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Texas is How Big?

JR is from Texas wants you to know that Texas is big. No, bigger than that.

Finally, you have something to show your out of state relatives, who ask if why you don’t visit your distant cousin in Corpus Christi more often…”I mean, how far away is it really?” Well facts are fact, that annoying aunt may actually be closer to your cousin than you are.

Texas is 790 miles long. The red on this map represents the area that is within 790 miles of Texas. That is to say, if you are within this red zone, you are closer to somewhere in Texas than other parts of Texas are…

Map-Showing-a-Texas-width-Distance-from-Texas1-685x720

Now, of course, the conclusion JR wants you to draw is a Texas-sized misdirection. Just because it’s 791 miles between the two most distant parts of Texas doesn’t mean that every place in Texas is 791 miles from every other place in Texas!

Still, the distances are indeed mind boggling. Back in 1980, my dad went ahead to his next duty station at Fort McClellan, Alabama while my mom and I stayed put in El Paso, Texas to sell our house. My dad my several trips back and forth, overnighting with friends in Greenville, Texas, just outside Dallas, each time. It was a good stopping point because the drive from El Paso to Greenville was 12 hours. And that was driving the way my dad drove in those days: several miles above the speed limit and stopping only to fill up with gas and grab a sandwich or candy bar. The rest of the drive, which included some more Texas, all of Louisiana, all of Mississippi, and most of Alabama? Another 12 hours.

JR adds:

Beaumont is closer to Tampa than El Paso.

Brownsville is closer to Mexico City than DFW.

Texarkana is closer to Atlanta than El Paso.

Corpus is closer to Cuba than Denver.

Austin is closer to New Orleans than El Paso

Downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas is longer than the Gaza Strip is long, longer than the English channel.

Dallas to Houston is nearly the same distance as Paris to London.

You might say that it’s like a whole ‘nother country.

via Laura Seay

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    One of my acquaintances in college was from Fairbanks, AK. I remember being awed at the distances involved in getting around in Alaska. From Fairbanks to Juneau is 600 miles as the crow flies, but the only way to drive between the two is to cross the border into the Yukon. It’s well over 900 miles of driving.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Yeah, huh?
    When I lived in Dallas it took me a while to get my head around just how big that state really is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. James Pearce says:

    This is why it breaks my heart to hear Texas spoke of as this monolithic, drooling, backwards backwater.

    No, Texas is huge. And it’s awesome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  4. J-Dib says:

    Texas is very large and apparently full of asparagus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  5. Raoul says:

    If you overlay Alaska on the contiguous United States, it would go from California to Florida.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. Moosebreath says:

    @Raoul:

    When I visited Alaska in the early 90’s, there was a movement to divide the state into two equal halves, to make Texas the third largest state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. Grewgills says:

    My main memory of Texas is driving across it on my way from Alabama to California. I managed to go from Dallas to Phoenix in one brutal 18 hr drive and saw more “Don’t pick up hitchhikers prison nearby” signs than at any other time in my life before or after.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    I was just in Texas about 3 weeks ago to visit my sister and brother. The state is changing, Houston is now blue with an openly gay female mayor. Dallas is also blue. When I was there we went to Galveston so I could see the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. The following day we drove up to the “hill country” and although I really didn’t see anything that I would consider a hill the wild flowers were beautiful. The once gorgeous pine forests were burnt a couple of years ago witch was disappointing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. Gromitt Gunn says:

    A few years ago, when I lived in San Antonio, a friend was thinking about moving from New Jersey to El Paso, and asked me what Texas was like. I told him that I could describe what life in South Central and Central Texas was like in great detail, but I couldn’t really tell him anything about El Paso. For some reason he thought I was just blowing him off, and took it very personally.

    In response to that, I asked him “Oh, you live in New Jersey? I’m thinking about moving to Portland, Maine. What’s it like?” He still didn’t really get what I was saying.

    Fast forward 6 months after he’s living in El Paso. I get an email from him apologizing for his earlier reaction. After being here for six months himself, he finally understood what I meant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  10. James Pearce says:

    What Oklahoman downvoted “Texas is awesome?” Sheesh……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Often overlooked in this category: Michigan.

    That state is just shy of 500 miles, furthest to furthest points.

    (… and worst yet, the darned Yoopers decided to set the speed limit to 55 up there!)

    Still, having driven well over it, I would gladly take it over Texas. Any day of the week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  12. John H says:

    Texas is awesome, and only 40% smaller than Ontario.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  13. DrDaveT says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Often overlooked in this category: Michigan.

    Yup. My in-laws have a summer place north of Frankfort. I live in Virginia. The halfway point of the drive is the Michigan border — and they aren’t even all the way up the mitten, much less on the UP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Alex says:

    Meh. I live in Ontario, which is almost half again as big as Texas. There are eight US states that adjoin the Great Lakes; but there’s only one Canadian province that spans across all of them, and that province is Ontario.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Greg says:

    Originally from Atlanta and now in Texas for several years…
    I am in East Texas about 2.5 hours from any major city (Dallas, Houston, Shreveport)(3hrs or so to Austin), so I totally get the point of the article (Texas is huge), but really wouldn’t want it any other way. We have pines, hardwoods, and yes, hills. Oh, and speed limits at 70mph+.
    I telecommute so its not a real problem for me, and when I have to travel I can catch a small jump to Dallas or Houston from Tyler.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. James Joyner says:

    @John H: @Alex: Well… okay. Canada has 10 states to our 50 despite being slightly larger. Texas, our second smallest state by population, has 2/3 the residents as the entire country of Canada.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Andre Kenji says:

    That´s where the comparison is:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_largest_country_subdivisions_by_area

    Hmmm… I did not know that Alaska was bigger than Amazonas state and the Xinjiang. There are three Brazilian states that are larger than Texas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Boyd says:

    @James Pearce:

    What Oklahoman downvoted “Texas is awesome?” Sheesh……

    I don’t know, but I’m sure no Texas judge would look askance at the defense of “he needed killin'” in that case, even if we did have to go drag his sorry behind into the state first.

    Stinkin’ land thieves…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Just Me says:

    I live in NH where my home in the central area is about an hour from anywhere else in NH. I can get to just about any other state in New England in about 2 hours as long as it isn’t Thode Island and I’m driving during rush hour.

    Texas is big.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. John H says:

    @James Joyner:

    Sure, but we are 123% nicer per capita.

    Just making a dig at getting excited about “big”, which is something that happens a lot up here too. When a state or province gets to these sizes, it’s usually just an administrative or historical accident that the people within it are grouped together. I’m pretty sure the people in Austin (on average) think of being Texan differently than the people in Lubbock – based on what I’ve heard about those two places. So what exactly are we celebrating when we call one of these conglomerations awesome?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. pylon says:

    I am also a Canadian and, no, I don’t know where John H’s house is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  22. grumpy realist says:

    I’ve never seen why largeness in and of itself should be considered an indication of greatness. My major impressions of Texas have been the following: very pedestrian-unfriendly, a belligerent chip on its shoulder about how it is viewed by the rest of the country, the incessant need for air conditioning most of the year no matter where you go, and a whole lot of dead grass.

    But then again, YMMV.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. JKB says:

    I drove across Hwy 10 once. Texas about killed me. By the time I got to New Orleans, I couldn’t continue my master plan to go all the way to Jacksonville and instead turned north toward my final destination. On the second day across Texas, I tried to stop in San Antonio to see the sights but no hotels near downtown. I decided to drive on, about an hour later I stopped in the western reaches of Houston.

    There is/was a website, Mapfrappe, that lets you outline a place then overlay it on other parts of the world. I did this with Israel just to get a feel for the size. Israel fits nicely inside eastern Alabama, or from Portland to the Canadian border. Tiny in width and not such a long drive end to end.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Matt says:

    Living in Texas has been unique…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0