25 Crazy Facts About Texas
Everything's always bigger (and crazier) in Texas.
When you think of Texas, you probably think of cowboy boots, Stetson hats, the movie Giant, and the phrase "Howdy, y'all!" But as someone who was born and raised here, I can tell you that most non-Texans don't know the half of it when it comes to Texas facts. The Lone Star State is unlike any other place in the world, and we Texans have a whole heckin' ton of pride about it. From the panhandle to the Valley, El Paso to Corpus Christi, Texas is full of surprises.
So, yes, we do say "y'all" all the dang time, and sure, you'll find plenty of Texans who love their cowboy gear more than life itself. But even if you thought you had Texas pegged, you'll want to brush up on the craziest Texas facts of all time.
Yep, you read that right. The King Ranch in South Texas covers 1,289 square miles. Compare that to the size of the entire state of Rhode Island, which is 1,212 square miles. There's also a windmill farm that's about seven times the size of Manhattan.
One Texas town renamed itself to get free cable.
The town of DISH in Denton County used to be called Clark. But one day in 2005, satellite television company Dish Network made Clark an offer it couldn't refuse. In exchange for renaming the town DISH, each of its 201 residents would receive free basic television service for ten years and a free digital video recorder. Could you blame them?!
One Texas town rescheduled Halloween because it conflicted with football.
Texas football is no joke. In fact, in 2014 the small town of Decatur voted to reschedule Halloween to October 30 because the October 31 date would have conflicted with the local high school's Friday night football game.
Makes total sense—but that's not all. Nearly 14 percent of the state's high school stadiums boast video scoreboards and the high-school football game with the all-time highest attendance rate was a 2013 playoff game that brought together 54,357 fans.
It's illegal to milk someone else's cow in Texas.
Texas is pretty quirky, and all it takes is a look at its legal code to see that. The state still has plenty of strange, antiquated laws that will definitely raise your eyebrows. For instance, it's illegal to sell your eye, to dust a public building with a feather duster, to milk somebody else's cow, and to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. And you absolutely cannot let a camel run loose on the beaches of Galveston. On the other hand, it's totally legal for you to shoot and kill Bigfoot if you happen to see him out and about.
There is a dialect of German that's only spoken in Texas.
Texas has a huge amount of German cultural influence thanks to the influx of German immigrants who came to the state in the mid-19th century. "Texas German" is still spoken today, and you'll encounter it particularly in the towns of Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, Boerne, Schulenburg, and Weimar.
There's only one place called "Earth" in the world—and it's located in Texas.
Texas is filled with tiny little towns that boast awesome names. If you can't afford a European vacation, just hop in your car and drive through Paris, Athens, Naples, London, Dublin, and Florence, Texas. There's even a town called Earth in the plains of Llano Estacado—and its the only town on the planet to bear that name.
Six Flags theme parks owe their name to Texas's history.
When Texas businessman Angus G. Wynne decided to open his first theme park in 1961, he wanted to call it something that would serve as an homage to his home state's history. From that inspiration came the amusement park Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, which pays tribute to the fact that in its entire history, Texas has been owned by six different countries.
If you're interested, here's the rundown: Texas belonged to Spain from 1519 to 1685, was taken by France from 1685 to 1690, then Spain again from 1690 to 1821. After Mexico won its independence from Spain, Texas was a part of Mexico from 1821 to 1836. It became the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1846, then joined the U.S. from 1846 to 1861. It seceded to join the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865. Of course, after the Civil War ended, Texas re-joined the U.S.
Texas once went ten years as an independent country.
Here's a brief primer on Texas history: During the age of Manifest Destiny, wagonloads of American settlers came into Texas (which at the time was a part of Mexico) and eventually decided that they wanted their independence. The Texas Revolution lasted from October 2, 1835, to April 21, 1836, culminating in the formation of the Republic of Texas. The country lasted just 10 years (tough break) before it agreed to join the United States. It became the 28th state of the union on February 19, 1846.
The phrase "Don't mess with Texas" comes from an anti-litter campaign.
This tough phrase has become iconic, but it was actually invented by an advertising agency in 1985 for the Texas Department of Transportation. (And everyone who lived in Texas during the '90s will remember the slogan from the classic commercials that would come on TV.) The Don't Mess With Texas campaign still works today to educate the public and prevent littering.
Texas is more than twice the size of Germany.
Texas is bigger than you think it is. Clocking in at 268,497 square miles, Texas is larger than every country in Europe and could easily fit a handful of European countries within its borders. (In fact, if you strategically juxtaposed the shape of Texas over a map of Europe, you could cover the cities of Paris, Prague, Milan, Amsterdam, Brussels, Munich, and Florence.) Not to mention, one in every 12 Americans lives in Texas. When they say "everything's bigger in Texas," they're not kidding.
Texas has its own pledge of allegiance.
If Texas is one thing, it's proud. Some Texans boast that the state is the only one that's allowed to fly its state flag at the same height as the American flag. (In fact, all states are technically allowed to do this, but most don't.) Students are also required by state law to recite both the American pledge of allegiance and the Texas pledge every morning. Here's how that one goes: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."
The Texas flag looks extremely similar to the Chilean flag—which causes a lot of confusion.
So much so that in 2017, Rep. Tom Oliverson of Houston introduced a piece of legislation that called for Texans to stop using the Chilean flag emoji (that's the Chilean flag pictured above) in place of the Texas Flag. (Technically, this resolution, HCR75, is non-binding, which means there are no legal penalties for disregarding it.)
Here's the official ruling: "RESOLVED, That the 85th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby reject the notion that the Chilean flag, although it is a nice flag, can in any way compare to or be substituted for the official state flag of Texas and urge all Texans not to use the Republic of Chile flag emoji in digital forums when referring to the Lone Star Flag of the great State of Texas."
The U.S. has three power grids: One for the East, one for the West, and one for Texas.
The continental U.S. is served by three separate power grids: The Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and Texas. It all has to do with the state's commitment to avoiding federal regulations. According to the Texas Tribune, "In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Power Act, which charged the Federal Power Commission with overseeing interstate electricity sales. By not crossing state lines, Texas utilities avoided being subjected to federal rules."
Austin has the most live music venues per capita in the U.S.
The capital of Texas, Austin, boasts the claim of being the Live Music Capital of the World. The city holds this title by having the most live music venues per capita in the nation. Austin is home to more than 1,900 bands and performing artists, and more than 250 concert venues. Whether you come into town for one of the many music festivals (including Austin City Limits and SXSW), or you're just taking a stroll down the iconic Sixth Street, you're sure to hear some incredible music while you're there.
The word "Texas" means "friends."
Texas (originally known as "Tejas") was named by the native people who lived here before the Spanish conquest. The name is a Hasinai word for "friends" or "allies." Today, the Texas state motto is simply, "Friendship."
Dr. Pepper is a Texas native.
Dr. Pepper is one of the oldest (and in many peoples' opinions) most delicious soft drinks out there. It was invented by Charles Alderton, a pharmacist at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, in 1885. Alderton was inspired by the scent of the drugstore—a mix of fruity syrups—and decided to make a carbonated drink to match the smell. In fact, the Dr. Pepper Museum, located in the 1906 Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company, makes for a great stop if you're ever in Waco.
Texas high-schoolers exchange extravagant Homecoming Mums instead of corsages.
And these things can cost thousands of dollars! The tradition started with a simple chrysanthemum flower given from a high school guy to his homecoming date—but then it took on a life of its own. Nowadays, these mums can include literally hundreds of flowers, cost hundreds of dollars, and be as large as five feet tall. On the plus side, you get your money's worth. Texans wear these things all day at school and then to the homecoming game afterward.
You can thank Texas for Whole Foods and 7-Eleven.
You can find these stores everywhere now, but they both got their start in good ole Texas. 7-Eleven traces its origin to Dallas in 1927, when the Southland Ice Company began selling food in its stores and called the businesses "Tote'm Stores." They changed their name to 7-Eleven in 1946 to advertise their new store hours. Whole Foods was founded in Austin in 1980, and at the time was one of only a dozen natural food stores in the country.
The State Fair of Texas boasts the largest Ferris wheel in North America.
It's also the largest and longest-running state fair in the country. Established in 1886, the State Fair of Texas takes place every fall in Dallas and lasts 24 days. Here, you'll find tons of fried food, carnival rides, live music, agriculture contests, and a whole ton of Texas price. You'll know you're there when you see Big Tex, the gigantic statue that is the fair's mascot. Last year's event welcomed more than two million visitors.
Austin is home to the world's largest urban bat colony.
If you're in Austin between March and October, you can catch a glimpse of the South Congress Avenue Bridge bats, the largest urban colony of bats in the world. Around sunset, the city's 1.5 million bats take off into the night and it's nothing short of a sight to behold. If you pay attention, you'll find bat symbols and allusions all over Austin.
There's nothing like authentic Tex-Mex.
Authentic Tex-Mex is a fusion of Mexican, Tejano, and American traditions that is all its own. Chow down on some fajitas, try yourself a breakfast taco—and don't you dare leave the state without getting a taste of classic Tex-Mex queso. You'll also want to scoop up some chili, which is the official state dish, and chips and salsa, which is the official state appetizer. Yum!
The hamburger was (allegedly) invented in Texas.
Speaking of good food to be had in Texas, the town of Athens holds a (slightly controversial) claim as the birthplace of the hamburger. But that's that not the only good thing on the grill. Texas barbecue is an art all its own, and an absolute must-try. And surprisingly, that was not invented here. The first reference to American barbecue came from Salem, Massachusetts, in 1773.
The Texas State Capitol is 15-feet taller than the U.S. Capitol.
Not that it's a contest, but the Texas State Capitol building is bigger than the capitol in Washington, D.C. They're 308 feet and 288 feet, respectively. Featuring a similar dome shape, the two capitol buildings also look oddly alike. The Texas capitol is made out of Texas Hill Country limestone and granite and features a marble statue on the top called the Goddess of Liberty. Sadly, it's only the second-tallest state capitol in the country. Number one is Louisiana, whose 450-foot capitol is also the seventh tallest building in the state.
The Texas Department of Transportation has a team of gardeners with a very important job.
It's an annual springtime tradition for Texans to pull over on the side of the road, get out of the car, and take pictures in the bluebonnets and other wildflowers that line the sides of our highways. (Bluebonnets, by the way, are the state flower of Texas.) Since the 1930s, gardeners at the Texas Department of Transportation have spread more than 30,000 pounds of wildflower seeds along the highways each year in an effort to preserve the growth of native wildflowers. And when they bloom, it is simply stunning.
Texas is the fastest growing state in the U.S.
In Austin, you might hear the phrase "Welcome to Texas! Please don't move here." Recent census data shows that Texas cities are growing faster than any other state. And for more insane facts about America, check out The Craziest Fact About Every U.S. State
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