States of Emergency
The federal government has declared nearly 2,000 major disasters in the 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1953 and April 2013. One-third of that total was concentrated in only 10 states—and Texas tops the chart. Numbers of declared disasters in the past 60 years:
86, Texas: At least one major disaster declared nearly every calendar year—seemingly endless severe storms and flooding, wildfires, and federal emergencies: the 2003 loss of the space shuttle Columbia and the fertilizer plant explosion in West.
78, California: Earthquakes, plus wildfires, landslides, flooding, winter storms, severe freezes and tsunamis.
73, Oklahoma: Tornadoes, severe winter storms, wildfires and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
67, New York: 9/11, blizzards and Hurricane Sandy (2012).
65, Florida: Tropical storms and hard freezes.
60, Louisiana: Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Camille (1969).
57, Alabama: Hurricanes and tornadoes.
56, Kentucky: Landslides, mudslides and rockslides among the threats.
54, Arkansas: There is no safe season here, with severe snow and ice storms in winter; tornadoes during the spring, summer and fall; and flooding any time.
53, Missouri: Same here.
A Fair Run in Gillespie
In its 125 years, the Gillespie County Fair survived both world wars, moved four times, raced three elephants, crowned 63 queens and hosted 22 years of pari-mutuel horse racing.
The Gillespie County Fair & Festival Association—founded in 1881 and host of the longest consecutive running fair in Texas—has grown from a tin-and-honeysuckle-covered concession area and horse track on the grounds of an abandoned fort to full-grown fairgrounds with an exhibition hall and Biergarten at 530 Fair Drive in Fredericksburg.
The 125th anniversary celebration August 22–25 features all the fair favorites plus the running of 12 racehorses from Texas and surrounding states on the association’s 5/8-mile oval track—the only licensed, Class III pari-mutuel racetrack in the state since 1991. The owner of the fastest horse wins the “purse,” a prize historically totaling about $100,000.
For more info: (830) 997-2359, gillespiefair.com
Coming in October: Speaking of horse racing—the long-gone residents of Morris Ranch southwest of Fredericksburg bred and trained thoroughbred racehorses to run in New York and Louisiana in the 1880s. We explore this former community in our feature on Texas ghost towns.
By the Numbers
Texas has more counties—254—than any other state. Forty of those counties are larger than Rhode Island, which ri.gov says comprises 1,214 square miles. Texas’ largest, Brewster County, which covers much of Big Bend National Park, contains 6,183.7 square miles, making it larger than Delaware and Connecticut, too.