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Relics from ship sunk in Battle of Galveston coming to county - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

Relics from ship sunk in Battle of Galveston coming to county

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Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 12:20 am

TEXAS CITY — Work on the display carriage for a gun from a U.S. Navy ship that sank in the Battle of Galveston during the Civil War should be wrapping up soon.  

Artifacts, including a 9-inch Dahlgren gun, from the USS Westfield could be moving into the Texas City Museum this month, according to city officials.

The USS Westfield sank in Galveston Bay on Jan. 1, 1863, when Confederate forces retook Galveston from the Union. The remains of the ship sat in the murky depths until being excavated in 2009.

Now, after painstaking conservation and analysis by archaeologists at Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University, the artifacts, which include personal effects of the crew, pieces of the ship’s boiler and of the engine cylinder, as well as the massive gun, will be coming to the Texas City Museum this year.

Texas City’s city commission approved a $53,000 contract to build four of the USS Westfield displays earlier this month. The displays will include an engine cylinder reconstruction, a boiler reconstruction and a pair of murals of the Westfield and artifacts.

“This is the closest we’ve been in a while, so we are really excited about this phase of the project,” said Dennis Harris, co-director of the Texas City recreation and tourism department.

The boiler reconstruction will stand more than 17 feet high, and the engine cylinder reconstruction will include a 16-foot wire mesh skeleton that will display areas that no longer exist, according to the agreement.

There also will be three other exhibit cabinets, Harris said.

One of the first artifacts to go on display likely will be the almost 10,000-pound Dahlgren gun, which could be moving into its new home in April, Harris said.

The city spent about $25,000 to build the gun display, Harris said.

Justin Parkoff, conservation phase project manager with the Conservation Research Laboratory, said the final details are coming together and a date should be set soon for when the gun will be brought to Texas City.

Parkoff said he’s found someone to move the gun from College Station to Texas City. Once here, steel plates will be put down to protect the sidewalks outside the museum so the weight of the gun won’t crush the concrete, Parkoff said.

The gun will go on rollers and be moved to its location, where a rolling crane will be used to lift the gun into position, Parkoff said.

The rest of the artifacts will be brought to the museum throughout the year, he said.

“We’re ahead of schedule, so we should have the cylinder done, hopefully, right at the beginning of summer,” he said.