- The term “maverick” is derived from the name Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), an early Texas lawyer and pioneer.b
- The bowie knife is named after the Alamo hero Jim Bowie (1796-1836). His brother, Rezin, designed the hefty weapon.c
- It is still a hanging offense in Texas to steal cattle or to put graffiti on someone else’s cow. It is also illegal to indecently expose or swear in front of a corpse in Texas. In Galveston, Texas, it is illegal to have a camel run loose on the beach.e,i
- Oscar, the Academy Award statuette, was named for Texan Oscar Pierce, whose niece worked in Hollywood for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. When she saw the gold statuette, she reportedly said, “Why, that looks just like my Uncle Oscar.”a
- The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is home to the world’s largest parking lot. The Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport has the third largest runway in the world and is the alternate landing site for the space shuttle. Texas has more airports than any other state in the country.d
Texas is the second largest state in the U.S., behind Alaska
- At 268,601 square miles, Texas is the largest state in the contiguous United States and is the second biggest state in the U.S. (only Alaska is bigger). Texas is larger than many nations of the world, including every country in Europe. If it were a country, it would be the 40th largest country in the world, after Chile and Zambia.h
- Texas is the second most populous state in the U.S., after California. New York is the third most populous. In 2010, the U.S. Census reported the population of Texas as 25,145,561. In 1990, it was 16,986,510. The population density in 2010 was 96.3 people per square mile.a
- The word “Texas” was the Spanish pronunciation “Tejas” of the Hasinai Indian word meaning “allies” or “friends.” In fact, the Texas state motto is “friendship.” Ironically, many Native American tribes in Texas, including the Hasinai, were totally destroyed.b
- Texas still owns all of its public lands. If the federal government wants to create a park or cut a stand of timber, it must first ask the state’s permission.f
- The city of Slaughter, Texas, has never had a homicide.i
- The largest city in Texas is Houston. It is also the fourth largest city in the United States.a
- Texas’ nickname is the “Lone Star State” as a reminder of its struggle for independence from Mexico and to represent Texas as an independent republic.f
- The phrase “Six Flags over Texas” refers to the six countries that ruled over Texas territory. The first flag belonged to Spain (1519-1821), the second was the royal banner of France (1685-1690), the third was the flag of Mexico (1821-1836), the fourth belonged to the Republic of Texas (1836-1845), the fifth was the flag of the United States (1845-1861 and 1865-present) and, upon secession, Texas replaced the U.S. flag with one for the Confederate States of America (1861-1865). The term “Six Flags” has been incorporated into theme parks (Six Flags), shopping malls, and other venues.j
Texas releases more greenhouse emissions than most countries
- If Texas were a country, it would rank as the world’s 7th largest producer of greenhouse gases. Additionally, Texas emits more greenhouse gases than any other state in the United States.k
- Texas experiences the most tornadoes in the United States, with an average of 139 per year. Tornadoes occur most often in North Texas and the Panhandle.a
- The deadliest natural disaster in the U.S. was the Galveston hurricane of 1900, which killed between 8,000-12,000 people.c
- Sam Houston (1793-1863) was the first president and first governor of Texas. The Cherokee, with whom he lived in Tennessee, called him “the Raven.” Though one of the most famous Texans, he was actually born in Virginia and served as governor of Tennessee. A statue of Sam Houston called a “Tribute to Courage” is the world’s largest freestanding statute of an American.j
- Texas was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845. When it was annexed in 1845, it retained the right to fly its flag at the same height as the national flag.b
- The letters “G.T.T.” were 19th-century short hand for “Gone to Texas,” a quick way for people to let their families know that they had left for greener grass. Eventually, so many people headed to Texas to escape the law that “G.T.T.” came to mean “on the lam.”a
- The famous battle cry “Remember the Alamo!” is often attributed to Sam Houston but was actually coined by Texas general Sidney Sherman (1805-1873).h
- The most popular snack foods in Texas are Frito pie (a bag of Fritos mixed with chili, onions, and cheese eaten straight from the bag), peanuts in Dr Pepper, beef jerky, jalapenos, and corn dogs.a
- In 1969, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong called Houston, Texas, from the moon. The first word spoken on the moon in 1969 was “Houston.”h
Over 100 camels were imported to Texas during the 1850s and 1860s
- Camels were imported into Texas twice in the 1850s by the U.S. War Department in the belief that they would be handy animals to use during the Indian Wars. They could be seen roaming Texas hills and deserts well into the 1920s.a
- The Texas flag is called the “Lone Star Flag” and has three colors: red to represent courage, white to represent liberty, and blue to represent loyalty. It was adopted in 1845 when Texas became a state. The large white star was first used on Texas flags in the 1830s during the battles between Texas and Mexico.f
- The Texas state capitol building—completed on May 16, 1888—is the largest capitol of all state capitols in the nation in terms of gross square footage. It is second in total size only to the National Capital in D.C. Additionally, the capital dome in Austin is 7 feet higher than the dome on the U.S. capitol. Texas has the second tallest state capital building, after Louisiana.f
- The “father” of Texas is Stephen Fuller Austin (1793-1836). He and his father helped move 300 American families (“The Old 300”) to Texas.b
- Each year Amarillo hosts the World’s Largest Calf Fry Cook-Off. “Calf fries” are bull testicles.a
- Approximately 90% of the world’s recoverable helium is located in the ground under Amarillo, Texas.a
- Austin is home to the largest bat colony in North America. Over 1.5 million bats roost beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake and eat between 10,000- 30,000 lbs. of insects a night.a
- The largest county in Texas is Brewster. It measures 6,193 square miles, which is roughly the size of Connecticut. Delaware could fit inside Brewster three times.a
- A $60 million treasure of gold plundered by Coronado is believed to be buried on an 80-acre pasture at the Sems Ranch near Clyde, Texas.h
- The Dallas State Fair Park is home to the largest Ferris wheel (the Texas Star) in the Western Hemisphere.a
- Texas was the 28th state in the U.S. and was admitted into the Union on December 29, 1845. All other states except Texas entered the United States by territorial annexation. Only Texas entered by treaty.j
Dr Pepper originated in Texas
- Charles Alderton (1857-1941), a Waco pharmacist, first created Dr Pepper in 1885. The oldest working Dr Pepper plant (since 1891) is in Dublin, 94 miles west of Waco. There is also no period after the “Dr” in Dr Pepper.h
- After the popularity of the song “Luckenbach, Texas,” so many road signs were stolen that the government stopped making them.a
- Texas is the largest petroleum-producing state in the U.S. and if it were an independent nation, it would rank as the world’s 5th largest petroleum-producing nation. Only 34 of Texas’ 254 counties have no known natural gas within their boundaries. However, no major wells have been discovered for a half-century or more.c
- In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first Texas-born president of the U.S. The only other Texas-born president was Lyndon B. Johnson. U.S. presidents who died in Texas are JFK (assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas) and Lyndon B. Johnson (who died the same place he was born, the Johnson ranch outside Stonewall, where he suffered a fatal coronary on January 22, 1973).a
- Josefa “Chipita” Rodriguez (1799-1863) was the first and only woman ever legally hung in Texas. She was executed on a Friday the 13th at the age of 63, and her ghost is said to haunt the place where she died. Her last words were “No soy culpable” (I am not guilty).h
- John Wayne and Chuck Norris are honorary Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in North America with statewide jurisdiction.a
- The Dallas TV drama series ran from 1978 to 1991 and has been dubbed into 67 languages and broadcast into more than 90 countries. It was filmed on location at the Cloyce Box Ranch in Frisco, Texas, outside of Dallas.a
- There are more than 70,000 miles of highway in Texas, of which 40,985 are paved farm and ranch roads. Along Texas roads, there are more than a million signs and markers. Texas uses 1.6 million gallons of white and yellow paint each year to paint stripes along its highways.a
- The highest temperature ever recorded in Texas was 120° F in Seymour on August 12, 1936. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -23° F at Tulia in 1899 and at Seminole on February 8, 1933.a
- Davy Crockett, who died at the Alamo, once told his Tennessee peers in Congress “Ya’ll can go to hell. I am going to Texas.”d
- It is said that only Texans would have fought the Battle of the Alamo, where Mexican troops far outnumbered the 187 men in the mission-turned-fort. All 187 men died.a
Texas has the 4th highest poverty rate in the nation
- In 2010, Texas tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of U.S. workers in minimum-wage jobs. This year (2011), it has the 4th highest poverty rate of any state and it ranks 1st for adults without diplomas. It also leads the U.S. in children without health insurance, and 26% of all Texans have no health insurance.g
- Jane Long (1798-1880) has been called the “Mother of Texas” because of her bravery and the widely held belief that she gave birth to the “first white child” in Texas. However, by her own admission, she was not the first English woman to bear a child in Texas.b
- Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson was the first female governor of Texas and the first woman elected governor of any state.d
- Emily Morgan, an African American indentured servant, is the subject of the song “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”d
- Estevanico, or “Black Stephen,” was the body-servant of the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and, as such, was most likely the first African American ever in Texas.d
- The world’s largest (and oldest) rattlesnake roundup is held every March in Sweetwater, Texas.d
Texas Symbols d,f
|State Mammal (large)
|State Flying Mammal
a Buckner, Shary. 2010. Fun with the Family: Texas. 7th Ed. Guilford, CT: GPP Travel.
b Crutchfield, James A. 1996. It Happened in Texas. Helena, MT: Falcon Press.
c Dar, Alyse. Ed. 2008. Texas. New York, NY: Langenscheidt Publishers, Inc.
d Dingus, Anne. Ed. 1981. The Book of Texas Lists. Austin, TX: Texas Monthly Press.
e Lindsell-Roberts, Sheryll. 2004. Whacky Laws, Weird Decisions, and Strange Statutes. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company.
f McAuliffe, Emily. 2003. Texas: Facts and Symbols. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
g Meyerson, Harold. “The Sad Facts behind Rick Perry’s Texas Miracle.” Washington Post. August 16, 2011. Accessed: September 12, 2011.
h Naylor, June. 2009. Off the Beaten Path: Texas. 8th Ed. Guilford, CT: GPP Travel.
i Pohlen, Jerome. 2006. Oddball Texas: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press.
j Powell, Mary Jo. 2005. On-the-Road Histories: Texas. Northampton, MA: Interlink Books.
k “Texas Is No. 1 Carbon Polluter in U.S.” CBS News. February 11, 2009. Accessed: September 12, 2011.