A Very Big Place

Yesterday we went for a ramble around Austin and ended up at a favorite place–a stone map of Texas inlaid into a plaza atop a small hill just across the river from the downtown area. The map gives distances between different Texas cities and Austin, which is indicated on the map by the star in the east-central part of the state. The distances show just how enormous Texas actually is.

For example, the map indicates that El Paso, at the far western edge of the Lone Star State, is 580 miles from Austin. The journey from Austin to Texarkana, at the northeastern corner of the state, is another 375 miles. Add them together and you’ve got a trip of close to 1,000 miles. That’s a lot of Texas! A further sense of the scale of this place is that the distance from Cincinnati to Cleveland, south to north, is about 250 miles. You therefore could flip all of Ohio sideways and wedge it into the 250 miles between Austin and Beaumont, just in the eastern half of Texas. Ohio ranks 35th among the states with 40,953 square miles; Texas, coming in at number 2, is six times larger, encompassing 261,914 square miles.

That’s a huge amount of territory for one state–but of course Alaska dwarfs everyone else, covering a total of 570,641 square miles. That’s bigger than Texas, California, and Montana, which rank 2, 3, and 4, combined, and 14 times the size of Ohio.

They grow states big west of the Mississippi!