The Capitals of Texas

Kathleen Rice Adams, author

I spend a lot of time talking and writing about Texas history—all the people, places, and things that have made Texas a larger-than-life state. Every once in a while it’s interesting to reflect on what modern-day Texans have done with the legacy of ancestors who sacrificed, struggled, and bled .

Texas FlagIt’s true what they say, you know: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Texans take a great deal of pride in that statement, having been devoted to “big” since the state was an independent 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 sixty-nine official state capitals? Texas has seventy, actually, if one counts Austin.

Texas Bluebonnets
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 county-line 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 got its feelings hurt because it 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.

Texas crape myrtle
Yes, crape myrtles are pretty. Evidently, they’re pretty enough to fight over in Texas. (photo by Atamari)

Evidently another botanical fight erupted in 1997, this one over crape myrtles. Waxahachie, Paris, and Lamar County all got a part of that designation, as Crape Myrtle Capital, Crape Myrtle City, and Crape Myrtle County, respectively. It should be noted that the Crape Myrtle City is in the Crape Myrtle County, about as far north and east as one can go in Texas. Why Waxahachie, which is south of Dallas, insisted on a piece of the action is anybody’s guess.

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.

Resistol Hat
“King George” Strait is a Resistol fan.

The legislature named Garland the Cowboy Hat Capital of Texas in 2013, 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.

Texas horned lizard
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 horned lizard—horny toad to Texans, and found only in our state—it’s only right the little critter have its own capital. The legislature went wild 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 reptiles.

Caldwell is the Kolache Capital of Texas, but the Official Kolache of the Texas Legislature resides 100 miles away in West. Yep—must’ve been another fight.

Quite a few of Texas’s Official Capitals are associated with food:

  • Texas crawfish
    In Texas, we call crawfish “crawdads.” They look like miniature lobsters, and they’re the only thing in Texas that looks miniature. (photo by Jon Sullivan)

    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. (There appears to be no Seeded Watermelon Capital, but I’m sure the legislature will remedy that oversight soon.)

In case anyone isn’t completely fed up by now with Texas’s determination to out-big everyone else (Sixty-nine official state capitals? Seriously?), the complete list of Texas Official State Capital Designations is here.


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25 thoughts on “The Capitals of Texas”

  1. Fun post! Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. Since my mom’s high school hometown wasn’t on the link you helpfully provided, I decided to see if it claimed anything, and I found the following for Gladewater, Texas on Wikipedia:

    “The town is probably most famous as a base during Elvis Presley’s early career, and also as the town in which Johnny Cash wrote “I Walk the Line”. In the early 20th century, Gladewater was an oil boom town. Gladewater is known as the “Antique Capital of East Texas” with its Main Street downtown antique district.”

    If you look at the Wikipedia site, you can see a pic of the “Antique Capital” town sign. 🙂

    • Thank you for contributing to the list, Eliza! I knew Gladewater was a boom town, but I didn’t realize its connection to Elvis or Johnny Cash. What was Johnny Cash doing in Gladewater? It’s not big enough to host a concert.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      • “Cash stated, ‘I wrote the song backstage one night in 1956 in Gladewater, Texas. I was newly married at the time, and I suppose I was laying out my pledge of devotion.'”

        He was in the Air Force (1950-54) stationed in San Antonio initially where he met his first wife, and then after three years in Germany returned to Texas and married her. “The unique chord progression for the song was inspired by backwards playback of guitar runs on Cash’s tape recorder while he was in the Air Force stationed in Germany.”

        “The song was originally recorded at Sun Studio on April 2, 1956.”
        “…it became Cash’s first number one hit on the Billboard charts.”

        I also learned it was only his third recorded single so this was his breakthrough hit, and he likely had been playing smaller venues I’d guess. But then all concerts were much smaller than the filled stadiums we see today.

        For what’s worth, the first time I saw Waylon Jennings in the early ’70s when he first went “outlaw” breaking away from Nashville restrictions was in a local club with about 50 people!

  2. I guess everyone wants to be something special. Bragging rights, maybe? There seems to be an over abundance of this sort of thing. There seems to be a “National Day (or Month, or Week,) Of ……” for just about everything. It sort of lessens the honor. Thanks for an interesting post.

  3. I currently live in Kansas, but I’m from Stephenville, Texas it’s the Cowboy Capital of the world, since more Cowboys and cowgirls per capita rodeo and are represented at the National Finals Rodeo each year.
    Texas isn’t a state of mind.. It’s a whole other country.

  4. Dang straight! Texas certainly is big enough to be its own country — and so are Texans’ attitudes. 😀

    What the heck are you doing in Kansas? Since you’re from Stephenville, at least you won’t need a passport to come back. I’ll add Stephenville to the list. Cowboy Capital of the World is an honor!

    Thanks for coming by and letting us know. 🙂

  5. This is a fun post. I just looked up where I live, Mesquite TX, and it is what I thought it would be, the rodeo capital of Texas. And I am embarrassed to say I have never been to the rodeo.

  6. I love Texas and all of its “bigger and better” attitude! Who knew there were so many designated capitals. No other state in the union would be so bold! It has been a long time since I’ve seen a Horned Toad. I understand they are an endangered species, but when I was a kid, they were everywhere. I remember how they would spit. 🙂 Thanks for this interesting post!!

    • Jan, I haven’t seen a horned toad in forever, either. I hope they’re not fixing to disappear. 🙁

      They don’t say “everything’s bigger in Texas” for nothing! Of all the big things in the state, our bold attitude may be the biggest. 😀

  7. My husband and kids are Texans. They don’t let me forget that I’m not. I’ve lived in Abilene, Spearman, Seagraves, Midland, Sweetwater, and Commanche. I didn’t see Sweetwater on list. What about The Rattlesnake Roundup! I always enjoyed it! Sadly, we don’t live in Texas anymore due family reasons. Well , I do have one daughter that lives there. We are all jealous when she text us that she is eating a Whataburger! I sure do miss Texas!

  8. You gotta love folks wanting to be remembered for something. Thanks for the fun history lesson. Doris/Angela

  9. OH…wait a minute…I thought I saw you didn’t like Whataburger…this is a case of good twin/evil twin for us, Kathleeny. It’s serious now. I love me some Whataburger. It’s clear you need more training…

    Loved the post! Better late than never, right? Love all your “capitals”–those are awesome! I love the bluebonnets…that’s a gorgeous pic you posted!

  10. You should have given a pronunciation note for Elgin. Loved the list. Haven’t gone to the list yet but, did Tyler make it as the rose Capitol?

  11. Love this wonderful Texas info! I have lived in Texas my whole life and love the great state!

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