How Well Do You Know the Small Towns of Texas?

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By: Bambi Turner

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Billy Hathorn

About This Quiz

You don't have to be an expert on the Lone Star State to know that the big cities in Texas get all the attention.  Guidebooks are filled with info about San Antonio's Riverwalk, Houston's Space Center and massive museums, the incredible Texas State Fair up in Dallas or the weird and wonderful Austin. But this second-largest U.S. state has so much more to offer than the attractions found in its major metro areas. In fact, Texas is home to more than 100 small towns that might not look like much more than a dot on the map, but manage to pack in plenty of fun, history and culture. 

Did you know that many small Texas towns have incredibly well-preserved historic districts, complete with classic Main Streets and storefronts that would fit right into any cowboy movie? Others serve as gateways to surprising natural wonders, from a gorge rivaled only by the Grand Canyon to preserves that let you walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs. You'll also find plenty of historical sites, arts and cuisine inspired by immigrants, as well as all the rodeos, boots and spurs you can stand!

Think you're an expert on these towns that line Texas highways, byways and old dirt roads? Prove your small town IQ with this quiz!

Marfa isn't much more than a map dot, but folks have flocked here for over a century. What are they coming to see down here in southwest Texas?

Located off the beaten path down in the far western portion of the state, Marfa would be easy to overlook if not for a series of mysterious lights. The famous Marfa lights appear out of nowhere in the desert and have been doing so since at least the 1880s. The flowing orbs are so popular that there's even a dedicated viewing area off Highway 67. While you're in town, check out the area's many galleries, plus an installation called Marfa Prada which resembles a luxe boutique.

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For more than a century, Dublin, Texas, in Erath County, was known as one of the few U.S. sources for this product. What is it?

Nicknamed "the Irish capital of Texas," the city of Dublin's claim to fame was long its Dublin Bottling Works, which was one of only a handful of U.S. companies allowed to brew Dr. Pepper with real sugar. After it stopped producing this product in 2012, the town began touting its Ben Hogan Museum, a location dedicated to the life and career of one of golf's biggest names.

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Consider yourself a shopaholic? Don't miss this Texas town, which is known for its mega-sized antiques fair.

Located just 70 miles outside Austin, the tiny town of Round Top hosted an antique swap in 1968. It was such a success that the event was repeated every year since, and it's now held in both spring and fall. During the Round Top Antiques Fair, hundreds of thousands of shoppers flood this town of 90 residents seeking bargains.

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Want to see the roadside stop known as Cadillac Ranch? It's located just to the west of this town in the Texas panhandle.

Since 1974, visitors to Amarillo have made the detour to Cadillac Ranch. This roadside attraction consists of 10 Cadillac cars sunk nose deep in the dirt and painted in wild color schemes. Amarillo is sometimes called Bomb City because it's home to one of the only facilities in the U.S. designed for nuclear bomb assembly.

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If you want to buy these, head for Archer City in northern Texas, which is famous for a Main Street store started by screenwriter Larry McMurty.

You may recognize the name Larry McMurty as the writer of the book that became "Lonesome Dove," and as the scriptwriter on "Brokeback Mountain." What you might not know is that he hails from Archer City, where he opened a used bookstore called Booked Up in the '80s. He went on to open other venues with hundreds of thousands of tomes before closing them all to focus on his original Archer City Main Street store in 2013.

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What Texas town is home to the Texas White House, and also happens to be the hometown of the 36th U.S. President?

Born in Johnson City, Texas, Lyndon Johnson spent so much time at his ranch in this tiny Texas town that many called it the Texas White House. Today, Johnson City is home to the LBJ Historical Park, which includes the former Commander in Chief's ranch as well as his final resting place.

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Think you know your Texas towns? Tell us the main export of Shiner down in the southeastern part of the state.

Shiner, Texas only has one stoplight and 2,000 residents, but it's also home to the famous Spoetzl Brewery. It's been making beer for more than a century, and its famous Shiner Bock is sold in 48 states.

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Heavily influenced by the culture of its German founders, which Texas town is also the birthplace of Navy legend Chester Nimitz?

Named in honor of Prince Frederick of Prussia, Fredericksburg, Texas still offers plenty of European charm with a Texas touch. Home to a well-preserved historic district offering restaurants and bakeries with German-influenced food, it's also the hometown of Chester Nimitz, who served as Admiral of the Navy in the Pacific during WWII.

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Which of these ranks among the not-to-be-missed attractions on a visit to Schulenburg down in Texas Hill Country?

Many Hill Country towns in central Texas were settled by European immigrants in the 19th century, and Schulenburg is no exception. It is famous for its painted churches, which are fairly standard on the outside, but full of vibrant paint schemes and frescoes on the interior. The town is also home to a model aircraft museum and a museum dedicated to polka music.

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The town of New Braunfels near San Antonio is known as home to Schlitterbahn, which is a ...

Opened in 1979 in New Braunfels, Schlitterbahn is a massive water park known for its sweet slides, long lazy rivers and endless ways to keep guests cool when the sun is at its worst. The name means "slippery road" in German.

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Know the name of the infamous ghost town near Big Bend that was once a quicksilver mining hub, but now hosts an annual chili cookoff?

Terlingua peaked around 1900 as a quicksilver mining town. By the mid-20th century, this tiny town along the Rio Grande was largely deserted. Folks eventually began to return, with art galleries popping up over the years and tourists heading into town for a chili cookoff held annually since the 1960s.

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Charro Days is a major festival down in southern Texas. Which town plays host to the crowds for this event?

The first festival celebrating cooperation between the towns of Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas took place back in the 1800s. Since 1938, Brownsville has held an official annual festival known as Charro Days to celebrate this relationship.

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Can you name the Texas town — population three — that shot to fame thanks to a 1977 Waylon Jennings song?

Luckenbach, Texas was a town with only a handful of residents in 1977, when it became the subject of Waylon Jennings' tune "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)." The success of the song transformed the town into a gathering spot for fans of outlaw country, and Luckenbach later hosted shows by Willie Nelson, Jennings and other singing stars.

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This town calls itself "The Gateway City" because of its four major bridges to Mexico. Can you name it?

Situated way down south on the Mexican border, Laredo has four international bridges and serves as a major transportation hub between the U.S. and its southern neighbor. This town is known for its month-long celebration of Washington's birthday each January, as well as the Mardi Gras-like Jamboozie fest.

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Across the border from Shreveport, Louisiana, you'll find the only natural lake in Texas in this small town.

Jefferson sits in east Texas near the Louisiana border. It's home to Caddo Lake, which is the only natural lake in the state. Jefferson also maintains a well-preserved historic downtown area as well as the private rail car of railroad baron Jay Gould.

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What happens on "First Mondays" in Canton, Texas — a town located 60 miles east of Dallas?

Canton, Texas, in the northeastern part of the state has been hosting an event known as First Monday Trade Days for more than a century. In the days leading up to the first Monday of each month, the town is the site of one of the largest flea markets in the world, with hundreds of thousands of shoppers heading for Canton to snap up bargains.

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What structure serves as a focal point in Port Isabel and lends its name to the town square?

Positioned on the Gulf Coast and connected to South Padre Island via a causeway, Port Isabel is known for its iconic lighthouse. Measuring 70 feet tall and built in 1852, the structure lends its name to community hub Lighthouse Square.

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A popular wedding destination in the Hill Country, which town is home to the Hamilton Pool grotto?

Just 25 miles west of Austin, the tiny town of Dripping Springs has one incredible natural wonder; it's home to Hamilton Pool, a partially enclosed grotto with a waterfall that's perfect for a refreshing swim. Dripping Springs is also the unofficial Wedding Capital of Texas Hill Country thanks to its surprisingly large number of wedding venues.

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What's the main attraction that draws people to Wimberly in central Texas?

Wimberly is the site of one of the best outdoor attractions in Texas. A natural area called Jacob's Well looks like a 12-foot diameter swimming pool formed by Mother Nature, but is actually the mouth of a spring that descends hundreds of feet underground. Only trained cave divers should venture below the surface, but almost anyone can swim on the surface of these cool waters.

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Jesse James probably isn't buried here, but Liz Crockett is! Where can you pay respect to the wife of frontiersman Davy Crockett?

The cemetery in the town of Granbury in northern Texas is home to a grave with the name Jesse James. If the outlaw's bones are buried under that slab, he lived to the ripe age of 103 before passing of natural causes in 1951. While it's most likely someone else in that grave, there's little debate that Mrs. Davy Crockett was laid to rest in this tiny Texas town back in 1860.

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The Colorado River — no, not that one — passes through Marble Falls in central Texas. Know this town's festival claim to fame?

Marble Falls is a haven for lake lovers, as evidenced by its annual August LakeFest, which includes a series of drag boat races that have been held in the area since the '70s. This southern town also has one other claim to fame that may surprise you; a female mayor was elected to run things ... back in 1917!

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This town was abandoned in the 1950s, but its restored Victorian structures are now a major attraction within the town of New Braunfels. Can you name it?

Founded in southeast Texas in the 1840s, Gruene was largely abandoned a century later. By the '70s, people were rediscovering its beautifully preserved historic structures, resulting in Gruene being annexed into New Braunfels. If you're ever in the area, check out the Gruene Dance Hall, which dates back to 1878.

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Legend has it that pirate treasure is buried near the only town on Mustang Island. If you want to search for it, you'll have to guess the town's name first!

Situated in the Gulf of Mexico on Mustang Island, the southeastern Texas town of Port Aransas was a pirate haven in the early 19th century. If you can't track down the treasure many believe is buried here, you could always indulge in tourism activities like bird watching or fishing.

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Can you ID the town that serves as the gateway to Palo Duro as well as the home to an iconic roadside cowboy named Tex Randall?

For such a small town, Canyon has a lot to offer locals and visitors alike. It's home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, which is the largest history museum in Texas, and also provides easy access to Palo Duro Canyon, which is the largest gorge in the U.S. after the Grand Canyon.

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If you can't make it to eastern Europe, which town located an hour south of Dallas offers up the most loved kolcahes in the state?

Some call this place West Comma Texas so you know they mean the town and not just the entire western portion of the state. Founded in the 1880s by Czech immigrants, West still offers bakeries and restaurants with Czech cuisine. The town's kolaches, dough stuffed with sweet or savory fillings, are some of the best you'll find outside Europe.

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It sounds like it belongs in Switzerland, but what tiny southwest Texas town is nicknamed "The Heart of Big Bend?"

Yes, there are some mighty big hills in Texas. Take the town of Alpine, for instance, which is located next to Big Bend National Park and has peaks that rise a mile above sea level. Alpine is also home to a unique tradition in the form of the annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering that's held each February.

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A sign at the border of this western Texas town proclaims it as the home of the world's first rodeo. What is its name?

Out near the New Mexico border you'll find the tiny town of Pecos, Texas. Long known as a producer of sweet cantaloupes, Pecos also claims to have hosted the first rodeo on the planet back in the 19th century.

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Today it's known for its blueberry festivals, but in 1912 a runaway mule in this East Texas town turned the Marx Brothers on to comedy.

One of the oldest towns in Texas, Nacogdoches plays host to the popular Texas Blueberry Festival each June. It was also in this town that a runaway mule interrupted a show by the Marx Brothers singing troupe in 1912. After the interruption, the brother we now call Groucho began telling jokes. The audience loved the switch to comedy and the rest is history.

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A 13-mile driving loop draws visitors to this Gillespie County town in Texas Hill Country to view fields of bluebonnets each spring.

Folks come from all over the state to drive the Willow City loop in March and April each year. This area is known for its endless fields full of bluebonnets, the official state flower of Texas.

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Which town should you visit to tube on the Medina River or tour the Frontier Times Museum?

The town of Bandera lies less than an hour northwest of San Antonio. It's in this town that calls itself the "Cowboy Capital of the World" that you can ride a tube down the Medina River or visit the Frontier Times Museum to see what life looked like out on the range.

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Do you know which of these towns sits along Highway 290 between Houston and Austin?

Established in 1849, the town of Chappell Hill sits midway between the much bigger cities of Austin and Houston. It's worth a visit any time thanks to its Main Street Historic District, but the most popular event each year is the town's Spring Bluebonnet Festival.

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Just north of Abilene near the Oklahoma border, you'll find the town of Seymour, Texas. Which of these is its claim to fame?

The northern Texas town of Seymour was founded by settlers from Oregon in the 1800s and dubbed Oregon City. Today, paleontologists and archaeologists flock to the town for its rich fossil deposits, including those of dinosaurs and their relatives.

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Founded in the 1830s, Liberty, Texas has its own replica of a U.S. landmark. Can you name it?

The town of Liberty on the Trinity River northeast of Houston is home to a twin of the Liberty Bell found in Philadelphia. Liberty also has a full-size replica of the Texas Governors Mansion as well as the beloved Opry on the Square, a historic music venue on Main Street.

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Gonzales, Texas was one of the first towns to see battle during the Texas Revolution. What is this town's famous rallying cry?

Sometimes called the "Lexington of Texas" because just as Lexington, Massachusetts saw the first violence in the American Revolution, Gonzales was the site of an early skirmish during the Texas Revolution. The 1835 event gave the town the rallying cry "Come and take it!" which was uttered by townspeople fighting off enemy soldiers.

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Generals Custer and Lee both have a tie to the town of Salado. What did they both do in this central Texas town?

The Stagecoach Inn located in Central, Texas claims to be the oldest continuously operated hotel in the state. Opened in 1861, this Salado inn hosted both General Lee and General Custer, not to mention infamous outlaw Jesse James and state founding father Sam Houston.

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