9 Funky Facts About the Lone Star State

Posted on: August 31st, 2010 by Julia Rocchi 4 Comments

This Texas Tuesday, we're channeling Joe Friday and giving you just the facts, ma'am (and sir) -- nine "did you know" items, "whooda thunk" moments, and other tidbits about the Lone Star State.

  1. Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies.
  2. The Texas State Capitol houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor of Texas. Originally designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker oversaw its construction from 1882–88. It is the largest, but not the tallest, state capitol building in the United States (though it is seven feet higher than the nation's Capitol in DC). And no, your eyes do not deceive you ... the building is made of Texas pink granite. (See our Flickr slideshow of the Texas State Capitol.)
  3. The Hertzberg Circus Museum in San Antonio contains one of the largest assortments of circusana in the world.
  4. Though it's now established as the capital city of Texas, Austin was once the capital city of the Republic of Texas from 1840 to 1842. This makes it one of the few cities in the country to be both a country capital and a city capital.
  5. The armadillo is the official state mammal. The lightning whelk is the official state shell.
  6. Be warned: Texas will drive you batty. That's because more species of bats live in Texas than in any other part of the U.S. Check out the Mexican free-tail variety up close in Austin, where 1.5 million of them live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Each night, from March through October, these winged Austinites take flight across the city to grab their grub. (When you come for the National Preservation Conference, snag a spot on the bridge and watch the excitement!)
  7. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. The Dublin Dr Pepper, 85 miles west of Waco, still uses pure imperial cane sugar in its product.
  8. The highest point in Austin is Mount Bonnell at 785 feet -- a delightful break from Texas's usual flatness. Remember when our colleague Jason climbed to the top? Check out his views.
  9. Our apologies to anyone from Rhode Island, but the King Ranch in Texas is bigger than your entire state.

What fun facts do you know about Texas? Share them here!

* Thanks to Texas Facts and Trivia, 20 Fun and Interesting Facts about Austin, Texas, and Tripcart for supplying today's factoids.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the director of digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.


4 Responses

  1. Allison Chambers

    September 1, 2010

    FYI, the Hertzberg Circus Museum is closed, but the collection is now located at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

  2. Erwin Roemer

    September 1, 2010

    “Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies. ”

    Should have mentioned “Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies, ancestors of the federally recognized Caddo Nation of Oklahoma.”

    Why? The NTHP should take every opportunity to link historic info to living tribes engaged with historic preservation (as the Caddo Nation is).

  3. Denise Farrell

    September 1, 2010

    The vineyards of France were almost wiped out by the grape phylloxera in the 1860s. A Texan, Thomas V. Munson, provided phylloxera resistant rootstock that saved the vineyards and was awarded the Legion of Merit, France’s highest civilian award.

  4. Mark Osborne

    September 4, 2010

    Great ‘funky facts’ about Texas…or I should say Austin, San Antonio and Waco…I hope visitors will take the time to veer off of I-35 (and the popular Hill Country) and see more of Texas…the Pineywoods, the Gulf Coast, the Valley, Big Bend or West Texas…there is a lot more “funky” waiting to be discovered. http://www.traveltex.com/