Do You Know Texas Outside of the Big Cities?


By: Elisabeth Henderson

6 Min Quiz

Image: Carol M. Highsmith - Library of Congress via WikiCommons

About This Quiz

Some folks may imagine that Texas means live music in Austin, city-dwelling in Dallas, urban life in Houston or even mariachi in El Paso. But most of the great state of Texas is composed not of skyscrapers and sprawl, but of down-home, small-town living. The rural towns that dot the Texan landscape together form the heart of Texas that country singers have sung about for many years. 

If you have lived in Texas for your whole life, but haven’t spent ample time getting to know the culture and people of its small towns, then you haven’t really experienced true Texas. It’s the small-town life — the hardworking, close-knit community, historically connected, farm- and ranch-centric life that Texans hearken back to when they talk about Texas pride and purchase Texas-shaped salsa bowls. 

Don’t know what we’re talking about? Then drive your truck on down to Fredericksburg and sample the local peaches and stop in a Biergarten to purchase wiener schnitzel from a German-Texan local. Stroll through Shiner and sip the beer that built the town. Amble through the streets of Marfa and witness the commingling of ranching and art culture. How well do you know the streets of small-town Texas? Try your luck on this quiz to find out! 

What dialect is spoken by some locals in Fredericksburg, Texas?

German settlers founded Fredericksburg, Texas in 1846, and the town retains its distinct German flavor to this day. The original settlers refused to learn English and continued speaking German to each other. Eventually, a mixed language of English and German began to form in the region, Texas German.


What heritage is distinctly palpable in West, Texas?

West, Texas, between Austin and Dallas, is a bulwark of a Czech community off I-35. In this small town, the Czech Stop famously serves up kolaches, a Czech-Texan standby for breakfast, often featuring some version of a sausage in a semi-sweet bun.


What fruit is Pecos most famous for growing a perfect example of?

Pecos, Texas, way out west, has long been renowned for the quality and juicy, orange flesh of their cantaloupes. In recent years, however, the cantaloupe industry is in sharp decline as a result of the booming oil industry in the area.


Which Texas town claims that the outlaw Jesse James lies buried in its turf and not in Missouri?

While historians believe that Jesse James was shot and killed in 1802 and buried in Missouri, local legends in Granbury hold that another member of James’s gang was shot instead and that James himself returned to Granbury to be with his grandson.


Which of the following activities would you do with a troop of friends at Blue Hole?

At Blue Hole, in Wimberley, Texas, you can dive into the crystal-clear, sparkling blue waters for a refreshing swim in the Texas heat. The waters in Blue Hole are fed by a natural spring, and the limestone surface helps keep the water clear.


Why was Jefferson, TX such a bustling town in the 19th century?

In the 19th century, when a large amount of trade was conducted over rivers, the river port in Jefferson provided an important connection between Texas and the rest of the south. Located in Far East Texas, just a four-day trip from New Orleans, Jefferson was the leading distribution point in the region.


How did Marathon, Texas receive its name?

The founder of Marathon, Texas, former sea captain Albion E. Shepard, thought the wide-open plains of desert looked like the landscape he had seen in Marathon, Greece. So, he stamped the Greek name on the Texas setting. Now, there is a marathon in Marathon.


Which of these beach towns has earned the designation of the first Blue Wave Beach in Texas?

Rockport Beach, on the Gulf Coast of Texas, earned the title of being the first Blue Wave Beach in Texas. The Clean Wave Coalition awards this title to communities whose beaches are healthy for the community and the environment.


Blue Bell ice cream is an iconic Texas creamery that most Texans are addicted to. Which small town boasts being its home?

Named after the bluebell wildflower, a group of businessmen started the Blue Bell creamery, making butter from leftover cream gathered from nearby dairy farms. The ice cream production began a few years later.


Which Pulitzer-prize winning author hails from Archer City?

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry hails from Archer City, Texas. The author wrote the famed “Lonesome Dove,” a western novel, which was later made into a TV mini-series with Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall.


To which town would you make a road trip to visit Spoetzl Brewery?

Shiner, Texas, houses the Spoetzl Brewery, which makes Shiner Beer, and calls itself the “town that beer built.” Spoetzl Brewery first began brewing in 1909, out of an old tin shed. These days the state of the art brewery produces upward of 600,000 barrels of beer a year.


Which direction should you point your car to get to McAllen, Texas?

McAllen stands at one of the southernmost points of Texas, right on the southern border with Texas. With its International Museum of Art and Science and a Spanish revival mansion, the city makes an excellent cultural destination.


Why do young people seem to gather at Bryan, Texas?

Bryan houses the excellent research institution and university, Texas A&M. Texas A&M serves over 53,000 undergraduate students and prides itself on its agricultural roots and its tense rivalry with UT Austin.


What might you find if you dig around Seymour, Texas?

A world-famous fossil was unearthed in Seymour, Texas: the Dimetrodon, meaning “two measured teeth.” The animal actually was not a dinosaur, but an ancient relative of mammals. The naturalist Edward Cope gave it its name in 1878.


What should you do in a small town in Texas if a stranger waves at you?

In small-town Texas, people are typically very polite, almost to a fault, and even to people they have never seen before. People often will wave at strangers on the street or even in cars passing by. In these situations, it’s customary to wave back in order to not be a jerk.


What percentage of Texans today live in the country, outside the big city?

While the rural, country life seems to embody the Texas spirit, a mere 15% of Texans actually live out in the country. The vast majority have been drawn to the job opportunities and conveniences of city life.


Where does the last remaining log courthouse in the state of Texas stand?

The last standing log courthouse in Texas, named “Old Cora,” remains in Comanche. The town prides itself on its historical wealth, drawing attention to legends such as when John Wesley Hardin shot a sheriff at a town saloon.


If you’re in a small town, feeling hungry and find a BBQ joint with no line, what should you do?

If you come across a BBQ joint in a small town with no line, it’s best to keep driving. It’s common knowledge in Texas that good BBQ = waiting in line for it. That’s because all the locals know where the best smoked meat is served, and they all congregate to wait for it. No line means you'll get some mediocre BBQ real fast.


Which attraction can you visit in Sonora, Texas?

When traveling through Sonora, the Caverns of Sonora are a must-see. The local reputation holds that the caverns delight more than any cave in Texas. It takes a full hour and forty-five minutes to tour the “crystal palace.”


Which destination might you visit if you were staying in Uncertain, Texas?

Uncertain, Texas, population 93, is not a big hot spot tourist destination. It is, though, situated on the dramatic shores of Caddo Lake, where pines and bald cypress trees tower over a complex ecosystem, brimming with waterfowl, turtles and gators.


If you wanted to drive across the full length of Big Bend National Park, how long would you expect it to take?

Big Bend National Park, situated at the bend in the Rio Grande bordering Mexico and West Texas, takes about 1.5 hours to drive across if you stay on the two-lane highway. At over 801,000 acres, Big Bend is the 15th largest national park.


If a cashier in a small Texas town tells you to “Have a blessed day,” what’s the proper small town response?

Small-town Texans regularly speak about being blessed, blessing each other and asking God’s blessing on various aspects of life throughout the day. To those who enter this realm from outside the Bible Belt, this language may seem archaic and strange. The proper response is reciprocation: God bless you, too.


Which small Texas town provided the backdrop for the picturesque movie “Hope Floats”?

The movie “Hope Floats,” starring Sandra Bullock, brought notoriety to Smithville, Texas, for being the perfect, picturesque small Texas town. The town, east of Austin, now hosts a few Austin transplants, including an eclectic handbag maker, Consuela’s, and a barbecue market storefront, Mickelthwait’s.


Which town boasts being the highest town in Texas?

Ft. Davis, situated in the striking Davis Mountains, stands at 5,050 ft, making it the highest elevation of any town in Texas. The quiet little hamlet began as a fort during the turbulent frontier days.


Which town stands at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Gulf of Mexico?

Palacios, on Matagorda Bay, dwells right at the spot where the Colorado River flows into the Gulf of Mexico, creating a delicate and complex ecosystem. Groups such as the Matagorda Bay Foundation care for the ecosystem and educate the public about its intricacy.


Which of the following is a nickname for Blanco, Texas?

Blanco calls itself the “The Lavender Capital of Texas.” In Blanco, you can tour the Hill Country Lavender Farm or attend the aromatic Lavender Festival in June. The spring-fed Blanco River winds through the center of town and provides a refreshing escape from the Central Texas heat.


What is the Chinati Foundation?

The Chinati Foundation spreads out in the desert landscape outside Marfa, TexA. The contemporary art museum seeks to stay true to the vision of its founder, Donald Judd, an artist who created large-scale installations in direct communication with the landscape around them.


If you want to take the Amtrak to Big Bend, which town will you arrive in?

Alpine acts as the rail hub for Big Bend National Park. The largest city in the region, at 6,054 inhabitants, the town feels like a big city out in the wide-open desert spaces. Alpine is also known for having a hopping nightlife, music scene and vibrant murals lining the city streets.


Which Texas town was part of Stephen F. Austin’s original colony?

Chappell Hill attracted settlers from the Old South in the 1840s, as its landscape along the Brazos River provided a perfect setting for establishing farmland. Stephen F. Austin established his original colony in this region.


Which of the following attractions puts Fredericksburg, Texas on the map?

The cozy, German town of Fredericksburg draws tourists from around the world to sample its peaches, stroll through the wildflowers at the magnificent Wildseed Farms and crawl up on the enormous granite pluton, Enchanted Rock.


Where does Bob Wills, the King of Swing, hail from?

Turkey may only have a population of 384, but it gave birth to one of the most important swing musicians of all time, Bob Wills. Turkey lies on the Caprock Escarpment, where visitors can stay in the historic Hotel Turkey and listen to the swing music that makes the town famous.


What transportation line ends in Palestine, Texas?

Palestine provides the Western hub for the Texas State Railroad, the official railroad of Texas. Prisoners laid the first tracks of the railroad in 1881, and it was completed in 1909. Today, visitors can take a four-hour journey through the Piney Woods region of Texas on this historic train.


Which springs made Ft. Stockton a viable site for a military fort in the mid-nineteenth century?

Comanche Springs, a vital source of water for Native Americans in the dry landscape, drew Army Capt. William Henry Chase Whiting to set up a post in the area, where the troops could have plenty of water. Camp Stockton eventually grew into Ft. Stockton and became an important city between El Paso and San Antonio.


Which Panhandle town was put on the map by the Hilmar Cheese Company?

The Hilmar Cheese Company launched the growth and prosperity of the panhandle town, Dalhart. Twelve dairy families from California founded the company in 1984 with the production of their high-quality Jersey cows.


What made Luckenbach, Texas, such an iconic Texas landmark?

“Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas, with Waylon and Willie and the boys,” sings the refrain of the song Waylon Jennings made popular, “Luckenbach, TX.” The song heralds the simple life available in small-town Texas, as opposed to overly complicated, high-society life.


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