We're thrilled to welcome a special guest blogger, the author of Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It. He'll be sharing tales from his book with us this week. Put your hands together for Mike Trinklein!
In the early twentieth century, everyone was falling in love with the automobile. The new-fangled machines were fun, useful, and increasingly affordable. But cars need good roads, and in pre"“World War II America, the roads were awful. People in rural places such as northern Texas and western Oklahoma were especially desperate for decent roads, but politicians in the faraway state capitals weren't listening.
And so the Texlahoma proposal was created.
As designed by Oklahoman A. P. Sights, forty-six counties in Texas and twenty-three in Oklahoma would join to form Texlahoma. Legislators of the new state could focus on building better roadways—and all the other services that these "forgotten" counties believed they weren't getting.
The proposal did get some traction. Sights claimed that two-thirds of the politicians he polled favored the idea. The New York Times, although skeptical, covered the plan in significant detail. In addition, the Vice President at the time, John Nance Garner IV, was a big supporter of carving Texas into new states. A Texan himself, Garner probably just wanted more Senate representation for his home state.
Then again, Garner did have a penchant for unusual causes. He zealously championed naming the prickly pear cactus as the Texas state flower. He lost that vote (to the bluebonnet) and was thereafter dubbed "Cactus Jack," which has to be the coolest nickname of any U.S. vice president.
The chief problem with all the proposals to split Texas was that the residents of the new state would no longer be Texans. That's a huge stumbling block to a population fiercely proud of its heritage. For that reason—as much as any other—Texlahoma never came to be.
[Yesterday's Lost State: Montezuma]