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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Capitals of Texas

“Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Texans take a great deal of pride in that statement, having been devoted to “big” since the days of the Lone Star Republic. From its admission to the Union in 1845 until someone exhibited extremely poor judgment and granted statehood to Alaska in 1959, Texas was the biggest U.S. state by far. Ever since that unfortunate dethroning, Texans have felt compelled to prove we can out-big the best of ’em by conspicuously displaying big houses, big vehicles, big fortunes, and big hair.

Sometimes, though, even Texans think this “big” thing has gotten out of hand. Take, for example, the list of Official State Capital Designations. Who in their right mind thinks any state needs 69 official state capitals? Texas has 70, actually, if you count Austin.

Texas Bluebonnets outside Ennis (photo by Jeffrey Pang)
Austin, as it turns out, lies at the heart of the ridiculously big list. In 1981, probably in an effort to head off a border war, the legislature passed a joint resolution naming Burnet County and Llano County the Bluebonnet Co-capitals of Texas. The Bluebonnet City is Ennis, which is in neither county but probably received the designation because it got its feelings hurt, seeing as how Ennis does put on quite a show during bluebonnet season.

From there, the legislature got the bit in its teeth and went hog wild. The official representatives in the official Official State Capital in Austin went on a designating binge from which the state has yet to emerge.

Yes, crape myrtles are pretty. Evidently, they're pretty
enough to fight over in Texas. (photo by Atamari)
Evidently another fight erupted in 1997, this one over crape myrtles. Lamar County, Waxahachie, and Paris all got a part of that designation, as Crape Myrtle County, Crape Myrtle Capital, and Crape Myrtle City, respectively. In fairness, it probably should be said that Paris is in Lamar County, about as far north and east as one can go in Texas. Why Waxahachie, which is south of Dallas, got involved is anybody’s guess.

"King George" Strait is a Resistol fan.
Wildflowers evidently caused yet another set-to, because the legislature named both the City of Temple and DeWitt County, about 162 miles apart, the Official Wildflower Capital of Texas. Both probably remain dismayed they have to share the honor.

In 2013, the legislature named Garland the Cowboy Hat Capital of Texas, which makes sense because that’s where Resistol Hats got their start. The designation Dinosaur Capital of Texas also makes sense for Glen Rose, since a plethora of dinosaur tracks—including some that had never been seen before—were discovered in the area at the turn of the 20th Century. But the Hippo Capital of Texas (Hutto)? The Jackrabbit-Roping Capital of Texas (Odessa)? Even Texans wonder who had gotten into the mescal when those ideas were trotted out.

A Texas horny toad. Cute li'l feller, ain't he?
(photo by Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Since the Official Texas State Reptile is the Texas Horned Lizard—“horny toad” to Texans, and unique to the state—it’s only right the little critter have its own capital. The legislature went a little overboard on this one, in 2001 designating Kenedy the Texas Horned Lizard Capital of the World. That may be justified, though, because Kenedy’s human population of about 3,000 is probably outnumbered by the toads.

Cream cheese kolache from the
Little Czech Bakery in West,
TX (photo by Larry D. Moore)
Caldwell is the Kolache Capital of Texas, but the Official Kolache of the Texas Legislature resides one hundred miles away in West. Yep. Must’ve been another fight.

In fact, quite a few of Texas’s Official Capitals are associated with food:
  • Elgin is the Sausage Capital.
  • Floydada is the Pumpkin Capital.
  • Friona is the Cheeseburger Capital.
  • Hawkins is the Pancake Capital.
  • Lockhart is the Barbecue Capital.
  • Madisonville is the Mushroom Capital.
  • Mansfield is the Pickle Capital.
  • Mauriceville is the Crawfish Capital.
  • Parker County is the Peach Capital.
  • Weslaco is the Citrus Capital.
  • West Tawakoni is the Catfish Capital.
  • Knox City is the Seedless Watermelon Capital.

In Texas, we call crawfish "crawdads." (photo by Jon Sullivan)
There appears to be no Seeded Watermelon Capital, but I’m sure the legislature will rectify that oversight soon.

In case anyone isn't completely fed up with the list by now, a complete accounting of Texas's Official State Capital Designations is here. .


The burning question for today:

What other Official State Capitals do you think Texas needs?


  1. Where the heck is the armadillo capitol in Texas? I only ever saw one live armadillo the year I lived in Texas, but there were plenty of them dead on every road. In San Antonio I saw a shop with armadillo pocketbooks. I wanted one, but never bought one. Thinking back on it now, I made the right decision. Imagine finding the armadillo purse in the back of a dark closet by surprise. It may not be true, but some of the Texans told me they ate armadillos. Yuck! Anyhow, seems like Texas ought to have an armadillo capitol. Just sayin'...
    As always, I liked reading your blog about all the capitols of this and that in Texas, Kathleen. Oh yeah, sorry about Alaska stealing all the "big" fame from Texas. It's hogging up all the reality shows on TV right now. But I'd sure would rather be in Texas in the winter than in Alaska.

    1. Sarah, I'd rather experience the worst winter weather in Texas than the winter in Alaska. Can you just imagine all that ice and snow with wind chills way below zero. Ugh.

      Now that you mention it, I can't believe Texas doesn't have an armadillo capital! The armadillo is one of the official state animals, too! This is an outrage.

      I understand people do eat armadillo, but I'm not sure that's safe. Scientists have confirmed a longstanding rumor: The critters carry leprosy.

      Thanks for stopping by, sweetie. HUGS!!!!

  2. My city (Bucyrus, Ohio) is the Bratwurst capital of America. Yepp, we earned the right against Sheboygan, Wi to win the title. (Although a judge in that city tried to declare them Brat capital of the world because they could no longer use America, I believe Germany would take that honor )

    1. Yay, Bucyrus! You showed those Wisconsinites! :-)

      Good point about Sheboygan having an intimidating rival in Germany. :-D

  3. Oh my Kathleen, what a contentious bunch you have in your state. We just legalize pot and mellow out (Couldn't help that one). But speaking of contentious, I would pose that Colorado would be the biggest state if we flattened all the forteeners ( over 50+) no one could touch us.

    All joking aside, I loved this post. It gave me a great deal of smiles and laughter. Tell Texas to keep up the good work. Doris

    1. Lord, Doris, if the Texas legislature does much more good work of this sort, every inch of the state will be the Official State Capital of something. :-D

  4. Armadillos and leprosy in the Great State of Texas a mere 80 miles south of me????? OMZ (Z for Zeus to stay religiously neutral in my deity invoking) Here in southeastern Colorado, I'm surrounded by prairie dogs that carry bubonic plague (though some sources refute this), and squirrels and skunks that carry rabies.

    What's next? Daschunds as carriers of too much cuteness? I'll have to get vaccinated....

    1. LOL, Kaye! Between Dachshunds and Chihuahuas, we're both doomed. :-D

      I've heard prairie dogs carry the "plague flea," but I can't attest to that from personal experience. I'm hoping possums haven't joined them in their quest to annihilate the human race, because a possum has decided under my house makes the perfect condo. :-\