Are You Hella Knowledgeable About Texas?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: ferrantraite / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

People say that everything's bigger in Texas ... so, is your knowledge base up to scale? This is a state with a lot of history behind it, as the saying "Six flags over Texas" reminds us. The expression refers to the governments that have ruled Texas: Spain, France and Mexico, the independent Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and, finally, the flag of the USA. 

How savvy are you about Texas? You might know that Dallas isn't the capital, or the name of the river that forms most of its border with Mexico. But do you know which other U.S. state Sam Houston was governor of? How about the origins of the slogan "Don't Mess With Texas," which was coined to combat a social problem. Or what "Spindletop" was?

Texas is claimed by both the American South and the Southwest. With an area of nearly 270,000 square miles, it can easily straddle two regions. And while it's famous for being oil-rich and a farming state, Texas has a surprisingly large tech sector and a rich musical history ... especially in Austin, namesake of the PBS show "Austin City Limits." 

Are you ready for a Texas trivia challenge? Fix yourself a plate of barbecue, pour a Shiner Bock and try your luck now! 

This animal, common on Texas highways, has a name meaning "little armored one." What is it?

The armadillo gets its name from its hide, made of interlocking scales. The Spanish word for "armed" is "armado," and the "-illo" ending is a diminutive. Around Texas, the armadillo is probably better known for its behavior of rolling into a ball when attacked, deploying its "armor" to good use.


Texas's southern border is defined by which river?

The Rio Grande flows south through New Mexico to form much of Texas's border with Mexico. Pro tip: Don't call it the "Rio Grande River." "Rio" is "river" in Spanish, making that phrase redundant.


What is Texas's nickname?

Texas's single star can be seen on its state flag. "The Star of the South" is a play on Minnesota's state motto, "L'Etoile du Nord" (The North Star State). And "the Gunshine State" was what some were calling Florida, the "Sunshine State," in the 1980s and '90s, thanks to liberal rules on sales and the high rate of gun ownership.


The Texas city of Waco is the birthplace of what soft drink?

Rumors have long swirled around this 150-year-old soft drink. Is there really prune juice in the formula? Was it named for a real medical doctor? Any way you look at it, Dr. Pepper is a mystery wrapped in an enigma being soundly beaten in the market by Coke and Pepsi.


The capital of Texas is ...

Austin is a mid-sized city, not a metropolis like Dallas or Houston. In addition to the capital, it is home to a state university and a thriving music and art scene.


Which cattle breed is strongly associated with Texas?

A Texas Longhorn bull's horns are a sight to see; sometimes their width can run to 70 inches, or nearly six feet wide. The Longhorn is the mascot of the University of Texas at Austin.


Texas is the adopted home of which prominent family?

We say "adopted" because the Bushes have roots in New England, with Prescott Bush serving as a Connecticut congressman, and four generations of Bushes having attended Yale. But George H.W. Bush moved his family to West Texas, and now they are inextricably linked with the state.


Who defeated the Texian forces at the Alamo?

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (pronounced "Santana") was not only a general, but Mexico's president at several points in its history. He initially opposed Mexico's push for independence from Spain, but evidently overcame those misgivings, as his performance leading troops clearly indicates.


"Don't Mess With Texas" was a slogan meant to combat what?

Most states with a lot of rural space and lonely county highways have a certain amount of trouble with trash dumping, often straight out of the windows of cars. The state introduced its now-iconic slogan during TV coverage of the Cotton Bowl in 1986, and saw a reduction in littering in the years that followed.


Texas's largest city (by population) is ______.

Houston, on the east coast of Texas, is a city of more than 2 million people. However, if Dallas and Fort Worth, neighbor cities, were counted together, they would make up the most populous city.


Which of these cities inspired a nighttime soap that enthralled 1980s America?

"Dallas" sparked a boom in prime-time soap opera that took a long time to run its course. The series that gave us the question "Who Shot J.R.?" was followed by "Dynasty," "Knots Landing" and "Falcon Crest."


In George Strait's classic "All My Exes Live in Texas," to what state has the singer retreated?

The lyric "All my exes live in Texas" is followed by the line, "That's why I hang my hat in Tennessee." The beleaguered narrator has four ex-wives around the Lone Star State.


If someone is talking about "the Aggies," they are referring to a sports team from ...

The school's former name was "The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas." With a large Corps of Cadets, it's no surprise that some believe the "M" stands for "military," and since the actual name is now "Texas A&M University," the leeway seems to be built-in. At any rate, the sports teams are called "the Aggies."


What term is commonly used to describe the ecosystem of East Texas?

Doesn't sound like a very formal name, does it? But this is the standard term for the flora that covers east Texas, as well as western Louisana and Arkansas. There are several national forests in the region, including the Sam Houston and the Davy Crockett.


Sam Houston is strongly associated with Texas, but he was also governor of which state?

Houston is the only person in U.S. history to govern two states, Tennessee and Texas. This colorful figure was born in Virginia, and spent time living among the Cherokee people, who named him "Raven."


Immediately before statehood, Texas was ...

While Spain, Mexico and France all controlled Texan land at some point, Texas was the Republic of Texas just before admission into the Union. Texans are proud of that part of their history.


One of these rivers does not flow through Texas. Which one is it?

There is a small Sacramento River, but it flows entirely through the adjacent Mexican state of Chihuahua. The Sacramento River in the United States flows from the Klamath Mountains in northern California to the San Joaquin watershed, also in that state.


Texas's state flower is the ________.

Sorry ... we know a lot of people probably leaned toward "rose," because of the song "The Yellow Rose of Texas." But Texas's state flower is a humble one, the Texas bluebonnet, which grows on the plains.


Which of these fast-food chains is based in Texas?

Whataburger was founded in Corpus Christi, Texas, and is currently headquartered in San Antonio. The founder, Harmon Dobson, loved flying, but died in a plane crash in 1967.


What is/was a "Texian"?

The members of the now-historic republic called themselves "Texians." There doesn't seem to be any reason why the name didn't stick after statehood, but at some point the "i" was dropped.


In place of "international," Houston's airport is George Bush ________ Airport.

Could the name of George Bush airport be a homage to Continental Airlines, which used Houston as its hub for many years? After all, the airport wasn't named after George H.W. Bush until 1997, after his term as U.S. president.


In which city would you find Love Field?

Love Field isn't Dallas's primary airport; that's Dallas-Fort Worth International. Still, this regional airport is well known enough that a movie about the aftermath of the JFK assassination was named for it.


In terms of area, where does Texas rank in size among U.S. states?

Only Alaska is larger in square mileage than this sprawling Southern state. It has a fairly large population, too, though residents are clustered in the large cities like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth.


The Sabine River forms Texas's boundary with what?

The Sabine River only forms part of the boundary between these two states. It has played an important role in boundary debates between the U.S. and Mexico, France and Spain.


During which war was the Battle of the Alamo fought?

The Texians wanted independence from Mexico, and weren't above asking for help from the United States (though they would eventually become independent, not a state until a later time). The Alamo was a mission-turned-garrison that became the site of a major defeat.


The battle that decided the "Texas Revolution" was fought where?

Goliad was the site of a battle the Mexican Army resoundingly won, much like the Battle of the Alamo. In fact, "Remember Goliad" was a rallying cry at the Battle of San Jacinto, a battle that lasted less than 20 minutes.


Which of these men was a defender of the Alamo?

William Travis isn't as well known as the other two, possibly because he died at only 26 years old. Bowie, for whom the knife is named, was 39. Crockett, who became a folk hero, was 50.


What is the "Big Bend"?

A river *is* involved in the naming of the Big Bend area: It's the region north of the sharp bend in the Pecos River, in western Texas. It's fairly sparsely populated, with the largest towns being Alpine and Presidio. (Never heard of 'em? That's kind of our point).


Where do the Dallas Cowboys play?

OK, Arlington is part of the larger Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. But AT&T Stadium, where "America's Team" plays, is situated within Arlington's city limits.


What was Texas's position during the Civil War?

Texas is sometimes described as a "Southern" state and other times as "Southwestern." Either way you look at it, Texas was a slave state before abolition and sided with the Confederate States of America, the short-lived nation led by Jefferson Davis.


What was "Spindletop"?

Spindletop, near the town of Beaumont, is where oil was struck for the first time in Texas. Reportedly, the gusher lasted for nine days, spewing about 100,000 gallons of crude oil. Somebody get a pail!


How many presidents has Texas given the United States?

Both Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Baines Johnson were born in Texas. Some people might count the Bushes, father and son, but they were both born elsewhere.


Which of these men was described as "the only law west of the Pecos"?

Roy Bean owned a saloon, and held court there. Usually, the phrase "held court" is informal, but he was a real justice of the peace. Despite a reputation as a "hanging judge," evidence indicates he only sentenced two men to that fate.


In terms of population, where does Texas fall in U.S. rankings?

You might not think of Texas as populous compared to states like New York and Florida, but it is home to more people than those two. About 29 million people live there. That number will undoubtedly change with the 2020 census.


If someone refers to the Texas Rangers, they are talking about ...

The Rangers have been a division of Texas law enforcement since the early 19th century (about 1823). The baseball team is newer, first playing in 1971 (though they were the Washington Senators for a time, based in Washington D.C.)


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