Things are always happening in every corner of the country, and we rarely find out about some of the more unique happenings until much later, if at all. Your state (and even your charming small town) probably has some really weird history that you don't know about. Whether it's a story of how it got its name over 200 years ago or how they chose your state's official bug, every state in America has something pretty strange about it.
The Active Times has searched the internet for the strangest, weirdest, and wackiest fact about every state in America, plus the District of Columbia. Some of them are attractions you can visit, and some are just thought-provoking wonders that you can't see, but can imagine from the annals of history.
The United States is riddled with random facts that likely won't serve much purpose outside of winning trivia games, but it's still interesting to discover that your state has the largest produce because it gets the most sun, or that it's exclusively just your tradition to drop a potato instead of a silver ball on New Year's Eve. They're all weird and they're all true. Read on to learn the strangest fact about every state.
Alabama has an entire museum dedicated to a bug. The Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Alabama honors the invasive species of insect that forced the state's farmers to grow other crops instead of cotton. The monument depicts a woman holding a large weevil over her head.
Alaska has larger and sweeter produce than anywhere else in America. The sun can shine for up to 20 hours during this far northern state's summer months. For this reason, plants in Alaska, particularly cabbage, can grow to be abnormally large. According to NPR, the longer exposure to sunlight contributes to the sweetness of Alaskan produce.
It's not a major fashion statement here. The bolo tie has been recognized as the official state neckwear of Arizona since 1971, according to NPR.
Left:istockphoto.com; Right: Dreamstime
Find a diamond. pick it up, all the day you'll have....a diamond! If you find a diamond while scouring the field at the Crater of Diamonds, you are allowed to keep the gem. If you are serious about your search, the Arkansas center rents out mining tools that you can use. The colors of the diamonds you'll likely find here include white, brown, and yellow. This is the only diamond mine in the United States, so if you're looking to find something shiny and free, this is your best bet!
California's history has a surprising tie to Illinois. The original California state flag was designed by former first lady Mary Todd Lincoln's nephew, William Todd.
istockphoto.com; Right: Wikimedia Commons
There has never been a U.S. president or vice president born in Colorado.
Your sucker is named for a horse! The lollipop (originally "Lolly Pop") received its name in New Haven, Connecticut, from inventor George Smith, who trademarked the name in 1931 after being inspired by a race horse named Lolly Pop.
The tiny, dainty, red and black ladybug is Delaware's official state bug.
Florida's Brevard County has the area code is 321 in recognition of the countdown to each launch from the Kennedy Space Center. So if you get a call from 321, it might be NASA calling.
The "Jackson Tree" in Athens, Georgia, legally owns itself. You might think it belongs to a park or at least the city, but no. Previous owner Colonel William H. Jackson deeded the tree to itself on his deathbed. You'll have to drive a hard bargain to chop it down or trim it.
Boston Public Library/Wikimedia Commons
This Hawaiian post office in Molokai has the cutest program: They will let you send a free coconut through U.S. mail as long as postage is attached. They call it the "Post-A-Nut" service, and it has been around for two decades. That's a lot of mailed coconuts!
This Idaho New Year tradition sounds like one hot potato. A few hours after most of the country watches the ball drop in Times Square through their televisions on New Year's Eve, Idaho drops a huge potato when midnight strikes in Boise.
The Chicago River is the only river in the world that flows backwards. In 1900 a reversal technique diverted sewage away from Lake Michigan (where Chicagoans were getting their drinking water) and dumped it into the Mississippi watershed. The engineering feat has been recognized as one of the largest public earth-moving projects ever completed.
This Midwestern state tried to change the value of pi! In 1897 there was a movement by the state's legislature to round up the lengthy decimal value of pi to 3.2 - for convenience, of course. It didn't work, but the Hoosier pie (with three letters) remains the official state dessert.
It's problematic, but Iowa has held a yearly National Hobo Convention since 1900. The winners have their portraits done in celebration.
Left:Dreamstime; Right: istockphoto.com
Pizza Hut actually began in Wichita! The world's first Pizza Hut was opened in 1958 by two brothers in this Kansas town. They started their business by borrowing $600 from their mother.
According to the Kentucky Distillers' Association, there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than there are people. There are 4.7 million barrels of bourbon and 4.3 million people! That's a barrel per-person with a little left over!
Left: Dreamstime; Right: istockphoto.com
In Louisiana you can play golf inside a prison. The Louisiana State Penitentiary has a public golf course on its grounds, called the Prisonview Golf Course. As you might expect, it's got pretty tight security - guests have to submit information for a full background check 48 hours in advance, cameras are not allowed, all vehicles are subject to search, and play may be suspended any time at the warden's discretion.
Angola Prison/Wikimedia Commons
Maine is the only state in the U.S. with a one-syllable name. Did you just say it out loud? Did you just try to think of another state to prove us wrong?
If you own a toilet in Maryland (and we really hope you do), you're being taxed $2.50 a month for that luxury.
A Massachusetts judge ruled that a burrito is not a sandwich in 2006. Only foods made with two slices of bread and a filling are allowed to apply that name. So if you use two tortillas to make a quesadilla, you might be in luck.
Michigan is the only state in the country made up of two peninsulas - the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula - with the Straits of Mackinac separating the two. Due to this unique geography, it also has the longest freshwater coastline in the world.
Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any other state. According to Golf.com, "Approximately one resident of every five in the Gopher state hits the links each year."
This haunting Mississippi story is still told today. In 1942, a phantom barber terrorized the town of Pascagoula by cutting the hair of sleeping people. Newspapers at the time reported that he would occasionally only snip a lock or two, but would sometimes cut off a whole head of hair. He particularly liked blonde women. There have not been any reported copycats of this crime, so blondes, you're safe - for now.
Aunt Jemima pancake flour was first invented in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1889.
Your pet will probably live a longer life in Montana. This state has the highest average lifespan for pets according to one report from a national veterinary chain. Cats in Montana live two years longer than the national average, while dogs live a year and a half longer than the national average.
Kool-Aid has been the official state soft drink of Nebraska since 1998.
Three-fourths of New Mexico's roads are surfaced with either dirt or sedimentary rock. People in New Mexico probably wash their cars more often than anywhere else in America.
In the city that never sleeps, pinball was illegal in New York City until 1976.
Left:istockphoto.com; Right: David Edelman/Dreamstime.com
North Carolina is the largest sweet potato producer in the U.S. Their sweet potatoes make up 60 percent of the U.S.'s sweet potato crop. Think about that the next time you're at the supermarket.
Left: traveler1116; Right: istockphoto.com
North Dakota is so lonely! It is the least visited state in America. Most of those who do end up traveling to the state are in the oil industry.
The first ever traffic light in America was installed in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 5, 1914.
An Oklahoman invented the shopping cart. Sylvan Goldman of Oklahoma introduced one of the first shopping carts to the Humpty Dumpty supermarket in Oklahoma City in 1937, and shopping has been easier ever since.
Portland, Oregon, is home to 68 breweries. That's more breweries than any other city in the United States!
Rhode Island is home to America's oldest carousel, The Flying Horse Carousel. It's located in Watch Hill.
Left: istockphoto.com; Right: Albania L./Yelp
More peaches are actually produced in South Carolina than in Georgia. Still, a lot of women in Georgia refer to themselves as "Georgia Peaches" and as far as we know, women in South Carolina do not.
In the more frequented South Dakota, the small town of Clark hosts Potato Day to celebrate their spuds. On this day guests can take part in events such as a Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest and a Potato Dish Cooking Contest.
Courtesy of Clarksd.com
Though it's a hub for country performers, Music City's other artists were once thought to suffer from the "Nashville Curse." According to Nashville Scene, the hex began in the early '80s, when next-big-thing rockers Jason & the Nashville Scorchers took the word "Nashville" out of their name to get a record deal - but then never hit it big. No non-country artist from the city scored a platinum record until the pop-emo band Paramore did it with their album "Riot!" in 2007.
This state once accidentally honored the Boston Strangler. On April 1, 1971, Texas state Rep. Tom Moore proposed a bill that would honor the Boston Strangler, a man who allegedly murdered 13 women. He did this to prove that his colleagues did not read the bills that they were voting on. He later retracted the bill after it passed, but could you imagine? National Boston Strangler Day!
Planners for the town of Winooski once proposed covering the whole town with a giant dome to solve the winter energy conservation problem. Though the proposal received worldwide media attention, it received little political support and never began construction or planning.
Flickr/Don Shall/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
In Virginia, amusement parks determine the academic calendar for summer. In 1986, the "Kings Dominion Law" was passed stipulating that schools cannot begin before Labor Day. It was created to bring more money to the state by way of the tourism industry.
In a competition for "gargoyle" designs to raise money for the construction of the National Cathedral's west towers in the 1980s, one child's Darth Vader design took third place and earned the right to be carved in stone. Darth Vader has sat atop the National Cathedral ever since.
National Cathedral Darth
West Virginia was almost named "Kanawha" after one of the state's important rivers. When Virginia's western counties split from that state during the Civil War, a delegate convention in 1862 considered names like Kanawha, Vandalia, Augusta, and Allegheny before settling on West Virginia.
While known for their football team, the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is also known as the "Toilet Paper Capital" of the world because of the large number of toilet paper manufacturers based there.
One Wyoming town was built on top of an abandoned airport. The town of Bar Nunn exists where Wardwell Field airport used to be, and the town's more than 2,000 people use the original runways as streets. One of the town's two restaurants is actually located in a repurposed hangar.
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