A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 24, 2006
Texas Horned Lizard Capital of the World (Kenedy nickname)

Kenedy used to be the flax capital of Texas. In 2001, however, the Texas legislature declared Kenedy to be the Texas Horned Lizard Capital of the World. The horned lizard has been protected since 1967, and Kenedy noticed that it had a lot of them.

Most Texans might call them “horny toads” (the mascot of Texas Christian University), but they really are lizards.

Handbook of Texas Online
KENEDY, TEXAS. Kenedy is on U.S. Highway 181 and State Highway 72 four miles south of Karnes City in southwestern Karnes County. Its site was part of a royal Spanish land grant made to Carlos Martínez in 1788. The community was established in 1886 on the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway, on a tract of land bought by Mifflin Kenedy from George W. Little that year. It was named Kenedy Junction in honor of Kenedy, the chief benefactor of the SA&AP. The post office at Kenedy Junction was established on March 27, 1887; its name was shortened to Kenedy on June 21, 1887. 
Although passenger train service was discontinued in the 1950s, Kenedy remained an economic center for the surrounding area, which derives its livelihood principally from farming, ranching, oil, gas, and uranium. Kenedy calls itself the “flax capital of Texas” and had at one time an annual Flax Festival.

Texas West
Horned toads scamper into Legislature
Scripps Howard Austin Bureau
Kenedy County

Some residents were remodeling a home in Kenedy County last year when they realized there were a number of horned lizards on their property.

The Horned Lizard Conservation Society looked into it and discovered that Kenedy County has the largest known population of federally protected Texas horned lizards.

And the lizard population is growing, said Roxanne Hoff, executive secretary of the Kenedy Chamber of Commerce.

That’s why residents formed the Horned Toad Club of Kenedy, which is open to anyone with an interest in the horned toad.

Hoff was one of several community members who sought special recognition for Kenedy – such as a state resolution declaring the city the Texas Horned Lizard Capital of the World.

“We thought it would help our Kenedy fame in a very positive way and put a spark in tourism,” she said. “We already know it is bringing some people to town who might be on their way somewhere else.”

Already, some motorists stop and visit after seeing signs declaring the community the Horned Lizard Capital.

“People stop by the chamber or downtown and ask where they can see some horned toads,” Hoff said. “Right now, in winter, they are in hibernation so it’s hard to find them now.

“But we really do have a gem here.”

Texas Horned Lizard
The Texas Horned Lizard

Horny Toads are neither frogs nor toads. As members of the reptile family, they are technically Horned Lizards. But if you grew up in Texas, it’s a horny toad.

Why is the Texas Horned Lizard on the endangered species list?

Most older Texans have had, at one time or another, a horny toad for a pet. Its appeal is the combination of a fierce appearance and a surprisingly pleasant personality. You can hold one in your hand, turn it over on its back, and stroke its belly until it dozes off. Unfortunately, the horny toad’s appeal is in part responsible for the rapid decline. In the fifties and early sixties, every tourist trap on every Texas highway sold horny toads as souvenirs. Some collectors gathered hundreds of thousands in a single year by paying schoolchildren a nickel for each one they brought in. Out of their natural home, the animals died, and so the state began protecting the Texas Horned Lizard in 1967. Today it is illegal even to own one as the Texas Horned Lizard is now a state-listed threatened species (federal category C2).

A second factor in the demise of the horny toad was pesticides. Chemical sprays that didn’t kill the creature itself killed harvester ants, its main food supply. Urbanization also hurt horny toads as widespread construction tore up their habitat. They actually liked highway asphalt, which retained enough heat to make an ideal lounging spot. But because horny toads instinctively freeze when they see movement, cars flattened them left and right. Nevertheless, there are still horny toads in Texas. 

Official Capital Designations - Texas State Library
Horned Lizard Capital of Texas
House Resolution No. 39, Senate Resolution No. 76, 77th Legislature, Regular Session (2001)
Texas Horned Lizard Capital of the World
House Concurrent Resolution No. 41, 77th Legislature, Regular Session (2001)

Texas Legislature
H.C.R. No. 41

WHEREAS, The city of Kenedy in Karnes County is a charming community that is known throughout South Texas for its colorful history and close association with the Texas horned lizard; and

WHEREAS, The town enjoys the unique distinction of having the largest known population of federally protected Texas horned lizards, and Kenedy residents have embraced the responsibilities of coexistence with this remarkable species; and

WHEREAS, To that end, they are keenly aware of landscaping, pest control, and other decisions affecting the creature’s habitat and are working in conjunction with the Horned Lizard Conservation Society to conduct research on the lizard with the goal of incorporating the results of that research into an academic curriculum; and

WHEREAS, In addition, residents have formed the Horned Toad Club of Kenedy, which is open to anyone having an interest in the species; the goals of this estimable organization include promoting conservation and preservation of Texas horned lizards, establishing a habitat site and a library, erecting a museum, and conducting survey and research work; and

WHEREAS, Texas horned lizards are a part of the rich heritage and culture of Kenedy and, indeed, all of the Lone Star State, and it is fitting to accord the city official recognition of its special status; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 77th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby declare Kenedy the Texas Horned Lizard Capital of the World and commend the citizens of Kenedy for their continued efforts to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of this uniquely Texan protected species.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 24, 2006 • Permalink