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5 Little-Known Fun Facts About Texas

At 268,597 square miles, Texas covers a lot of territory. And with that comes a lot of interesting people and stories too. Bigger than many nations around the world, including every country in Europe, Texas thrives on big personalities and a bold history. Leland’s Cabins embraces that same big and bold spirit, and we’re proud to boast that our cabin showroom is the largest in Texas, if not the United States. Stop by Grandview for a visit and see for yourself, and chew on a few other interesting fun-facts about Texas while you’re at it.

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One: It’s illegal to let your camel run loose through the streets of Galveston.

This little-known law traces back to 1856, when the U.S. War Department loaded dozens of camels from Turkey, Egypt, and other parts of the Mediterranean onto ships and set sail for Galveston Bay. The idea was to import these “ships of the desert” into Texas as means of building roads west toward California’s gold, as well as to help settlers push into lands controlled by Native American tribes. Horses and mules weren’t up to the task, so the surefooted camels—who could take the heat, walk for days without a drop of water, and munch on the cactus plants—were picked to do the job. After the end of the Civil War, when the Camel Corps was disbanded, camels could be found still roaming the range. That was fine, so long as they weren’t running wild through Galveston’s neighborhoods.

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Two: Oscar is named for a Texan.

“Why, that looks just like my Uncle Oscar!” This is the exclamation made by Margaret Herrick, Academy Award librarian and future Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, when she first saw the coveted golden Academy Award statuette back in 1931, according to Emanuel Levy, author of All About Oscar: The History and Politics of the Academy Awards. She was referring to Oscar Pierce, her relative and a “Texas farmer of dignity, austerity, and commanding authority.” Columnist Sidney Skolsky, who is said to have been there, wrote that “Employees have affectionately dubbed their famous statuette ‘Oscar.’”

Other theories say that during Walt Disney’s Academy Award acceptance speech in 1934, he referred to the statuette, which stands 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds, as “the Oscar.” But this nickname was supposedly already well-established within the industry—from Uncle Oscar. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929, in the Blossom Room of Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel; but the nickname “Oscar” wasn’t officially adopted for the statuette by the Academy until 1939.

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Three: Texas is a little batty.

It’s true: More species of bats live in Texas than in any other part of the United States. According to the Bats of Texas, there are 33 species of bats in four families documented in the Lone Star State. And for Austin especially, the Mexican free-tailed bats are a treasure. Each night in the summertime, visitors to the Ann Richards Bridge on Congress Avenue can get an upclose view of their flights. Reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour as they feed on Austin bugs, the bat show lasts 45 to 60 minutes. Another site for bat lovers to see is Bracken Cave, on the edge of San Antonio, home to the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats on the planet.

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Four: Six Flags Over Texas is more than an amusement park.

The phrase refers to the six powers that ruled over Texas territory through history. The flags belonged to Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States during the Civil War, and the United States. It all began with Spain, whose presence began in 1519 when Alonso Álvarez de Pineda claimed Texas for the crown. Spain’s domination lasted until 1685, when France got into the act and established a colony in the area between New Spain and Florida. This only lasted until about 1690, until Spain could wrest control back. Texas fell under the Mexican flag next, when it became a province of the newly formed nation of Mexico in 1821. This was followed by the establishment of the Republic of Texas (1836–1845), until Texas joined the Union as the 28th state. For four years, Texas flew under the banner of the Confederate States of America (1861–1865) until the Civil War ended and Old Glory flew once again. The slogan “Six Flags Over Texas” has become popularized in a variety of ways throughout the state, from shopping malls to amusement parks, and the six flags are part of the official seal of Texas.

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Five: The term “maverick” originated with a Texan.

As in Samuel Augustus Maverick, that is, who was born July 23, 1803. Maverick was a wealthy landowner as well as a lawyer and politician. The use of his name in reference to being “independently minded” can be traced to 1867. While there are a variety of accounts of how Mr. Maverick came to be associated with free thinking, a popular one is that he refused to brand his cattle. Some say it was because he was an independent sort, but others say it was due to Maverick’s complete lack of interest in running a ranch. Unbranded cattle that roamed outside of the herd eventually became known as “mavericks.”

Maverick, who died in 1870, was known not only as a free-thinking cattle rancher but also as one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence back in 1836. He also served in the Texas Legislature, supported Sam Houston in his call to support the Union, was twice elected mayor of San Antonio, and gave Maverick County its name.

At Leland’s Cabins, we tip our hat to Maverick’s independent mindedness. Our business was founded on a sense of doing things the right way rather than the easy route, and we’re not ones to follow what “the other guys” are doing. We take pride in working to create the best fit for our customers and their cabins—you won’t find cookie-cutter designs here. Stop by any of our Leland’s showrooms and talk to us about what you’re looking for. Or grab a partner, jump in the car, and head to Grandview, so you can see the largest cabin showroom in Texas for yourself.

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