Since its founding on December 29, 1845, Texas has been a land of legend. But some of the tall tales you hear about the Lone Star State actually are 100-percent based in fact — even if they sound too farfetched to be true. Because we know you may be planning a move to one of the fastest-growing places in the country, the team at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty created a list of some truly remarkable, completely legitimate and altogether fun facts about Texas. (And, as you’ll quickly learn, the adage that “everything is bigger in Texas” couldn’t be more accurate.)
1. The Republic of Texas was an actual country.
Between 1836 and 1845, Texas ruled itself as an independent nation and therefore is the only state in the union to become one of the 50 United States through a treaty rather than annexation.
2. The red, white and blue of Texas’ flag should look very familiar.
The red (bravery), white (purity) and blue (loyalty) of Texas’ state flag are legally required to exactly match the colors on the United States flag.
3. North America’s most populous bat colony is here.
With an estimated 20-million-plus bats, Bracken Cave in San Antonio is home to the largest known bat colony in all of North America. The bats that famously fly out nightly from Lady Bird Lake in Austin represent the largest known urban bat colony in the U.S.
4. The state capitol building in Austin is taller than the U.S. Capitol.
Though not the largest state capital in the United States, the Texas Capitol building is 15 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
5. Texas is larger than any European country.
At 268,820 square miles, the state of Texas is larger than many countries around the world, but, most impressively, it is bigger than any nation on the European continent.
6. King Ranch dwarfs Rhode Island.
Sprawling over 825,000 acres and covering nearly 1,300 square miles across six counties, the King Ranch in Kingsville takes up 75 square miles more land than the entire state of Rhode Island.
7. It is illegal to milk someone else’s cow.
Though the fine won’t exceed $10, milking a cow one doesn’t own violates the Texas Penal Code, because it is considered theft of personal property.
8. Texas is the live-music capital of the world.
With more than 250 of them, Austin has more live-music venues per capita than anywhere else in the United States. The city’s live music capital of the world slogan could be debated, but nobody has succeeded yet.
9. Vietnamese ranks behind only English and Spanish as Texas’ most-spoken language.
Nearly a quarter-million Vietnamese-Americans live in Texas, making their language the most spoken behind English and Spanish.
10. The frozen-margarita machine was invented in Dallas.
Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita machine more than 50 years ago — in May 1971 — by converting a soft-serve ice-cream machine. You can still get an original-recipe frozen margarita from one of his Dallas-area restaurants.
11. Anthony, Texas, is closer to San Diego, California, than it is to Beaumont, Texas.
Texas is so big that from the far-west Texas town of Anthony you can get to the west coast of California faster than you can to Beaumont, in the state’s farthest eastern region. It would take more than 12 hours to travel the 850 miles from Anthony to Beaumont, while a trip to San Diego would be closer to 10 hours for the 705-mile journey.
12. Palo Duro Canyon is pretty grand, too.
Only the Grand Canyon in Arizona is bigger than Palo Duro Canyon, its 800-foot descents making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.
13. Three Texas cities rank in the top 10 populations nationwide.
Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are among the top 10 most populous cities in the country, with Austin quickly rising in the ranks at No. 11.
14. The highest speed limit in the USA can be driven in Texas.
Texas State Highway 130 is a toll road that circumvents the highly congested Interstate 35 between Austin and San Antonio, making it faster to get from Point A to B. But the 85-mph speed limit along 41 miles of the road makes it even faster.