Monday, May 26, 2014


If you’re fond of cowboys (and who doesn't love those cowboy kisses?), you might be interested in knowing more about Texas. We have a lot of cowboys here, the genuine kind. Stick around for some interesting trivia about my favorite state.

Texas, known as the Lone Star State, joined the United States by treaty in 1845 after being a country for nine years. Because of the guidelines set out in this treaty, the Texas flag may be flown at the same height as the United States flag. Texas is called the Lone Star State because of the state flag's design: a broad vertical blue stripe at left, centered by a single white star, with horizontal bars of white and red on the right. Red means courage, White means liberty and Blue stands for loyalty. The star has five points, one for each letter of the state's name.

Texas is the only state to have the flags of 6 different nations fly over it. They are: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and the United States. And you thought Six Flags Over Texas was just an amusement theme park. Yes, I know there are Six Flags parks elsewhere, but this post is about Texas, okay?

Yum, here’s a fact that I love. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period after the Dr in Dr Pepper. Visualize me as a kid trying to convince my mom I actually needed Dr Pepper at ten, two, and four as written on the old bottles and advertised. Yeah, right. I was lucky to get one a week.

Another thing I love about Waco is that seventy-five percent of the world's Snickers bars are made there at the M&M/Mars plant. In my opinion, nothing is better than Dr Pepper and a Snickers or a Milky Way.

The hamburger was created in Athens, Texas. A hamburger goes well with a Dr Pepper. You knew I’d say that, right? Rats, now I've made myself hungry.

The Texas Rangers were organized in 1835 to protect the growing settlements from Indians and dangerous outlaws. They are very well respected here, the cream of our state law enforcement. The Stetson is a part of their uniform. Or it may be a Resistol, but the shape is the same. The Texas Ranger Museum is at Waco. Hey, Waco is sizing up to be a pretty important town, isn’t it?

The King Ranch near Corpus Christi is larger than the state of Rhode Island and includes 50,000 head of cattle and more than 2,000 miles of fence. That one boggles my mind. My husband's ancestors helped form Rhode Island. That boggles my mind, too. 

Longhorn cattle

Texas is known for its cattle, but more wool comes from the state of Texas than any other state in the United States. Edwards Plateau in west central Texas is the top sheep growing area in the country.

A coastal live oak located near Fulton is the oldest tree in the state. The tree has an estimated age of more than 1,500 years.

Children's book about the Armadillo
authored by my friend Dee Stuart
The armadillo is the official state mammal. Beware, as the armadillo is a carrier of leprosy. (That's a fact. Look it up, you doubters.) The mockingbird is the state bird, bluebonnet the state flower, pecan the state tree, and lightning whelk is the official state shell.


Texas includes 267,339 square miles, or 7.4% of the nation's total area. El Paso, Texas is closer to Needles, California (516 miles) than it is to Dallas, Texas (571 miles). Either one is a long drive.

Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world's largest rose garden with 38,000 rose bushes of 500 varieties in a 22-acre garden. In addition to a beautiful garden, I can attest to the garden's wonderful fragrance during blooming season. October is a great month to visit.

Amarillo has the world's largest helium well. Very important if you want to inflate a balloon, talk funny, or fly a blimp.

Photo I use on my blog
and my newsletters. The photo was taken by
my friend Nelda Liles of Frisco, Texas.
This photo relaxes me each time I see it.
The official dish of Texas is chili. If you’re a student of Spanish, you realize that isn’t a meat dish. The food's actual name should be chili con carne, but we just call it chili. And it doesn’t contain pinto beans. You have those as a side dish or add them to your chili after it's cooked, but they’re not cooked together. And I don't mean kidney beans. I mean pinto beans. I serve them with cornbread muffins. Yum. For a genuine recipe, email me at 

The World’s largest parking lot is located at DFW Airport. Well, unless you count Hwy. 121 and/or Interstate 35 at rush hour.  Amarillo airport has the 3rd largest runway in the world and is designated as an alternate landing site for the space shuttle.

We still have some of our old, quaint laws. In Texas, it's illegal to put graffiti on someone else's cow. I suppose that means it’s all right to put graffiti on your own cow. Don't you wonder how that law came into being in the first place?

The 1850 census recorded 213,000 people in Texas. In 1900, there were three million people, and by 1990, the population was more than 16 million. The 2010 census recorded approximately 18 million people live in Texas, only slightly outnumbering its 16 million cattle. No, the census takers didn’t talk to the cows. Their numbers are reported by ranchers I suppose. Texas's population is now the second largest in the country after California (which is where I lived for seven years when I was a girl).

Bluebonnets photographed near Ennis, Texas
by my friend Nelda Liles of Frisco, Texas
I love bluebonnets, so I'm including a second photo.

Have you heard the term “the old 300”? In 1820, American Moses Austin was granted land in Texas from Spanish officials. In 1821, his son, Stephen F. Austin, brought 300 families to farm along the Brazos River in Texas. Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, extended the boundaries of Austin’s colony and granted other Americans land in Texas. Being descended from one of the “old 300” families is a big deal in Texas. I don't have any ancestors in the old 300, but I have a lateral one who was here when Austin showed up.

The first suspension bridge in the United States was the Waco Bridge. Built in 1870, it is still in use today as a pedestrian crossing of the Brazos River. Dad blame it, that Waco is getting too much press time.

In 1519, Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Piñeda was the first European to visit Texas. Myths of the golden “Seven Cities of Cibola” brought many Spaniards from Mexico into Texas. Spanish missionaries built the first two missions near El Paso in 1682. By the late 1730s, missions and forts were built throughout central, east, and southwest Texas.

The Alamo mission,
cradle of Texas liberty
The Alamo is located in San Antonio. It is where Texas defenders including Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett fell to Mexican General Santa Anna and the phrase “Remember the Alamo” originated. The Alamo is considered the cradle of Texas liberty and the state's most popular historic site.

As of February 2011, the Dallas-Fort Worth area has more residents, 6.9 million, than 39 U.S. states. For example, Colorado has about 5.0 million residents. With, this tidbit about the area in which I live, I'll close the post. I hope you've enjoyed the trivia.

Caroline Clemmons' latest release is GABE KINCAID, book four of the Kincaid series.


Susan Horsnell said...

Hi Caroline
What a fabulous post. Loved it. Texas almost has the population of the whole of Australia! Can't wait to visit.

Julie Lence said...

Great post, Caroline. And yes, my first thought about it being illegal to draw on someone else's cow was, WTH? Who draws on a cow? I think you should do a blog on why that law originated.