U.S.S. Westfield Exhibit Update
From the December 27 Houston Chronicle:A 150-year-old Civil War ship and its contents is on its way to Texas City after being excavated from the bottom of the Houston Ship Channel and restored in a five-year project.The USS Westfield, which sank in the Battle of Galveston in 1863, was brought to the surface in 2009 in what was the largest maritime archaeological rescue project ever undertaken in Texas.Once up, archaeological conservators discovered hundreds of artifacts including belt buckles from the crew, boiler and engine parts as well as live ammunition.The star of the find is a 12-foot-long cannon, which could have fired projectiles over a mile and a half. [The gun is a IX-inch Dahlgren, the only one of Westfield’s guns not salvaged by the Confederates.]
“This thing is a beast!” said Justin Parkoff, manager of the Westfield project at Texas A&M Conservation Research Lab where the restoration is taking place.
Early in 2014, that cannon will be sitting on a re-created carriage at the Texas City Museum.
Closer to summer comes a rebuild of the engine cylinder, and later in the year a massive reconstruction of the boiler. That will be so big it will reach the museum roof, Parkoff said.
“It will be a huge attraction,” said museum curator Linda Turner. “So many Civil War buffs will want to come and see it. It will be dramatic.”
Full story and lots more pictures here. Here is an image of Justin cleaning one of the boiler’s access hatches. The final phase of exhibition development will add a full-scale mockup of the boiler — half of it a modern reconstruction, and the other half assembled from original fragments recovered from the wreck. It’s gonna be fandanmtastic.