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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Harris County, Texas

Harris County, Texas, (population 3.8 million) with its county seat of Houston, is an area rich in history and independent spirit. It was in Harris County that the decisive battle of San Jacinto in the Texas Revolution was won, gaining Texas’ independence from Mexico in 1836 and leaving Texas an independent country.

Archaeological sites in the county reveal evidence of human habitation for 6,000 years. In 1528, Spanish explorers claimed the Texas Gulf Coast for Spain, and in 1821, the region became part of Mexico. Today’s Harris County is home to the port of Houston and the Houston Ship Channel, vibrant components of the global economy. NASA’s Johnson Space Center is also in the county along with a diverse network of research and education organizations tied to aerospace technology.

The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is 1,200 acres of southeast Texas history. In 2007, it averaged 500 visitors a day and it is maintained by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the oldest site in the Texas State Park system. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974, the site contains the San Jacinto Battleground, for which a walking tour interpretive trail guide is available, the San Jacinto Museum of History, the 570 foot tall San Jacinto Monument, and the Battleship Texas. The latter two are National Mechanical Engineering Landmarks.

Partnering with the state and local governments are the non-profit groups the Battleship Texas Foundation and Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground. The Battleship Texas Foundation assists in ongoing preservation and fundraising campaigns and educational efforts aboard the historic ship. It conducts the “Sleepover on the Battleship” program where groups of students can spend a night on the ship performing traditional crew activities and learning about the early days of naval aviation and what it was like to be stationed on the ship during both World Wars. The Texas is the oldest surviving United States battleship and is a National Historic Landmark itself.

Annually, Texas celebrates San Jacinto Day with a festival and battle reenactment in the county. It features living history encampments, demonstrations, and children’s activities. At precisely 3 p.m. the April 21, 1836 battle is fought all over again with cannons and musket fire all the way to the reenactment of Santa Anna’s surrender to Sam Houston.

For more information

Teaching With Historic Places: America's Space Program - Exploring a New Frontier: www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/101space/101space.htm

San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sanjacintobattleground

Texas Independence Trail Region: www.texasindependencetrail.org

Harris County: www.co.harris.tx.us

Posted May 13, 2009

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