Galveston, TX (Pelican Island)
June 2011

Photos/text this page courtesy of William Bozic, Houston, TX
For any use of these photos contact

Battle of Galveston 150th Anniversary    
Galveston 2004
Galveston 2006
Galveston 2009
Galveston 2011
Galveston 2012
Galveston 2013

Galveston Cemetery:

Page1   Page2

Galveston Quarantine Station
(June 2011) Enlarge This Texas Historical Marker is located on Pelican Island at Seawolf Park. The marker does not mention Fort Jackson nor the barracks and storehouses. The "Pelican Spit" Island where these were located has been filled to merge with Pelican Island. Hurricanes and violent storms have left no trace of anything related to the 1861-1865 period at this spot but various activities took place on or near this Pelican Spit.

Text of Marker
Unregulated entry of immigrants through Galveston in the late 1830s greatly contributed to local outbreaks of yellow fever and other communicable diseases. The young city instituted quarantine measures in 1839 and in 1853 built Texas' first quarantine station on the eastern tip of Galveston Island. Yellow fever returned to plague the community in 1867 and 1868. A larger quarantine station, built by the city in 1870, was destroyed by hurricane winds in 1875. The state built new facilities in 1879 and again in 1885 at a site in Galveston known as Port Point. Ships suspected of harboring infected crew, passengers, or cargo were not allowed to enter Galveston's port. A new station, built on nearby Pelican Island by the state in 1892, was destroyed in the storm of 1900. Texas built its last quarantine station at the Fort Point site in 1902. This station merged with Federal operations in 1919. A federally funded 10-structure quarantine facility, secured with the help of Galveston's Federal Liaison Colonel Walter Gresham, was completed here on Pelican Island in 1915. The Pelican Island Federal Quarantine Station, which closed in 1950, inspected an estimated 30,000 ships that brought an estimated 750,000 immigrants to Texas during its 35 years of operation.



SS Selma Texas Historical Marker

(June 2011) Enlarge This marker is located at Seawolf Park. Nothing pertains to 1861-1865, but visitors will see the ruins of the ship located just offshore.

Text of marker
Steel shortages during World War I led the U. s. to build experimental concrete ships, the largest of which was the SS Selma, today partially submerged in Galveston Bay and visible from this site. It was built in Mobile, Alabama, and named to honor Selma, Alabama, for its successful wartime liberty loan drive. The ship was launched on June 28, 1919, the same day Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending World War I. As a result, the 7,500-ton ship never entered the war, but instead was placed into service as an oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico. In Tampico, Mexico, on May 31, 1920, the SS Selma hit a jetty, ripping a hole in its hull about 60 feet long. After attempts to repair the ship in Galveston failed and efforts to sell the ship proved unsuccessful, U. s. officials decided to intentionally scuttle the ship. A channel 1,500 feet long and 25 feet deep was dug to a point just off Pelican Island's eastern shoreline where on March 9, 1922, the ship was laid to rest. The Selma has since been the object of failed plans to convert it for use as a fishing pier, pleasure resort, and oyster farm. Long a source of curiosity and local legend, it remains important to scientists who continued to study aspects of its concrete construction.



SS Selma in Galveston Bay

(June 2011) Enlarge The sight of the ruins of the ship draws attention and questions, so thankfully there is a Texas Historical Marker nearby which answers many of the questions.

Although the SS Selma is unrelated to the Battle of Galveston, the area around the ruin in Galveston Bay saw action in the naval portion of the battle. In the Battle of Galveston, US Navy and Army forces were defeated and Galveston held by the CSA until the end of the war. Surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Dept was done at Galveston on June 19, 1865.



View of Entrance to Galveston Bay

(June 2011) Enlarge This photo was taken at Pelican Spit. To the right can be seen the edge of Galveston Island and to the extreme right (near the umbrella) Bolivar Peninsula can be seen. Galveston Bay is still an important and was a key CSA port during the war. The volume of ocean-going vessels passing the entrance is impressive. There appears to be a line out to sea of large ships waiting to enter.


USCG Station Galveston-Near Site of Fort Point

(June 2011) Enlarge Hurricanes and Violent storms have erased Fort Point, but the value of the strategic location at the point of Galveston Island and entrance to Galveston Bay has not been lost. Today the US Coast Guard has a station located in roughly the same area. During the Spanish American War it was quickly realized that harbor defenses needed to be improved. You can see some embankments which held gun platforms, now obsolete and no longer in use.



Looking from Pelican Spit to Galveston

(June 2011) Enlarge The US Coast Guard Station, constructed somewhere near the site of CSA Fort Point can be seen in the distance from the fishing pier at Seawolf Park. (FYI-Entrance fees for Seawolf Park vary depending on desired activities) .

The Union Army's Department of the Gulf by order of Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks and Maj. D.C. Houston-Chief Engineer had a map of Galveston Defenses created based on a reconnaissance by Asst. Engineer W.S. Long, and reports furnished by refugees on April 15, 1864.

According to the aforementioned map CSA Fort Point contained the following:

1 Rifled Gun from the Harriet Lane*
1 8-inch Colum.
2 32-Pounders
1 8-inch Howitzer
Top Barbette
1 Rifled Gun
2 10-inch Mortars

Garrison of 200 men

*The Harriet Lane was a US Ship taken by Confederates during the naval portion of the Battle of Galveston


Seawolf Park Pavillion

(June 2011) Enlarge This building is closed and gutted. (Photo taken June 26, 2011) Portable bathrooms are outside the structure to accommodate visitors. Hurricane IKE submerged the park but the island has been submerged on other occasions, too.

Pelican Spit and Pelican Island were of obvious strategic importance. The Union Army's Department of the Gulf by order of Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks and Maj. D.C. Houston-Chief Engineer a map of Galveston Defenses was created based on a reconnaissance by Asst. Engineer W.S. Long, and reports furnished by refugees on April 15, 1864.

According to the aforementioned map there were 25 torpedoes of 25 pounds of powder each to mine the area. Defenses on Fort Jackson, which was located on Pelican Spit facing the channel, as well as on Fort Point, were in place to ensure a cross-fire.
The following was believe by Union forces to be in place based on the map above cited.

Fort Jackson
1 8-inch Colum.
2 32 Pounders
Top Barbette
1 8-inch Colum.
1 10-inch Mortar
No details were given in the US map for the CS garrison in the barracks, nor contents of the storehouses, on Pelican Spit.

Page1   Page2

Battle of Galveston 150th Anniversary     Galveston 2004     Galveston 2006     Galveston 2009     Galveston 2011     Galveston 2012     Galveston 2013

Sites by State Home        Site Index