surrounding Historic Site, including the San Jacinto Monument and San Jacinto battleground, where the battle for an independent Texas was fought and won.
The Battleship TEXAS is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Houston. It’s open to the public daily, and free parking is available.