While Texas's state nickname is, famously, the "Lone Star State," it should
perhaps be referred to as the White Elephant State among travel writers and
would-be almanackers, in reference to the impossibility of the command,
"Don't think about a white elephant." It is apparently impossible to
discuss the state of Texas without referring constantly to its size.
Everything grows bigger in Texas. Texas is the second largest state in the
U.S. Texas is the largest state in the 48 contiguous states. Texas
contains a county that is larger than Connecticut, Rhode Island, and
Delaware. Imagine: a single county! In deference to this, here is the
Online Highways contribution to this long-standing tradition:
Texas is big.
That being said, Texas is home to over 125 state parks and forests, and
counts 90 mountains over a mile in height, with the tallest being Guadalupe
Peak at 8,751 feet. Size aside, Texas is a study in contrasts: West
Texas is an arid desert, while East Texas is a Southern hothouse, with a climate more often associated with Louisiana or Florida. On one day, Texas recorded simultaneous temperatures of 106 degrees (in Brownsville, on the southern Gulf Coast) and 35 degrees (in Amarillo, in the Texas "panhandle," that square chunk that protrudes from the northern border of the state).
While you may own any handgun, shotgun, rifle, or semi-automatic assault
weapon in Texas without a license, be sure not to use it on another human being, or you may join the 335 people executed in Texas since 1977 (35 percent of all U.S. executions, which, we can all agree, is certainly a big number).
Texas works diligently to maintain an atmosphere of slow, rural living.
Admittedly, much of the state is given over to farming and ranching, with a
state cattle population of 16,000,000, but there is much more to Texas than
agriculture, or oil production. Between the slow drawl made famous by John
Wayne and the Presidents Bush, the penchant for cowboy paraphernalia, and
the overt fascination with historical Texan lore such as The Alamo and the
battle of San Jacinto, it is often easy to forget that Texas is home to
NASA, several major universities and leading research facilities, and such
modern marvels as Dr. Pepper, which was invented in Waco.
The state song of Texas, "Oh Texas, Our Texas," includes the lines,
"Boldest and grandest, withstanding ev'ry test,/ O Empire wide and glorious, you stand supremely blest." While an uncouth person from another state might find it odd that a state that has been a part of the United States since
1845 should refer to itself as an "empire," surely we can all join the
Texans in singing the chorus: "God bless you Texas! And keep you brave and
strong,/ That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long."
Then perhaps we could all drop on in and celebrate Lyndon B. Johnson
Day, August 27, with a rousing fusillade of "Yeeha!"