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W is for World’s Smallest Skyscraper

World's Smallest Skyscraper in Wichita Falls, TX (photo by Tui Snider)
World’s Smallest Skyscraper in Wichita Falls, TX (photo by Tui Snider)

The World’s Smallest Skyscraper

Built in 1919, the Newby-McMahon Building in downtown Wichita Falls (701 La Salle, Wichita Falls, TX) is more commonly referred to as “the world’s smallest skyscraper.”

J.D. McMahon was an engineer and oilman from Philadelphia who proposed adding a high-rise section to the original building to that it could house more office space.

McMahon quickly raised $200,000 (a fortune for that time) to construct an office building according to plans he drew up. At a glance, it appeared that the finished building would stand 48 stories high, and McMahon never said otherwise. Unfortunately for the investors, no one noticed the teeny little decimal points in the blueprints; this meant the building would actually stand 480 inches tall, not 480 feet, as everyone assumed.

McMahon constructed the building using his own crew, and it didn’t take long for investors to realize they had been conned. When they attempted to sue McMahon, however, the judge threw the case out because McMahon had followed the plans the investors had signed off on to the letter.

In the end, McMahon split town with a big chunk of cash before construction was completed, and the city was left with an embarrassing reminder of the importance of reading the fine print.

This odd little building is still standing and has been designated a Texas Historic Landmark. When I visited, it was undergoing renovation and was not open for touring. Even so, it is worth driving by if you happen to be in town. [The previous description is an abbreviated excerpt from my quirky travel guide Unexpected Texas]

World's Smallest Skyscraper in Wichita Falls, TX (photo by Tui Snider)
World’s Smallest Skyscraper in Wichita Falls, TX (photo by Tui Snider)

Follow me on Instagram & I’ll follow you back!

I’ve gone from turning up my nose at the idea of cell phone pictures, to being an avid iPhone photographer, which is why my theme for the 2014 A to Z blog challenge is Instagram Travel Photos. If you are on Instagram, I’d be delighted to follow you. Simply follow my photo feed (@TuiSnider) on Instagram and I’ll follow you back!

For more, check out my collaboration with Morgan Dragonwillow. Morgan used my iPhone photos to accompany her poems in a book called Wild Woman Waking. Check it out!

What is the April A to Z Blog Challenge?

Each April, people from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then use the blog hop linky to visit as many other bloggers as you can.

My A to Z Inspired Book: Unexpected Texas

I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my blog during the A to Z Challenge last year, because it convinced me to take the self-publishing plunge. On March 2, 2014, I released Unexpected Texas as a paperback and eBook and it quickly became an Amazon Best Seller!

Check out other A to Z blogs below:

Check out the other participants of the A to Z Challenge 

Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


  1. That’s quite a Texas story. I want to say a Texas tall tale, except it’s not a “tall tale” and it’s quite short actually. Funny. If you stop by my blog, I’d love a comment on V for Valleys (I scheduled it wrong, so it didn’t get any comments – my oops).

  2. Ann Ann

    Cute story. I mean, I can say it’s cute because it’s a little skyscraper, but it would make me angry if I were an invester.

  3. Oh my. Lesson learned: read the fine print. I’m shocked the judge didn’t rule in their favor, especially when the guy split town. Who forgot to round up the posse?

    True Heroes from A to Z

  4. It’s actually really cute!! What a fascinating story! :)

  5. Hilarious! I love all these quirky little places you highlight. It makes me want to go find them. I love it, Tui!

  6. I’m actually surprised the World’s Smallest Skyscraper isn’t in Winnipeg. We have some pretty pathetic excuses for a soaring downtown skyline.

  7. Great story. I suppose I will read about it in your book, eh? =D

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