Historic Fort Crockett and Galveston Laboratory

The Galveston Laboratory of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center is located on grounds of historical military significance. Below is a brief timeline of the historic Fort Crockett.

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

Brief Timeline

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.

1903

Tents in parade ground.

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

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.

 

1915

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.

During World War I

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

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.

 

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Building of Battery Wade Hampton- (10" guns) 1905 Near 39th and Seawall Blvd today.

 

Building of Battery Hoskins-- (12" guns) 1917-1921

Building of Battery Hoskins-- (12" guns) 1917-1921 Located where the San Luis Hotel is today.

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.

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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.

1940's

Building of Fort Crockett air strip in the 1940's.

Building of Fort Crockett air strip in the 1940's

Fort Crockett air strip.

1942

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.

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Fort Crockett Military Reservation 1930

Above 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 is a 1952 photograph showing the covered Battery Hoskins bunker.

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Fort Crockett Military Reservation 1952

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.

1948

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.

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

Post Exchange Bldg - 216

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. 

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

Weekly bingo games and dances were held in the ballroom. The wooden floors are still in use today.

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

1950

Fishery Research began at Fort Crockett when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf Fishery Investigations studying red tide were housed in a single building just east of the Post Exchange.

1956

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Service acquired 10 buildings at our current site. Researchers began a new system of keeping shrimp fishery records.

1957 

Began Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Laboratory to serve the Gulf of Mexico.

1960's 

Expanded to studies of shrimp natural history and shrimp aquaculture.

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Galveston Laboratory Refurbished in 1969. Photo courtesy of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston, Texas. 

1970

The buildings and property were transferred to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) in the newly established National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

1970's

Embarked on comprehensive oceanographic surveys of the Gulf of Mexico.  Continued to be a world leader in shrimp aquaculture research.

1978 Established new sea turtle research and the Headstart Program to help recover the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle.

1980's 

Began predictive modeling and ecological analyses of shrimp and fish populations.  Initiated research on essential fish habitat in Texas, Louisiana and the nation.

1990's 

Started tracking of sea turtles with satellites, mapping of essential fish habitat using Geographic Information Systems, testing Turtle Excluder Devices and Bycatch Reduction Devices, modeling at ecosystem level, and restoring coastal marshes.

2000

In 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.

Today 

The Galveston Laboratory continues to be a key federal fisheries research installation in the Gulf of Mexico through the help of its many partners.

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).

 

 

Last updated by Southeast Fisheries Science Center on April 29, 2019