San Jacinto State Park, Houston
The main reason we came to this park was to see the view from the top of the monument. But when we got there, the monument was closed for remodeling. The base of the Monument houses the San Jacinto Museum of History. We didn't see that either. All we could do was take photos of the outside.
The real highlight of this state park is the Battleship Texas. This ship was commissioned in 1914 and served through both World Wars. It fought at the Tampico Incident, fended off U-Boats in both wars, protected allied men at Omaha Beach, and then provided support in the Pacific at the end of the war. The battleship has also appeared in numerous movies as itself and other ships.
I visited the park right before the the ship's anniversary and the tour guide was excellent. He gave details about the conditions on the ship, and how the sailors lived during both wars. There were a lot of changes to the artillery and to the crew quarters. Details about things like shower use made it come alive. The ship is largely open and free for you to explore deep into the crew decks or to the top of the super structure.
There is also a concession stand at the park that has cold drinks on a hot day.
Mexican general Santa Anna had become a little power hungry. Unfortunately for him he met a small band of determined Texans led by General Sam Houston. At a very opportune time the Texans attacked an unprepared Mexican division, scattered them, captured Santa Anna and won their right to live in Texas. Because of the consequences of the Texan win and the later success of the US in the Mexican American war, which was directly related to the Texan annexation, the West became a part of the US, a third of its total land mass. This is an impressive monument to that battle. We read the story on the sides of the monument, saw the movie, took the ride to the top, walked through the museum, bought the mandatory souvenir, took the driving tour around the grounds to the various battle sites, took the pictures of this monolith to Texan pride and were impressed. This is definitely a one-sided story, but the history seemed so relevant it was hard not to be honored to share in it a little.
I also took the time to walk along the boardwalks in the nature preserve on the shores of the bayou. Egrets, and spoonbilled roseates, cormorants and turtles. I'm sure there were more, a birders spot for sure.
There is also of course the battleship across the way and the spot where the first monument was placed and a small cemetery.
Located just east of Houston near the town of LaPorte, the San Jacinto Monument stands in the location where in 1836 Texas won it's independence from Mexico, and became a republic until 1845 when it joined the United States. The famous battle cry "Remember the Alamo" was yelled here by the Texas Army, under the command of General Sam Houston, after the valiant but tragic loss earlier in San Antonio. On the morning of April 21, 1836, the Texas Army surprised the Mexican Army, swept in, and killed 600 Mexican soldiers, while suffering only 9 casualties themselves. Now the monument that stands here is one of the proudest symbols in all of Texas. Completed in 1939, and standing at 570 feet, the structure is the tallest monument tower in the world. It's lone star atop it gives the monument a definative Texan feel. There is an observation deck at the top, and an extremely fast elevator takes you up. My ears pop everytime I go up it as the elevator is moving at such a high rate of speed! With such historical significance, this is most certainly a must see while in the Houston area!
From the website:
The TEXAS is the last of the battleships, patterned after HMS Dreadnought, that participated in World War (WW) I and II. She was launched on May 18, 1912 from Newport News, Virginia. When the USS TEXAS was commissioned on March 12,1914, she was the most powerful weapon in the world, the most complex product of an industrial nation just beginning to become a force in global events.
In 1916, TEXAS became the first U.S. battleship to mount antiaircraft guns and the first to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers, analog forerunners of today's computers. In 1919, TEXAS became the first U.S. battleship to launch an aircraft.
In 1925, the TEXAS underwent major modifications. She was converted to oil-fired boilers, tripod masts and a single stack were added to the main deck, and the 5" guns that bristled from her sides were reduced in number and moved to the main deck to minimize problems with heavy weather and high seas. Blisters were also added as protection against torpedo attack.
The TEXAS received the first commercial radar in the US Navy in 1939. New antiaircraft batteries, fire control and communication equipment allowed the ship to remain an aging but powerful unit in the US naval fleet. In 1940, Texas was designated flagship of US Atlantic Fleet. The First Marine Division was founded aboard the TEXAS early in 1941. April 21, 1948 the Texas was decommissioned.
The TEXAS holds the distinguished designation of a National Historic Landmark and a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
While pulling into the left side of the San Jacinto State Park you will see different monuments and a small cemetary. The roads lead to the battleship that you can't possibly miss. It is HUGE. My friend and I decided not to get on the ship although for about $10 you can do so. If you have children I would HIGHLY recommend it as it's like a huge playground. There are different levels and stairs to climb. I believe you can go down below but the stairs are very steep if I remember well from my childhood visit.
Remember that Texas summers are HOT and so will the ship be. So, be careful when touring the area.
*They have a good gift shop!!
Here you can see more of the markers, monument, museum, and the Battleship.
San Jacinto is about 30-60 minutes away from downtown depending on traffic. Depending on what website you look at San Jacinto State Park is in Houston or La Porta, so I've posted them in both.
I had a blast visiting the park and the museum. When we arrived we were greeted by a very friendly woman in a brown building leading into the tallest monument in the US (that would be on the right). We paid our dollar ea. entrance fee and were giving maps of the state park. On the map are numbered significant posts. Each post is made on stone around the park that give key points in the battle of Texas Independence (including Santa Anna's camp, where Houston gets wounded, etc. We decided to drive around before we visited the monument. It was fun. There were even picnic areas and bathroom available if you bring the kids.
Around the monument the history of Texas is written. VERY awesome! It is 15 feet taller than the Washington monument! (EVERYTHING'S BIGGER IN TEXAS!) It's in my TRAVELOGUE. Inside the monument is a small, free museum showing artifacts of Houston, Travis, Santa Anna, etc. Inside you can also view a video Texas about the San Jacinto battle as well as buy tickets to go up the monument. Oh, and there is a gift shop but....not that good!
Outdoors there is the reflection pond and the six flags that flew over Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, State of Texas, and the United States.
Across the way the Battleship of Texas exists. You can find this in my next tip as it is completely different from the Texas monument!
San Jacinto Museum of History
Monument Open Daily 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day
San Jacinto Battleground
Park Open Daily 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
From the website:
In March of 1836, things were not going well for Texas revolutionaries. Having declared independence from the official Mexican government, they were now running from the Mexican army, being run from their homes.
Since January 1836, Texas settlers had been abandoning their homes and the lives they’d created on the Texas frontier. Known as the Runaway Scrape, this retreat began as the Mexican government initiated military reoccupation of the newly settled land. The event was marked by sickness, freezing weather, hunger and panic among the citizenry.
On the morning of April 21st, General Houston held a council of war. The majority of his officers voted to await Santa Anna’s attack in order to leverage their position. General Houston let each man in the council plead his case. Then he made a decision, which he kept to himself until that afternoon: they would attack.
Around 4:30 p.m., the Mexican soldiers awoke from their afternoon siestas to the smell of gunpowder and cries of vengeance. Flushed with victory from the siege of the Alamo, Santa Anna had failed to post sentries to monitor the Texans’ activities.
In eighteen minutes the Texians were in control of the Mexican camp.
The Mexican soldiers were far more trained in martial field tactics and strategy than their Texian opponents. But they were unable to organize under the feverish surprise attack. And the short-range unorthodox brawling of frontiersmen with long knives and clenched fists did not work in their favor.
Over 600 Mexican soldiers were killed, and over 700 were allowed to surrender; nine Texians were killed or mortally wounded. Sam Houston was shot in the ankle. Santa Anna was found the next day hiding in the grass and dressed as a common foot soldier.
In the end, the United States would gain not only Texas but also New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.
As a result of the Battle of San Jacinto, almost a third of what is now the United States of America changed ownership.
Here you can see more of the markers, monument, museum, and the Battleship.
Chris and I took the little ferry over to San Jacinto State Park before heading to the airport. The momument really is impressive especially with the large star of Texas on top! With the rectangular pool in front it def reminded me of the Washington Monument in DC. We wandered around the museum inside the moment and spent the small fee to see the special exhibit and the movie on the history of San Jacinto and Houston. Knowing nothing about the history of Texas, I found the movie quite fascinating and now understand why texans are so prideful of their state! :-D Def explained a lot! I would def recommend seeing the little movie they show- you learn things you never knew.
Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see the USS Texas since it was getting close to when I had to be at the airport--next time!
This is a site of the victory of Texans under Sam Houston that sealed their independence. Unfortunately, the area around the sight is full of oil refineries and chemical plants. Well, on a second thought, fortunately, because these plants provide work for a lot of people here. Just be aware that if you choose to go to the top, the views will not be beautiful.
Here, Sam Houston won the war of Texan independence by surprising the Mexican General Santa Anna and his army while they took a siesta. The rest, as they say, is history. This monument, since this IS Texas, is just a few feet taller than the Washington Monument. The battleship Texas is berthed nearby.
Nearby the San Jacinto museum, there is the ship Texas which is one of the rarest ship to be involved in WWI and WWII.
During the first war her duty was mainly to protect the merchand convoys.
In WWII, she was one of the ships which fired on the Normandy Coast at the D-Day. She was also supporting the landings of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
We were astonished by the number of guns on this ship.
It was permitted to visit the different decks through selfguided tours. But it was easy to be lost and we had to search at least a quarter to reach the right level.
Open : 10AM to 5PM.
Ticket : 5$
Senior : 4$
The John Wayne's film : Alamo (1960) made the history of Texas well known in Europe and we were interested in visiting the San Jacinto Battleground There, Santa Anna who wanted to be the Napoleon of America, was defaited and shamefully captured in April 1836.
There is a small free museum on the basement of the monument. It shows the portraits of the main actors of the battle inclusing sam Houston and some things which belonged to them.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to climb to the top of the monument.
Open from 9AM to 6 PM
Observation deck (elevator) : 10AM to 5:30PM
I didn't go to see the Battleship Texas, however it also has a rich history.
Commissioned in 1914 it was the most powerful ship in the world. It saw service in that year in Mexico and then in Europe in 1918 at the end of WW1.
It was at dock in Portland, Maine then Pearl Harbour was attacked in 1941 and missed the distruction that was inflicted on many of its sister battleships. The ships saw action again in Europe during WW2, including D-Day.
It was finally decommissioned in 1948 and presented to the State of Texas. It was berthed here until 1988, when it was removed to Galveston for a major overhaul. In 1990 it was returned.
It is the only surviving Navy ship to have served in both world wars.
Texas was not always part of the Union. The history regarding it's independence from Mexico, becoming a Republic (as recognised by the US, Britain and many other countries), and then becoming the 28th State of the US is definately worth finding out about.
The San Jacinto Battleground and Monument offers an excellent introduction into that history. It is also the place which witnessed the birth of the Republic of Texas back in April 1836.
The monument shown here houses a museum with an exhibition, gift shop and short film presentation. You can also take the elevator to the top and see great views of the shipping canal and towards Downtown Houston on a clear day.
More information on this can be found in the website below.
More photos in my travelogues.
San Jacinto Monument is a needle-like pyramid commemorating a famous battle between Texans and Mexicans in 1836 at this very site which ended with Texas gaining its independance. So what's to see there?
Go up the monument, you'll have a great view on the ship channel (all the raffineries and huge tankers make an amazing site), downtown Houston in the background and the surrounding preserved wet lands.
Texas History Museum: very nice museum about the history of Texas from the Spanish conquest to now, with explanation panels and historical objects.
Battleship Texas: visit an old war ship that participated in both World War I and II. For information on Battleship Texas, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/battlesh/.
Opened daily. To go up the monument to see the view costs $3 per person, and the visit to Battleship Texas is $5 per person. A slide show called "Texas forever" costs $3.50 per person. Museum, surrounding grounds and parking are free.
About 20 miles east of downtown, the San Jacinto battleground marks the spot where Texas won its independence from Mexico. The complex houses the towering San Jacinto Monument, the San Jacinto Museum of History and Battleship Texas.
The true story of the battle is told in Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto screening in the Jesse H. Jones Theater. The battleship, which was commissioned in 1914 and saw action in both the Allied invasions at Normandy and on Okinawa, was presented to the people of Texas as the first memorial ship in 1948. Admission to the museum is free, but the film is $3.50 for adults.
For more information, contact the museum at (281) 479-2421.