Friday, March 11, 2016

San Jacinto Battleground Monument - LaPorte, Texas


Description: Texas declared independence from Mexico in March of 1836.  In April of that year the decisive Battle of San Jacinto was fought on what is now the outskirts of Houston.  The Texans won the battle and secured freedom.  100 years later the State of Texas built a monument and a museum on the battleground as a memorial to the battle.  A visit to this site will help anyone gain a greater understanding of Texas history.

Location: One Monument Circle La Porte, Texas.  La Porte is east of Houston, Texas.

Cost: The monument, most of the museum, and the battleground are all free.
There are some extra things to do inside the monument that cost money.  They are:
  • An elevator ride to the top of the monument which costs $4 for adults and $3 for children. 
  • A movie called Texas Forever which costs $4.50 for adults and $3.50 for children. 
  • An additional exhibit which costs $5 for adults and $3 for children.  
  • You can purchase a combination ticket for the elevator, the movie, and the extra exhibit for $12 for adults and $8 for children.
Operating Seasons and Hours: The monument, museum, and battleground are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Official Websites: http://www.sanjacinto-museum.org/ and
http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/san-jacinto-battleground

Date of Visit: Friday, November 7, 2014

This was the third and final stop of the seventh day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We finished our tour of the Battleship Texas State Historic Site.  Then we drove the mile from the parking lot of the battleship to the parking lot of the monument.





If I have one regret from this road trip is that should have brushed up on my Texas history before going on the trip.  Throughout the trip we kept visiting important historical locations, but I wasn't sure how they all fit together.  I couldn't keep the Texas Revolution straight from the US-Mexican War or the Spanish American War.  So when we visited this monument I only had the vaguest idea of what the Battle of San Jacinto was even about.  

After the trip I did a little bit of research and finally got the timeline straight in my head.  Here are some key events and their dates.  You can find a more in depth timeline here.

The Texas War of Independence happened in the spring of 1836. This was fought when Texas declared its independence from Mexico and became its own republic.  The events at the Alamo occurred during this war. The battle of San Jacinto was fought on April 21, 1836.  This battle started with the Battle Cry "Remember the Alamo,"  The battle lasted 18 minutes as the Texas fighters charged at the Mexican troops who then ran away.  

The US-Mexican War started 10 years later in 1846.  This happened when Texas became a state in the United States. There was a boundary dispute with Mexico regarding the location of the boundary between Mexico and the United States. The first battle of that war, the Battle of  Palo Alto, was fought near the Rio Grande River in present day Brownsville. There were several battles during the two years of the war, and US troops clashed with Mexican Troops all the way to Mexico City.  

At the end of the war Mexico gave up claims to land that makes up all or part of most of the present day states in the southwestern part of the country. 

The Spanish American war was fought in 1898 between the United States and Spain.  It really didn't have anything to do with Texas. So I should stop getting it confused with the US-Mexican War.
  
Okay so now that we have that straight we can talk about the San Jacinto Battleground Monument and Museum.  This monument was built between 1936 to 1939 to commemorate 100 year anniversary of the battle that won Texas her independence from Mexico.
The monument stands 570 feet tall.  (For comparison's sake the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall.) I'd seen pictures of the monument in my guide book, but I wasn't prepared for how tall it really is.  When we were right next to it it was impossible to get the whole monument in one picture.
My neck hurt from trying to look up at the monument.  But I couldn't stop looking up because the art deco designs on the monument were so interesting.
This is the view from the monument's steps.  You can see the top of the Battleship Texas sticking up in the background.
Carved on the outside the monument were inscriptions that talked about the history of the battleground.  These sort of helped me with my mental timeline.

Inside the monument there was a lobby type area that had different pictures depicting scenes from Texas History.
There were also cute little dioramas that showed other scenes.  I think this one was of the first capitol building of Texas, but don't quote me on that.
The permanent exhibit is housed on one side of the monument.  This exhibit contains many display cases full of historical artifacts.  My son loved this one about Texas railroad history.
There was even a model of the USS Texas which we'd just left a few minutes earlier.

If we had wanted to we could have paid $4.00 to ride the elevator up to the top of the monument.  The view would have been impressive, but we weren't sure how our kids would handle that.  We also could have paid $4.50 to see an interactive movie called Texas Forever.  Again that sounded interesting, but we knew the kids wouldn't pay attention to it.  

There were also plenty of things that we could have done outside the museum.  The were trails that highlighted specific areas where important things happened during the Battle of San Jacinto.  There were also boardwalk trails that showcased the area's biodiversity.  As tempting as all of that was, we were at the end of our seven day vacation and so we weren't that interested in any additional hikes.

Honestly we were all ready to go visit my sister in Houston and then go on home to Fort Hood.  However, when we got to my sister's house I kept telling how neat the Battleship and the Battleground had been.  I suggested that she should go see them herself sometime. 
Recommendation: The San Jacinto Battleground Monument and Museum is a great place to learn more about Texas History.  Plus the monument is pretty cool in its own right.  It's taller than the Washington Monument so that alone is a reason to visit it.

Directions: The San Jacinto Battleground Monument is located east of downtown Houston.  Once you get in the area you can't miss the monument.

Additional Information: A reenactment of the battle is held every April at the monument.  The reenactment for 2016 is scheduled for Saturday, April 23.

Places Nearby:  As I was looking at the map to figure out how to get on the I-10 I noticed that the most direct way there involved a short ferry ride.  So we drove north on Independence Parkway, and and got on the Lynchburg Ferry that took us across the Houston Shipping Channel.  The whole ride took less than 5 minutes, but it was a fun way to finish up our trip.

Next Stop: This was the final stop of our Texas Coastline Road trip.  But it wasn't the end of my family's adventures in Texas.  In the next few weeks I'll start writing about all the day trips we went on in the area around Fort Hood, Texas.  

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I would love to hear what you think. Did I get it right, or was I dead wrong? What was your experience like?

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