Special Feature:

San Jacinto Battleground State Park

Battleship Texas Hard Hat Tour

La Porte (Houston), Texas

January 18, 2003

USS Texas (BB-35) DANFS

Have you ever visited a ship and wondered what's behind those locked doors? Peered through a grate at the spaces beyond, wishing you could explore them? Wished you could get past the Plexiglas for a really close look?

Well, you can.

The Battleship Texas instituted in 2002 a program called the Hard Hat Tour. Held periodically throughout the year, the Hard Hat Tours offer visitors the chance to see spaces not open to the general public. Led by members of the First Texas Volunteers (the volunteer restoration association), groups of 10 move throughout the ship on a planned 3-hour tour. There are generally four time slots each day with two groups each, starting at opposite ends of the battleship.

No joke in the name; participants are required to wear hard hats issued by the park, and you should be wearing rubber soled soles and be prepared for some serious laundry after you're done. You will bear rust, grease and cosmoline stains with honor. You'll climb ladders, squeeze through hatches, and crouch down in spaces not large enough to stand in. You'll find yourself in compartments where the only light comes from your flashlight (you must bring one as a requirement) and the occasional camera flash. In short, you'll have the time of your life.

The Hard Hat Tour has a minimum donation of $30, which goes into a fund reserved specifically for the ship's restoration and preservation, unlike the standard public access fee (waived for this tour) which goes into the general fund of Texas Parks & Wildlife. Tour dates are routinely posted both on the official TPWD site and a site organized by the First Texas Volunteers (links at the bottom of this page). Write or call early; tours fill up fast. Contact Barbara Graf (218)479-2431 ext. 234 or email barbara.graf@tpwd.state.tx.us.  

I took part in the January 18, 2003 Hard Hat Tour and was allowed the privilege of attending not one but two tours, at 11:00 and 3:00. Bringing back an embarrassing amount of digital photos, I've sifted through them to present here a glimpse of USS Texas behind the scenes. As a special addition to the tour, through the kindness and consideration of Barry Ward, Dennis Mitchell, Charles Moore and Tom Scott, I was also allowed to see the armored conning tower after the last tour. I'd like to thank them and all of the volunteers for a day that I won't soon forget. Take a Hard Hat Tour and you'll be hooked, too.

This page acts as a "home page" for the tour photos and each photo below will open a new page focusing on one or more compartments. Return here to continue your tour.

The Pages

(click on thumbnails to access the specific page)


Pilothouse, Captain's Sea Cabin, Bridge Radio/Radar Room, Charthouse

texhh002.jpg (49538 bytes)


Turret #1

Gun House, Gun Pit

texhh043.jpg (78103 bytes)


3rd (Ammunition) Deck

Ammunition Deck, Radio Station

texhh055.jpg (51350 bytes)


Electrical Spaces

Forward Distribution, Forward Dynamo

texhh070.jpg (78919 bytes)


Central Station

texhh090.jpg (73965 bytes)


Main Plot

texhh136.jpg (60080 bytes)


Engineering Spaces 1

Lower Drying Room, Blower Room

texhh191.jpg (55969 bytes)


Engineering Spaces 2

Boiler Room, Forward Condenser Room

texhh228.jpg (69138 bytes)


Turret #5

Lower Handling Room, Powder Magazines, Shell Magazines, Upper Handling Room

texhh254.jpg (64952 bytes)



Steering Room (Emergency Steering), Steering Gear Room

texhh290.jpg (65493 bytes)


Conning Tower

Armored Conning Tower, Conning Tower Fire Control Booth

texhh308.jpg (66721 bytes)


The Last Word

texhh000.JPG (35958 bytes)


For More Information:

San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park

USS Texas Volunteers Hard Hat Tour Information

USS Texas History and Information

A Photo Tour of USS Texas

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