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Historic Fort Crockett

Acknowledgment:   Information on Fort Crockett was paraphrased from information provided by the Galveston Historical Foundation
and research by Betty Hartman (215 Postoffice:40001, Galveston TX 77550).

In 1897

The United States government purchased 125 acres of land between 45th and 49th Streets on the beachfront of Galveston Island.  A military reservation was born.  Fort construction was still in progress when the hurricane of September 8, 1900 struck the island. Twenty-nine of the 129 soldiers housed at the fort lost their lives. The fort without a garrison was turned over to the Army engineers for repairs.

In 1903

While under repair, the military reservation was officially named  Fort Crockett in honor of Davy Crockett, a famous American pioneer who lost his life in the gallant defense of the Alamo.   Fort repair and building upgrades were completed in 1910.  Fort Crockett was garrisoned in 1911 with the Coast Artillery Corps.  

View of Fort Crockett
from 45th and Seawall
Photo Credit: Rosenberg Library, Galveston, TX

Tents in parade ground
Photo courtesy of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston, TX

The hurricane of 1915

blew into the encampment of a brigade, which had been stationed on the parade ground in tents since 1912; however, this time the troops could take refuge in the concrete barracks.

Soldiers at Fort Crockett during WWI
Photo courtesy of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston, TX

During World War I

3,000 troops were estimated to have been at the fort at one time.  All available space was covered with cantonments, kitchens and warehouses and two regiments in tents occupied the parade ground.  Trench mortar units, railroad artillery and Howitzer organizations were sent across to France, and steady stream of replacement batteries left the fort.  It was estimated that Fort Crockett sent 100 to 200 replacements per month.

Building of Battery Wade Hampton-
(10" guns)  1905
Near 39th and Seawall Blvd today
Photo Credit:  National Archives

Building of Battery Hoskins--
(12" guns) 1917-1921
Located where the San Luis Hotel is today
Photo courtesy of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston, TX
Besides training and organizing troops for the European forces, the fort was alert to danger from German submarines in the Gulf of Mexico and held its batteries ready for action.

Battery Wade Hampton
Near 39th and Seawall Blvd today
Photo Credit: Images of Galveston County Texas, 1838-1992.  Compiled by Clara Smith and published in 1992 by the Galveston Daily News

Work on the Fort batteries

was resumed in 1942 when the menace of German submarines entering the Gulf of Mexico became apparent. The work was done in complete secrecy and was finished in 1943.   Below (left) is a 1930 aerial photograph showing the exposed guns of Battery Hoskins.  The Army Corps of Engineers began by casemating Battery Hoskins to withstand an attack of 5,000-pound naval shells.  Below (right) is a 1952 photograph showing the covered Battery Hoskins bunker.

Fort Crockett Military Reservation 1930
Photo Credit: Tobin Surveys Inc.  Scan provided by Galveston Estuary program, Texas A&M University at Galveston

Fort Crockett Military Reservation 1952
Photo Credit: U. S. Department of Agriculture.  Scan provided by Galveston Estuary program, Texas A&M University at Galveston

Building of Fort Crockett air strip in the 1940's
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston TX

In 1943

Fort Crockett became a prisoner of war camp when the first group of 165 POWs arrived in Galveston.  The compound was from 53rd Street to 57th Street and from Avenue Q to Seawall Boulevard.  The compound fence went across the Boulevard, down to the beach and across the beach into the water.  A total of 650 POWs were detained at the camp until it was deactivated in 1946.

After having been blocked off to traffic from the start of the war in 1941, Seawall Boulevard was reopened on July 22, 1948.  From 1948 to 1951 the fort was the Galveston Recreation Center for the Fourth Army.   Single enlisted GI's could stay at the Recreation Center for $2 a week.  There was an additional charge of  50 cents per day for dependents over the age of  sixteen.  Entertainment included tennis, fishing, bowling, dancing, bingo, archery, baseball, golf, sunbathing, horseback riding and much more.


Barracks
Bldg - 302
Photo Credit: Rosenberg Library, Galveston, TX

Post Exchange
Bldg - 216
Photo Credit: Anonymous, Galveston Recreation Center, Fort Crockett, Texas
Aside from groceries and pharmaceuticals, the Post Exchange building housed a billiard room, bowling alley, gymnasium, and a large wooden-floored ballroom.  Weekly bingo games and dances were held in the ballroom.  The wooden floors are still in use today.

Dance in Ballroom of the Post Exchange
Photo Credit: Anonymous, Galveston Recreation Center, Fort Crockett, Texas

Bingo in the Ballroom of the Post Exchange
Photo Credit: Anonymous, Galveston Recreation Center, Fort Crockett, Texas

Bowling was eventually moved to
Bldg -304, a post WW-II structure
Photo Credit: Anonymous, Galveston Recreation Center, Fort Crockett, Texas

Galveston Laboratory Refurbished in1969
Photo courtesy of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston, TX
(Click on the photo to see the names and functions of the buildings when it was the Galveston Recreation Center)

In 1950

Fishery Research began atFort Crockett when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf Fishery Investigations were housed in a single building just east of the Post Exchange.  In 1956 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Service acquired 10 buildings at our current site.  The buildings and property were transferred to the National Marine Fisheries Service within the Department of Commerce in 1970.  
 

In January 2000

following refurbishment of buildings 302 and 216, there was a  Rededication Ceremony to commemorate their opening, the 30-Year Anniversary of NOAA, and 50 years of fishery research on the grounds of Fort Crockett.