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Dec. 18, 2009
Battleship TEXAS updates bring the past alive for visitors
AUSTIN, Texas — It fought in two world wars, saw action in Europe, Africa and the Pacific, traveled more than more than 728,000 miles, as far north as Iceland and as far south as Chile. It is the second longest-serving battleship ever commissioned by the U.S. Navy, in service from 1914 to 1948. Now, thanks in part to increased funds from the Texas Legislature, the Battleship TEXAS is getting an update that will make its long history more accessible and engaging for visitors.
On its final mission for the U.S. Navy, the TEXAS returned 4,267 U.S. troops from the Pacific theater to San Pedro, California in time for Christmas 1945. After its service in World War II had ended, the ship was presented to its namesake state, commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy and brought to a permanent home at Buffalo Bayou, minutes from downtown Houston and adjacent to the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, on the anniversary of the battle that won Texas’ independence in 1836.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department took possession of the ship in 1983. The following year, TPWD began an extensive renovation of the ship.
The latest suite of updates includes a complete redo of all the ship’s interpretive, wayfinding and safety signs-55 new interpretive labels located at significant points throughout the ship, about 14 larger interpretive exhibit panels in the port and starboard aircastles, orientation and welcome signs, assorted safety signs, new directional signs (maps) and a new interpretive brochure.
"If people arrive at a state park, whether it’s a natural area or a historic site, and they’re totally on their own, with no written or visual aids and no staff to explain things, they’re going to miss a huge part of the experience," said Phil Hewitt, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department State Parks Division interpretation and exhibits director.
"Turn that around, and invest in people and resources to tell the story, and you have an exponential increase in visitors ‘getting it,’" Hewitt said. "Interpretation makes the crucial difference for people to understand what’s special about a park, to learn about natural and cultural resources, and to just have a lot more fun while they’re there."
The new interpretation will explore the battleship’s place in America’s history-spanning the period from America’s emergence as a nascent world power to the end of the Second World War. One new sign about the ship’s Main Battery notes that when TEXAS was commissioned in 1914, the warship was the most powerful weapon afloat. TEXAS, one of only eight remaining battleships in the world, is a national historic landmark.
More information about the Battleship TEXAS, including a video about the ship and its history, can be found on the TPWD Web site. PHOTOS and GRAPHICS for news media use, including several of the new interpretive signs and panels, are available as high resolution .jpg files in the News Images area of the site.
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