Before the Deep Water Jubilee, the US Army Corps of Engineers started constructing the jetties out of gabions (6 foot cylindrical, cages woven out of wicker, filled with sand and capped with cement). Ultimately the method was not effective, leading Galveston to lobby for money to use granite blocks instead; however, it did deepen the harbor just enough so that 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA could enter the harbor fully laden drawing 14 feet. At this special edition History on Tap, visitors will be able to enjoy drinks aboard ELISSA and visiting ship EL GALLEON.

This special History on Tap will be held on Saturday, April 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Tickets are $30 per person and include 2 complimentary beers, additional beers may be purchased.



Step back in time aboard El Galeon, the breathtaking 1/1 scale reconstruction of a 16th Century Spanish galleon. Spanish Galleons, used primarily for their cargo transporting abilities, were frequently bought and sold by Spanish and English governments during the 1600s, and often taken over and converted into Pirate ships in the rough Carribean waters.

In 2006, The Nao Victoria Fundacion undertook a special project to reconstruct, to scale, a 16th Century Spanish Galleon.The crew of El Galeon, still living aboard the ship 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, serves tours to those interested in feeling under their feet the awe of a 170 foot sailing vessel once used in the golden age of Western expansion into the Americas.


Named in 2005 by the Texas legislature as the Official Tall Ship of Texas, ELISSA is one of only three 19th-century iron square-riggers in the World that continues to sail. Built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland, the iron-hulled vessel boasts a 90-year commercial history during which she carried a variety of cargoes to ports around the world, including Galveston. A National Historic Landmark and a fully functional sailing vessel, ELISSA has achieved a special place in history by sailing in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

After being abandoned as a freighter in Piraeus Harbor, Greece, ELISSA was rescued in the 1970s by a group of preservationists who refused to let her and her rich history die. Following extensive restoration, she today is part of the museum’s permanent exhibit and one of Galveston Island’s most popular attractions. Measuring 205 feet in length with a height of 99 feet and nine inches at the main mast, she carries 19 sails that cover more than a quarter of an acre in surface area. When not sailing, ELISSA is open for daily tours at the Texas Seaport Museum, located at Pier 22, just off Harborside Drive in downtown Galveston.


In 1890, Galveston finally received what it needed to become an economically competitive port: a 6.2 million dollar congressional appropriation to deepen the harbor. News of the appropriation sent Galveston into a flurry of spontaneous celebrations and a rush to plan six months’ worth of festivities called the Deep Water Jubilee.

Galveston did not successfully lobby congress alone. By working with other western cities and interests, they proved together that deep water at Galveston held national importance. As the farthest port with access to the Atlantic trade, Galveston and the West stood to gain handsomely from increased goods traveling through the harbor. Deep water meant larger ships carrying more cargo, making more money for the western states.

After over twenty years of planning, deep water was within Galveston’s reach. With banquets, oyster roasts and maritime excursions, Galveston set about thanking its many partners in November of 1890. In February, Galveston held one of her famous Mardi Gras events accompanied by a trades display parade. In April, Galveston hosted the biennial Saengerfest, which boasted three days of concerts by German music groups from across the state. The Deep Water Jubilee ended with the arrival of sitting President, Benjamin Harrison, who signed the bill into law, and all the pomp and circumstance befitting a presidential visit.

Join Galveston Historical Foundation in 2017 as we remember the city’s triumph. Featuring personal stories of individuals, events, educational programs and more, GHF celebrates Galveston’s Deep Water Jubilee.

2 Responses

  1. Bill Debes

    Several boats would like to escort El Galeon out of the Port of Galveston. What time on the 23rd is the ship scheduled to depart Galveston…

    • Will Wright

      There has not been a departure time finalized yet. It will be due to wind / tide and likely not something we will be able to say very far in advance. Could be Sunday night, or Monday morning. If we receive word this weekend we will update as possible.


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