A Bridge of Ships: The Emergency Fleet Corporation and Texas' WWI Shipbuilding Legacy

Author(s): Sam M Cuellar; Amy A Borgens

Year: 2020


This is an abstract from the session entitled "The Nuts and Bolts of Ships: The J. Richard Steffy Ship Reconstruction Laboratory and the future of the archaeology of Shipbuilding" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Despite 5,000 miles separation from the battlefields of Europe, Texas waters hide the legacy of at least 32 shipwrecks associated with WWI. To offset Allied merchant losses to German U-boats during the war, the United States Shipping Board contracted numerous shipyards in southeast Texas and nationwide to construct steamships of alternative materials, including wood and concrete. Following the armistice of 11 November 1918, contracts for these vessels were terminated and many remained unfinished. After numerous failed attempts to sell and convert the ships, 29 of these found their final home abandoned along the Neches and Sabine rivers in the 1920s. In 2019, Texas Historical Commission led investigations sought to fill the void of archaeological information known about these wrecks, seeking answers to the current location, condition, exposure, and identity of some of the vessels linking Texas to the Great War.

Cite this Record

A Bridge of Ships: The Emergency Fleet Corporation and Texas' WWI Shipbuilding Legacy. Sam M Cuellar, Amy A Borgens. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457579)


Shipwrecks Texas WWI

Geographic Keywords
United States of America

Temporal Keywords
Early 19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 986