Thursday, May 8

a few fun facts about North Texas

Arlington’s Top O’ the Hill Terrace was the largest gambling mecca in the country when Las Vegas was still barren desert. it was frequented by John Wayne, Clark Gable and Bonnie and Clyde. it is now a Baptist college, and open for tours.
the Hollywood sign in California was modeled after the Welcome sign that is still standing on Welcome Mountain in Mineral Wells. when D.W. Griffith, a famed film producer and director saw it, he loved it and copied it. the California project ran out of money before completion- to this day the sign says “Hollywood,” and not “Hollywood Land.”

Frisco bought and used a prefab jail cell for years that was formerly owned by Willie Nelson.

Grand Prairie has a heart-shaped tub for newlyweds in the Holiday Inn Express.

Plano hosts the largest Balloon Festival in Texas the third weekend in September and has been named the Hot Air Balloon Capital of Texas.

the Brazos Drive-In theater in Granbury is one of only ten left in Texas and recently achieved permanent landmark status.

Carrollton is home to North America’s tallest indoor climbing gym, Stoneworks Rock Climbing Gym. (there used to be a large mural on the outside of the silos, advertising Robert Tilton)

the city of Dallas began as a trading post with John Neely Bryan in the 1830’s on the banks of the Trinity River. shopping, not the fabled wild west, is the true history of Dallas is still a favorite pastime for tourists.

the largest collection of Norman Rockwell’s original Scouting-related works is in Irving at the National Boy Scout Museum.

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington is rumored to have the ghost of a little girl named Annie roaming the park, usually seen in the section known as ‘Texas’. she peers from a second story window and often plays pranks on staff.

Bonnie Parker is buried at Crown Hill cemetery in Oak Cliff, and Clyde is buried at Western Heights Cemetery, off Fort Worth Avenue in Dallas.

both ballpark nachos and the internationally-famous “Dot Race” were born at Arlington Stadium. both are now baseball staples everywhere.

it was from the Statler Suite in The Adolphus Hotel that Tina Turner left Ike for good. as he slept, Tina sneaked down the back stairs with 36 cents in her pocket. after finding a Ramada Inn nearby, she told the manager who she was, and what happened. she needed a room but had no money. she later wrote, “Out of the goodness of that man’s heart—I mean this was Texas, you know?—he said ‘All right.’”

Texas Christian University in Fort Worth has an entire museum devoted to meteorites. its opening day fell on February 1, 2003, the same day the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas.

legend has it that Grand Prairie was so named after a famous actress stepped of the train and exclaimed “My, what a grand prairie!”

the original jailhouse in Dallas still exists in the West End, although now it houses a law firm. the jail bars that formerly held notorious prisoners such as Bonnie and Clyde are now part of the exterior fence.

the stone carvings of the Waxahachie courthouse is said to be the story of a sculptor who fell in love with a local girl. when she didn’t return his affections, he became so angry that the faces grew more and more ugly. the timeline of the dwindling love affair is portrayed as one walks around the courthouse.

after their last job at Winnemucca, Nevada, in 1900, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and their Wild Bunch headed for Fort Worth, where they lingered long enough to buy some fancy duds and have their picture taken at John Swartz's photo studio in 1901. according to one story, they sent a copy to the bank in Winnemucca, a bit of cheekiness that got the Pinkertons on their trail.

Arlington is named after Robert E. Lee’s famous plantation; the city was previously known as Johnson Station.

it is often theorized that the city of Irving was named after Washington Irving, but no one knows for sure.

in 1925, Conrad Hilton built his second hotel in Dallas. it’s now one of the largest hotel chains in the world.

there are over 113 bonded wineries in Texas and more than 1.5 million gallons were bottled in 2007. Grapevine boasts eight of those wineries, and hosts wine trail events during the harvest.

sixty percent of America’s paper money is printed at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth (tours are available).

the DFW area is the #1 tourist destination in Texas, more visited than San Antonio, Austin or Houston.

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