Texas
 
 
 
 
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Learn before you travel. This section of Fun Easy English focuses on facts and other cool stuff about your favorite U.S. state. This is great English reading practice. This page focuses on the state of Texas.
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Texas

The Republic of Texas achieved its independence from Mexico in 1836, the same year as the famous siege of the Alamo in which pioneers Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett were slain. The "Lone Star State" was the 28th state to join the Union, admitted in 1845. The name Texas is a Spanish name, which comes from an Indian word meaning "friends" or "allies." Texas is the second-largest state in the Union in area, after Alaska. Although it has a wild, frontier history, today Texas is a major producer of oil and has important centers of industry and finance. A Texas state historian has said that the state flower, the bluebonnet, "is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland."
Flag of TexasTexas State Flag


The Texas state flag is the 1839 National flag of the Republic of Texas, which features the famous Lone Star (also seen on the Texas state seal and the U.S. mint's commemorative quarter for Texas). The red, white, and blue of the state flag of Texas represent bravery, purity and loyalty.

Six different national flags have flown over Texas representing the countries which have ruled it (France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America). Texans proudly wave all six official flags for public displays and expositions.

A rarely-mentioned seventh flag flew over the new Republic of Texas for three years, beginning in 1836. The flag had a blue field with a single gold star in the center, fashioned after the flag of the short-lived Republic of West Florida. That flag symbolized independence and was later used by the Confederate States of America as the "Bonnie Blue Flag;" the lone star remains on the official Texas flag of today (the gold star now white).
Source: State Symbols USA
 
The great seal of the state of TexasTexas State Facts

Picture: state seal of Texas
State Capital Austin
Nickname Lone Star State
Motto Friendship
Statehood December 29, 1845 (28th)
Origin of Name Based on a word used by Caddo Indians meaning "friends"
Largest Cities Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Austin
Border States Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma
Area 261,914 sq. mi.; 2nd largest
State Bird Mockingbird
State Flower Bluebonnet (lupinus)
State Tree Pecan (carya illinoensis)
State Song Texas, Our Texas
Map showing the location of TexasTravel and tourism site for Texas - This state travel and territorial tourism site provides ideas for your vacations, meetings, and more.
Texas Stories
 
Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz

The people wearing those beautiful costumes in the photo are doing a type of dance that has been done for more than a century. The dancers are part of "Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz," a traditional Mexican dance group that is active in Laredo, Texas. Many of the dancers are actually descendants of former dancers who are continuing this old tradition, which has existed for more than 100 years.

The group specializes in a type of religious dance-drama called matachine that honors the Holy Cross and the Virgin Mary -- important symbols for Catholics and other faiths. The dance begins by removing the cross from its normal resting spot in a chapel and placing it on a wheeled pedestal outdoors. A drum and an accordion start to play. Dancers wearing brightly decorated velvet skirts perform in front of the cross. They carry carrizos, six-inch sections of bamboo that make a unique musical sound as they dance. The dance is part of a traditional fiesta that includes feasting, prayer and displays of textiles and folk literary arts.
 
Texas Rose Festival: A Legacy of Roses

Have you ever heard the expressions "Smelling like a rose" and "Everything's coming up roses?" They mean that something good has happened, because roses are so beautiful and smell so good. Have you ever smelled a rose? They are fragrant, colorful flowers with thorny stems and exist in many varieties.

Texas is known for its roses. Since 1933, the Texas Rose Festival in Tyler has celebrated the beauty and scent of roses. Inspired by a new agricultural industry, civic-minded leaders and the women of the Tyler Garden Club created the Texas Rose Festival to promote the rose industry, build tourism, celebrate volunteerism, and instill community pride. The four-day festival offers a Queen's Coronation, a Rose Show, a Queen's Tea, and a Rose Parade.

After a plague wiped out the area's peach crops, rose growing in Tyler began on a small scale in the early 1900s. Rose plantings increased each year, and business boomed.

Tyler roses are famous. In 1968, Tyler "Apache Belle" roses were given to Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and they now grow in the White House Rose Garden.
 
Buccaneer Days in Corpus Christi

Every year the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, is captured by dangerous pirates!

But these pirates are actually hired by the city to help celebrate Buccaneer Days -- the opening days of the summer beach season in Corpus Christi. Buccaneers are pirates who used to sail in the Gulf and attack Spanish ships, other merchants and settlements in the area during the 1600s. Today, the Buccaneers sail in, capture the mayor and force him to walk the plank as he announces the arrival of Buccaneer Days!

Held for over 60 years, Buccaneer Days now draws more than 1.2 million people to its 24-day celebration. Fun-filled days of rodeos, races, rides, and carnival games help raise funds to finance scholarships and many other civic programs. In addition, a national orchestral music festival brings the participation of more than 6,000 children.
 
Juneteenth Celebration

Do you know what Juneteenth is?

It is the name for a holiday celebrating June 19, 1865, the day when Union soldiers arrived in Texas and spread the word that President Lincoln had delivered his Emancipation Procalamation. News traveled so slowly in those days that Texas did not hear of Lincoln's Proclamation, which he gave on January 1, 1863, until more than two years after it was issued!

The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Thus, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.

Although Juneteenth has been informally celebrated each year since 1865, it wasn't until June 3, 1979, that Texas became the first state to proclaim Emancipation Day (Juneteenth) an official state holiday. But it is much more than a holiday. Juneteenth has become a day for African Americans to celebrate their freedom, culture, and achievements. It is a day for all Americans to celebrate African American history and rejoice in their freedom.
 
Athens Fiddlers Contest and Reunion

Have you ever seen a fiddle? A fiddle is an early version of the violin -- it is a medieval European instrument with a neck, a rounded shape and three to five strings with tuning pegs on the front or back to tighten or loosen the strings. The girl in the photo is only 8 years old, but she plays the fiddle well enough to be in the Athens, Texas, Fiddlers Contest and Reunion.

The people of east Texas love a good fiddle tune. That's why so many of them gather every year for this event. The reunion is a chance for fiddling friends to catch up with each other, and the contest is a chance for fiddlers to show their stuff. Contestants range in age from 11 to well over 65. They are judged on their style and skill, and, most important, on how closely they re-create old-time fiddle music -- the music that gave courage to starving troops of soldiers at Valley Forge during the American Revolution, earned devoted admirers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and today continues to delight millions.
 
Sam Houston and the Battle for Texas Independence

"Remember the Alamo" is a well-known phrase. Do you know what it means?

Sam Houston had already served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as governor of Tennessee when he moved to Texas in 1832. At the time he arrived, Texas was part of Mexico and the site of rising tensions and violent disturbances between Mexican authorities and Anglo settlers from the United States. Voicing his support for a separate state of Texas, Houston emerged as a leader among the settlers. In 1835, he was chosen commander in chief of the Texas army.

The Alamo was an 18th century Franciscan Mission in San Antonio, Texas, which was the location of an important battle for Texans fighting for independence from Mexico. In 1836, a small group of Texans was defeated by Mexican General Santa Anna.

When Houston received word of the defeat at the Alamo, he was inspired to begin a month-long retreat to regroup and replenish the Texas army's strength. Remembering how badly the Texans had been defeated at the Alamo, on April 21, 1836, Houston's army won a quick battle against the Mexican forces at San Jacinto and gained independence for Texas. Soon after, Houston was elected president of the Republic of Texas. He continued to serve as senator and governor after Texas became part of the United States in 1845.

Sam Houston died in 1863 in Huntsville, Texas, where a 67-foot-tall memorial statue of him now stands. After a lifetime of service to his country, the event for which he is most well known is his role in the independence of Texas.
 
The History of the Salt Grass Trail Ride

You might not think that an 88-year-old woman could handle a 70-mile trail ride, but that's exactly what Atha Marks Dimon did in 1999 during the Salt Grass Trail Ride in Texas.

By going on the ride Atha was following in her father's footsteps many years earlier. In the 19th century, pioneer cattlemen herded their cattle to Houston up from the salt grass pastures on the Gulf Coast of Texas, where their cattle had been grazing and fattening up. Times change, and since 1900, cattlemen have not needed to herd their cattle across the open land; instead they use trains.

In 1952, four old-time cowmen decided to stage a re-enactment and joined a group of people on the first Salt Grass Trail Ride. One of those four cowmen was E.H. Marks. In 1999, Marks's daughter, Atha Marks Dimon (at the age of 88), her daughter Athene, her grandson Boyd Vaughan, and great-grandson Reagan Vaughan, rode the Salt Grass Trail -- 70 miles from Brenham to Houston -- in memory of the original cattlemen.

The people that have gone on the trail ride include bankers, fire fighters, even middle school students. The trail ride has caught on, and now more than 6,000 riders participate.
Source: Library of Congress
National Forests, Parks, and Monuments of Texas

The following is a description of national forests, parks, and monuments in the state of Texas. If you plan to visit or live in Texas for awhile then you should definitely plan to visit some of these fantastic places.
 
National Forests
Angelina

Primarily longleaf, loblolly, and shortleaf pine, the forest includes two wilderness areas and borders the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The forest provides habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and wintering habitat for bald eagles.
Davy Crockett

Located where the southeastern pine forests meet the blackland prairies of central Texas, Davy Crockett National Forest's Big Slough Wilderness consists primarily hardwood forest. A recreation area surrounds Ratcliff Lake, which covers 45 acres (18 ha).
Sabine

Sabine National Forest borders the western side of Toledo Bend Reservoir and has 28 mi (45 km) of trails. The forest's only wilderness area is the Indian Mounds Wilderness. Old-growth forest can be found in the wilderness and at Mill Creek Cove along the reservoir's shores.
Sam Houston

Part of the Lone Star Trail travels through Sam Houston National Forest, which borders parts of Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston. The Little Lake Creek Wilderness is the only wilderness area in the forest.
 
National Parks
Big Bend

Named for the prominent bend in the Rio Grande along the U.S.–Mexico border, this park encompasses a large and remote part of the Chihuahuan Desert. Its main attraction is backcountry recreation in the arid Chisos Mountains and in canyons along the river. A wide variety of Cretaceous and Tertiary fossils as well as cultural artifacts of Native Americans also exist within its borders.
Guadalupe Mountains

This park contains Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, as well as the scenic McKittrick Canyon filled with bigtooth maples, a corner of the arid Chihuahuan Desert, and a fossilized coral reef from the Permian era.
 
National Monuments
Alibates Flint Quarries

Alibates was the quarry site for high-quality, rainbow-hued flint that was distributed throughout the Great Plains in pre-Columbian times. It is jointly operated with the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area and includes the ruins of several Plains Village Indian dwellings.
Military Working Dog Teams

The monument, located at Lackland Air Force Base, the home of the U.S. Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program, honors the efforts and sacrifices of military working dogs in the service of the United States.
Waco Mammoth

The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a paleontological site and museum in Waco, Texas, United States where fossils of twenty-four Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) and other mammals from the Pleistocene Epoch have been uncovered. The site is the largest known concentration of a single herd of mammoths dying from the same event, which is believed to have been a flash flood. A local partnership developed around the site after the initial bone was discovered.
 
Travel America
Big Bend National Park
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening and reading practice.
This video is all about Big Bend National Park.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening and reading practice.
This video is all about Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Cool America
About the U.S.A.

About the U.S.A. is an American Studies reader that examines the customs, government, and history of the United States of America. The text provides a wealth of information on U.S. geography and history; the roles of local, state, and federal government; national holidays and symbols; the Constitution; and citizenship. The book, which was written for intermediate to advanced learners of English, contains a range of activities for language students to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing. (opens to a new PDF window) Great English reading practice.
About America

Learn about the fascinating history and government of the United States of America. Lessons include content on American Government, American History, and Integrated Civics. Handouts with interactive games and student-centered activities encompass all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Great English reading practice for beginning to intermediate students.
American Teens Talk!

Americans Teens Talk! is a collection of interviews of American high school students. Each interview is accompanied by vocabulary notes and discussion questions. The interviews in American Teens Talk! give learners a view into the lives of adolescents in the U.S. Through the written format of the interviews, learners are able to increase their vocabulary, practice their reading and listening skills, engage in discussions, and learn more about U.S. culture. These interviews come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading
Sing Out Loud Children's Songs

Sing Out Loud Children's Songs includes popular children's songs in the U.S.A. Posters accompany the individual Sing Out Loud Children's Songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs

The Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs collection contains 13 traditional American folk songs and song lyrics. Listen to the songs online, read the lyrics, and collect the posters that accompany the songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud American Rhythms

Do you love music? Want to use it to learn English? Check out the hip-hop inspired song "Peace" from Sing Out Loud American Rhythms. American Rhythms includes a variety of musical genres from many different artists in the U.S.A. These songs will appeal to teens and young adults. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Route 66 - Famous American Road

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California, near Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.
Route 66: The Highway That's the Best
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Chicago: The Start of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Going West for Decades on Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Arizona: The Spirit of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Route 66 California: The End of the Trail
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Ten Must-See Route 66 Attractions
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Four Famous Foods On Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
International Tourists Drawn to Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
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