No. 499



One time I heard a story about this man from Texas who was bragging
about how big his state was, and a man who was from Alaska overheard him.
This man from Alaska said, ³Mister, if you don¹t quit bragging about how big
Texas is, we are going to divide our state in half and then Texas will be
third.² I¹ve shared this before, but having traveled a good deal in Texas,
it¹s hard to imagine that another state could be more than twice the size,
in terms of square miles, than this giant state. Yet, it¹s true. Texas has
268,851 square miles while Alaska has 663,267 square miles, making it more
than twice the size. You will have an even better picture when you consider
the population of Alaska in the last national census was 626,932 and for
Texas it was 20,851,820.
Over the years I have always wanted to travel to Alaska and view the
pristine wilderness areas, see the wildlife and fish in some of those remote
places for many different species of game fish. Many of my friends have gone
to The Last Frontier, but somehow a trip like this has eluded me. Who knows,
maybe someday I will be invited up to this great state to kick off a
literacy campaign. But back to the state of Texas and a central question for
you. Regardless of where you were born or reared, how much do you know about
your state? To carry this question a step further, how much do you know
about the United States of America?
Since I have personally marketed this column for the past 11 years, I
have been blessed to talk with newspaper publishers and editors in every
state in the nation. By looking at state maps and seeing where the major
cities and towns are located, I have a pretty good education along these
lines. This sure comes in handy when I watch the national news and hear
about newsworthy events and can mentally see and have some knowledge of the
people, state and community. One thing is for sure, we have a great country
here. I feel so blessed to have been born here and be able to enjoy the
blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness our forefathers
talked about.
The other day a reader sent me something titled, ³Some little known
Texas facts,² and I would like to pass them along to you. If you live in
some other state and have some information along these lines, please share
it with me and I will do my best to pass it along in a future column. I
believe you will agree it would serve our mutual interests if every American
would seek to learn more about their community, state and our nation. More
people would come to truly understand that America is worth fighting for,
and would be on guard to defeat those people and influences, both external
and internal, that seek to destroy us.
Here are those Texas facts: Beaumont to El Paso: 742 miles, Beaumont to
Chicago: 770 miles. El Paso is closer to California than Dallas. World¹s
first rodeo was in Pecos, Texas, July 4, 1883. The Flagship Hotel in
Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water. The Heisman
Trophy was named after John William Heisman, who was the full-time coach for
Rice University in Houston. Brazoria County has more species of birds than
any other area in North America. Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home
of North America¹s only remaining flock of whooping cranes. Jalapeno jelly
originated in Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1978.
The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was in 1900, caused by a
hurricane in which more than 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island. The
first word spoken from the moon, July 20, 1969, was ³Houston.² The King
Ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island. Tropical storm Claudette
brought a U.S. rainfall record of 43 inches in 24 hours in and around Alvin,
Texas, in July 1979. Texas is the only state to enter the U.S. by treaty
instead of by annexation. This allows the Texas flag to fly at the same
height as the U.S. flag, and also gives Texas the right to separate from the
U.S. A Live Oak tree near Fulton, Texas, is estimated to be 1,500 years old.
Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.
Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period after Dr in
Dr Pepper. Texas has had six capital cities: Washington-on-the-Brazos,
Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco, West Columbia and Austin. The Capitol Dome
in Austin is the only dome in the U.S. which is taller than the Capitol
Building in Washington D.C. (by seven feet). The name Texas comes from the
Hasini Indian word ³tejas,² meaning friends. Tejas is not Spanish for Texas.
The state animal is the armadillo. The armadillo always has four babies!
They have one egg which splits into four and they either have four males or
four females. The first domed stadium in the U.S. was the Astrodome in
While this is a little different type column, hope you learned something
today. I sure did.
(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You
may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)