237. Texas (Listen and Read)
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The state of Texas is famous for having the biggest and best of everything.
Before Alaska became a state, Texas was the largest American state.
It was also famous for its huge cattle ranches.
Cotton is a major crop, but much of the wealth comes from oil and gas.
People think of Texans as being wealthy because there have been lots of cattle and oil millionaires.
In the late nineteenth century, Texas cattlemen used to drive their herds north to Kansas.
There a train to the east shipped the cows.
Eventually, the railroad came to Texas and the great cattle drive stopped.
By then, many Texans owned large ranches and were quite wealthy.
In the twentieth century, oil has made many Texans wealthy.
Oil refining has led to chemical industries and synthetic products.
Most Texans now live in cities.
Many oil companies have their headquarters in Dallas.
Other large manufacturing cities are Houston, Corpus Christi,
Fort Worth and Austin, which is the Capital of Texas.
Several cities, such as San Antonio and El Paso, have a strong Spanish influence.
This dates back to the first Spanish visitors in the sixteenth century.
The old mission at San Antonio is famous as the Alamo,
where an important battle for Texas independence was fought.
Texas is a huge area with mountains, deserts, prairies, rivers and islands.
The rugged beauty of its grasslands and deserts attracts many tourists.
For a state that is mostly dry, Texas has a remarkable variety of wildflowers in the spring.
Its animals and birds differ from other parts of the U.S.A.
Texas has the armored insect eater, the Armadillo;
the swift running bird, the Roadrunner; prairie dogs, jackrabbits,
kangaroo rats, wild pigs, horned lizards, and 100 species of snakes!
As might be expected also, it has many beautiful kinds of cacti and other desert plants.
At its largest, Texas is more than 600 miles wide by 600 miles long.
Such a large area develops a distinct culture of its own.
And Texans are widely recognized by their accent and manner of speaking,
their attitudes and interests and their sense of independence and self-reliance.
Texas is also known for its beautiful women, who regularly win national beauty contests.
Its men have a reputation for being rugged,
for not talking more than they have to and for being straightforward and honest.
Although many people think of cowboys and Indians when they think of Texas, it is a center for high-tech industries.
The American space program has its headquarters in Houston, and Mission Control Center is there.
Texas is also an important manufacturer of computers and other high-tech products.
Oil production is still important in Texas, but it ranks third as a source of revenue behind manufacturing and tourism.
The colorful history of Texas and its wonderful scenery contribute to a thriving tourist industry.
Texas is also an important business and financial area.
Yes, even though times have changed,
Texans proudly maintain that their state still has the biggest and best of everything.
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