13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Lone Star State
By: Piper Meeks, Contributor
Texans are proud of their state and will be the first to say so. With such a vast amount of land, Texas offers physical diversity at its finest: lakes, mountains, beaches, deserts, ranches, farms, prairies and rivers. But there is so much more to Texas than meets the eye. Sure, it’s undeniably big and bold, but Texas also has an important role within the history and culture of America – something every Texan should be proud of. In this article, we have narrowed down some of the most unique and interesting facts about Texas that illustrate the diversity of our great state.
1. Although six flags have flown over Texas, there have been eight changes of government throughout history: Spain from 1519-1685, France from 1685-1690, Spain again from 1690-1821, Mexico from 1821-1836, the Republic of Texas from 1836-1845, the United States from 1845-1861, the Confederate States of America (during the American Civil War) from 1861-1865, and the U.S. flag once again from 1865 to the present.
2. Texas was an independent nation from 1836-1845 until it officially became the 28th state to join the United States on December 29, 1845. It is the only state to enter the United States by a joint resolution treaty rather than territorial annexation.
3. The capital of Texas is Austin, located in south-central Texas on the Colorado River. The dome of the capitol building in Austin towers seven feet higher than that of the nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C. The building is made from Texas pink granite and at the time it was built in 1888, it was said to be the seventh largest building in the world.
4. Approximately 74% of Texas is covered by farms and ranches. Texas has the largest single ranch in the United States, the King Ranch, which spreads over six counties and is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. In fact, 220 Rhode Islands could fit in the state of Texas.
5. Texas covers roughly 268,601 square miles and stretches 800 miles each way, occupying about seven percent of the total water and land area of the United States. There are 742 miles between Beaumont, Texas to El Paso, Texas and 770 miles between Beaumont and Chicago, Illinois. Also, El Paso is actually closer to Needles, California than it is to Dallas, Texas.
6. Since Texas covers such an enormous amount of land, the climate can vary dramatically throughout the state. For example, on March 27, 1984, the temperature in Brownsville (located in south Texas – right on the U.S.-Mexico border) was 106 degrees while Amarillo (located in north Texas’ panhandle) reported snow and 35 degrees.
7. The deadliest natural disaster in United States history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston on September 4, 1900. The category 4 hurricane had winds estimated at more than 140 mph and a storm surge higher than 15 feet. Over 8,000 deaths were recorded in Galveston alone and the damages were estimated to be around $20 million, which is about $700 million in today’s dollars.
8. Spindletop, near Beaumont in East Texas, was Texas’ first oil gusher in 1901, which signaled the beginning of the state’s oil boom. Texas is the country’s biggest producer of oil, cattle, sheep, minerals, cotton and wool. In fact, Texas produces more than a million barrels of oil a day, which consequently results in more carbon emissions than most countries.
9. The last battle of the American Civil War took place in Texas (Palmito Ranch near Brownsville) on May 12-13, 1865, more than a month after General Lee surrendered to General Grant in Virginia.
10. The Battle of the Alamo occurred in San Antonio, Texas and lasted nearly two weeks. At its end on March 6, 1836, all of its defenders were defeated (about 190 people) by the 4,000-5,000 soldiers of the Mexican army of Santa Anna. Among those killed were legends David Crockett, Jim Bowie and William B. Travis. The famous battle cry of Texas’ independence, “Remember the Alamo,” originated here.
11. Texas is home to Dell and Compaq computers. Central Texas is often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of the South.”
12. Texas holds three of the top ten most populous cities in the United States: Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
13. Dr Pepper was “invented” in Waco, Texas in 1885 and is the oldest of the major brands of soft drinks in the United States. The Dublin Dr Pepper, 85 miles west of Waco, used pure imperial cane sugar in its product rather than high-fructose corn syrup, but in January 2012 the company announced that they would no longer sell Dublin Dr Pepper as a result of a trademark dispute. And no, these aren’t typos – there really is no period after the “Dr” in Dr Pepper.
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