Texas has long been known for its size

November 28, 2012 1:18 pm

Texas has long been known for its size. It was the largest state in the until 1959, when Alaska became a state. Now Texas is second largest. “Texas-sized” describes anything really huge, like a great big steak or the Texas ten-gallon hat.
Facts About Texas
23,900,000 people
Rank among states in population
Major cities
Houston, Dallas, San Antonio
269,000 square miles
696,000 square kilometers
Rank among states in area
December 29, 1845, the 28th state
State nickname
The Lone Star State
Name for residents
State bird
State flower
State tree
Texas is famous for its oil. Today, Texas leads all other states in the production of oil and natural gas. Texas has become wealthy from oil money and from manufacturing related to oil, such as chemicals and oil-drilling equipment.
The Texas oil business took off in 1901, when drillers hit a “gusher” at Spindletop, near Beaumont in southeastern Texas. The oil came out of the ground with such force that it destroyed the drill and the derrick—the structure used to lower the drill and pipes. The oil spurted 100 feet (30 meters) into the air.
After Spindletop, people began to look for oil all over Texas. In western Texas, drilling crews often encountered wildcats as they set up their equipment. Sometimes, the drillers shot these wildcats and hung them on oil derricks. These wells were called wildcat wells. The people who ran them were called wildcatters. Today, wildcatter refers to someone who uses a hunch rather than scientific studies to look for oil.
Oil helped build the two largest cities in Texas, Houston and Dallas. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States and the center of the nation’s oil industry. It is also a major port. Dallas is the nation’s eighth largest city and an important manufacturing center. Both cities built towering skyscrapers during the oil boom of the 1970s.
Space missions are directed from the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. Astronauts are trained here. Flight controllers and other experts direct spaceflights from computers at the Mission Control Center. They also help maintain the International Space Station. At the visitor’s center, you can go inside a space capsule, see where astronauts train, and find out what it’s like to travel in space.
Much of Texas is flat plains used for cattle ranching. Texas leads the United States in raising cattle as well as sheep. The city of Fort Worth, Texas, grew as a cattle market. Its nickname is Cowtown.
Texas isn’t all flat plains, however. To the south, swamps and long, white beaches border the coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Pinewoods cover rolling hills to the east. To the west are canyons, mountains, and deserts.
The Rio Grande forms the border between Texas and Mexico. Rio Grande means “big river” in Spanish. Big Bend National Park lies along a large turn in the river, in southwestern Texas. It includes steep canyons and a large desert bordered by mountains. You’ll find colorful, unusual plants and many kinds of birds and other animals in the park.
Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State. Did you know that Texas was an independent country from 1836 to 1845? Its flag had a single star on it. On December 29, 1845, Texas became the 28th state in the United States. It kept the flag with a lone star. Austin is the capital of Texas.
Texas got its name from Spanish explorers who came to the region in the mid-1500s. They thought the Native Americans whom they met called themselves tejas. But what they heard as tejaswas actually a word meaning “friend.” When Texas declared its independence, it took the name Republic of Texas.
Before Texas declared its independence, it belonged to Mexico. In 1835, English-speaking colonists in Texas began to rebel against Mexican rule. The colonists took control of the town of San Antonio, but Mexican troops fought back. In March 1836, the Mexicans defeated a small group of Texan soldiers who were inside a San Antonio mission called the Alamo. All of the Texan soldiers were killed, including frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.
After the defeat at the Alamo, the Texans continued the fight for independence. Their battle cry was “Remember the Alamo.” In April 1836, Texan troops led by General Sam Houston defeated the Mexicans in the Battle of San Jacinto. After the battle, a treaty with Mexico ended the war and gave Texas its independence. Houston became the first president of Texas. The city of Houston was named in his honor. Today, the Alamo in San Antonio is one of the most popular tourist sites in Texas.
You’ve probably heard of Six Flags amusement parks, but do you know how they got their name? Six Flags over Texas, the first of the Six Flags parks, opened in Arlington, Texas, in 1961. The park took its name from the flags of six different nations that have flown over Texas during its history. These are the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. The Six Flags over Texas theme park had six sections that focused on the six Texas cultures.
The Texas Rangers help enforce the law. They move around the state to solve crimes. The Rangers were organized in 1835, just before Texas broke away from Mexico. Later in the 1800s, they fought horse thieves and cattle rustlers. The major league baseball team, the Texas Rangers, took its name from these law-keepers.
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