50 Fascinating Facts About the Fifty States of America

Were you aware that Rhode Island was the first American colony to declare independence from Great Britain?

The United States of America, commonly known as America, the USA, or the U.S., gained independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. It currently has a population of 331,449,281 individuals, making it the third most populous country in the world as of 2020.

The U.S. is situated mainly in North America and shares borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. With a total area of 3,796,742 square miles (9,833,520 square kilometers), it is the third largest country globally, behind Russia and Canada.

The most populated city in the U.S. is New York City, while the capital is Washington, D.C. In this article, we will examine 50 fascinating facts about America, including facts about every state.

Contents
  1. Alabama is the Most Religious State in America
  2. Alaska Has the Highest Number of Missing Persons
  3. The World’s First McDonald’s Drive-Thru Was Built in Arizona
  4. Arkansas is Home to the Only Active Diamond Mine in the U.S.
  5. California Once Had Illegal U.S. Immigrants
  6. Colorado is home to the world’s largest hot springs swimming pool.
  7. Mark Twain wrote some of his most famous novels in Connecticut.
  8. Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  9. Gatorade was created by the University of Florida to help their NFL players perform better.
  10. A tree in the U.S. has ownership of itself and the land it stands on.
  11. Hawaii is the largest chain of islands in the world and the only U.S. state to be made up of a chain of islands.
  12. The world’s largest beagle is in Idaho and is not a living dog.
  13. The first skyscraper in the world was built in Chicago, Illinois.
  14. The founder of KFC was not from Kentucky but Indiana!
  15. The world’s largest bike-touring event takes place every year in Iowa.
  16. Liberal, Kansas is home to a replica of Dorothy Gale’s house from the famous movie, The Wizard of Oz.
  17. Kentucky has more than twice as many barrels of whiskey as it has residents.
  18. The Frog Capital of the World is located in Rayne, Louisiana.
  19. Most of Stephen King’s horror stories are set in Maine.
  20. The first American-born woman to be canonized, Elizabeth Ann Seton, lived in Maryland.
  21. Basketball was invented in Massachusetts to keep students active during the winter months.
  22. There is only one floating post office in the world, and it anchors in Michigan.
  23. The source of the mighty Mississippi River is actually in Minnesota.
  24. Both the world’s first heart and lung transplants were performed in Mississippi.
  25. The first commercially available pancake mix was invented in Missouri.
  26. The largest snowflake to ever be recorded landed in Montana.
  27. The first-ever ski lift was invented not in the mountains but on the Great Plains of America!
  28. More than half of Utah’s population are followers of the Mormon religion.
  29. Vermont was the first state in the US to legalize same-sex civil unions.
  30. The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia is the largest office building in the world.
  31. Starbucks initially only sold coffee beans in Seattle, Washington.
  32. The first Mother’s Day celebration occurred in Grafton, West Virginia.
  33. The Republican Party was established in Wisconsin to combat slavery.
  34. FAQ

Alabama is the Most Religious State in America

According to the Pew Research Center, 86% of adults in Alabama identify as Christians, with 49% being Evangelical Protestants. It is no surprise that religion is highly valued in the Yellowhammer State, with 77% of adults surveyed stating that religion is “very important” in their lives.

Bonus Fact: Around 50% of Alabamians turn to religion for guidance when making ethical decisions.

Alaska Has the Highest Number of Missing Persons

Alaska is famous for its reports of missing persons, exemplified by Christopher McCandless from Into the Wild. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. On average, five out of every 1,000 individuals are reported missing in Alaska, which is twice the national average. With a population of 731,000 people, this amounts to approximately 3,655 reported missing persons annually!

The World’s First McDonald’s Drive-Thru Was Built in Arizona

The concept of a drive-thru has been around since the early 20th century, shortly after the invention of the automobile. However, McDonald’s did not embrace this concept until much later. In 1975, the McDonald’s Sierra Vista in Arizona had a predicament – potential customers from the nearby military base were not permitted to dine in while wearing uniforms! The clever owner solved the problem by knocking a hole in the wall and installing a window, establishing the first McDonald’s in the world to accept drive-thru orders!

Arkansas is Home to the Only Active Diamond Mine in the U.S.

The Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is a state park situated atop an old volcanic crater. It is the only location on earth where the public is permitted to freely search for diamonds and keep whatever they find! Visitors discover over 600 diamonds annually, with the most valuable one discovered to date selling for a hefty $34,000!

California Once Had Illegal U.S. Immigrants

Alta California, which is now California, was once part of Mexico before becoming a U.S. state. During the early 19th century, the region was underdeveloped and loosely controlled, leading to legal and illegal immigration from the U.S. When the Mexican government tried to limit the rights of the illegal immigrants, they founded the short-lived California Republic. Interestingly, California’s official state flag is based on the California Republic’s flag.

Colorado is home to the world’s largest hot springs swimming pool.

The Glenwood Hot Springs resort in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is an impressive sight with over 100 rooms, a restaurant, a gift shop, a gym, and a large spa. However, the resort’s hot springs steal the show, feeding into a massive swimming pool with a cozy temperature of 90° – 93°F (32° – 34°C), perfect for relaxation.

Mark Twain wrote some of his most famous novels in Connecticut.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen-name Mark Twain, was a legendary U.S. author who wrote many of his most famous novels at his home in Connecticut. Although he was born in Missouri, he moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1874 and lived there for 17 years. Some of his notable novels during that time include A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

When the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, they needed a unified set of rules to form the basis of their new country’s laws. After drafting the U.S. Constitution, delegates from the former thirteen colonies signed it before sending it to each state for voting. Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787.

Gatorade was created by the University of Florida to help their NFL players perform better.

In the 1960s, the Florida Gators assistant coach worked with the university’s scientists to create a drink that would replace lost electrolytes and carbohydrates during intense games. They named it Gatorade after the Florida Gators football team. The drink proved to be effective, and the Gators started beating teams that were normally favored to win. Soon, not providing Gatorade to players was seen as a significant disadvantage.

A tree in the U.S. has ownership of itself and the land it stands on.

In Athens, Georgia, the first tree to own itself was a white oak tree. Its owner loved it so much that he decided to deed the tree and the land it was on to the tree itself after he died. Sadly, the tree was blown down in a storm in 1942. However, an acorn from the original tree was planted by the residents of Athens. The new tree that grew from it is considered the son of the original tree and is allowed to continue owning the land due to inheritance law.

Hawaii is the largest chain of islands in the world and the only U.S. state to be made up of a chain of islands.

132 islands make up Hawaii, but only seven of these are inhabited: Niihau, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii (Big Island). This picturesque chain of islands was formed by shifts in the Earth’s crust, causing lava to rise to the ocean’s surface and solidify into islands after cooling off.

The world’s largest beagle is in Idaho and is not a living dog.

Sweet Willy, a 30-foot (9.14 m) tall beagle, is actually a bed and breakfast! He lives among 60 other smaller dog sculptures crafted into various poses in Dog Bark Park, outside of Cottonwood, Idaho. The owners of Sweet Willy have been called barking mad, but they continue to produce more chainsaw-carved dog statues each year.

The first skyscraper in the world was built in Chicago, Illinois.

Despite being named the Home Insurance Building, it was built in 1895, after much of Chicago burned down in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Built with a steel frame, the Home Insurance Building was revolutionary for its time as it was more fire-resistant. Using steel frames also allowed it to be much taller than previous buildings, and it stood at an impressive 138 feet (42 m) tall when construction was finished.

Check out these 15 Impressive Facts About Illinois!

The founder of KFC was not from Kentucky but Indiana!

Colonel Sanders, the man behind KFC, was born and raised in Henryville, Indiana, not Kentucky. The first place he sold his fried chicken was not in Kentucky either, but in Salt Lake City, Utah! Only when he was getting old and running out of money did he decide to start the KFC restaurant franchise, beginning with his first KFC restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky.

The world’s largest bike-touring event takes place every year in Iowa.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) began in 1973 when two writers from the Des Moines Register cycled across Iowa. They wrote articles about their trip, and anyone who wished to join them on their six-day route was welcome. Both the articles and the trip itself were an instant hit, with many who missed out requesting it be held the following year.

Nowadays, only about 8,500 people are permitted to bike across Iowa due to the increasing number of people interested in the event.

Liberal, Kansas is home to a replica of Dorothy Gale’s house from the famous movie, The Wizard of Oz.

The City of Liberal decided to claim Dorothy as their own, constructing a replica of her house complete with a yellow brick road. They also have a Tornado Simulation Room for visitors.

Kentucky has more than twice as many barrels of whiskey as it has residents.

Most of the barrels are filled with Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, which is in high demand worldwide.

Despite the population being 4.5 billion, there are still 9,266,228 barrels of bourbon in Kentucky!

The Frog Capital of the World is located in Rayne, Louisiana.

Rayne was home to the world’s largest supplier of edible frogs, the Louisiana Frog Company Plant, in 1941. To keep their title, the town started an annual frog festival in 1973 which includes a parade and frogs dressed up in cute outfits.

Most of Stephen King’s horror stories are set in Maine.

King, a lifelong resident of Maine, is inspired by the small-town American lifestyle around him, adding a dark twist to his stories. Interestingly, the movie adaptations of his novels usually do not take place in Maine.

The first American-born woman to be canonized, Elizabeth Ann Seton, lived in Maryland.

Seton founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she lived after being born in New York City in 1774. She was canonized in 1975 for her charitable works and for inspiring countless charitable organizations that aid those in need in the United States and abroad.

Basketball was invented in Massachusetts to keep students active during the winter months.

In 1891, James Naismith created basketball as a solution to the lack of suitable sports for students to play during the winter.

Before coming up with thirteen rules that defined the basics of a new game, basketball, he worked on several ideas with his class. Basketball became an instant hit and rapidly spread to colleges nationwide and overseas! You may also be interested in these 15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Massachusetts.

There is only one floating post office in the world, and it anchors in Michigan.

Have you ever wondered how people manage to mail letters to ships sailing on the Great Lakes in Michigan? Fret no longer because of a ship called the J.W. Westcott II. This floating post office and predecessors have been delivering various goods from letters, pizza, and even a goat since 1874!

The source of the mighty Mississippi River is actually in Minnesota.

The Mississippi River is only the second-longest river in the United States at 2,350 miles long. The longest is the Missouri River, one of the Mississippi’s tributaries. Lake Itasca is the river’s source, which had been well known to the local Native Americans, but Henry Schoolcraft was the first European to discover it on July 13, 1832. The glacial lake appears insignificant compared to the expansive Mississippi River, covering just 1.8 square miles (4.7 square kilometers). You may also like these 15 Magnificent Facts About Minnesota.

Both the world’s first heart and lung transplants were performed in Mississippi.

Before the 1960s, if either your heart or one of your lungs failed, you were pretty much doomed. Dr. James Hardy set it upon himself to figure out this problem and attempted the world’s first lung transplant in Mississippi in 1963, with the patient living an extra eighteen days. Dr. Hardy’s next breakthrough was in 1964 when he transplanted a chimpanzee’s heart into a man’s chest, which unfortunately ceased to beat after an hour.

The first commercially available pancake mix was invented in Missouri.

During the 1880s, there was more flour going around than anyone knew what to do with, so a couple of young entrepreneurs set out to find a way to make it more profitable. Through this, they came up with the idea to sell packaged mixes of self-raising pancake flour, the first of its kind. Their pancake mix is none other than the timeless Aunt Jemima pancake mix, which is still available today! You may also like these 15 Marvelous Facts About Missouri.

The largest snowflake to ever be recorded landed in Montana.

Although there are probably thousands if not millions of snowflakes that have fallen throughout Earth’s history, which dwarf this one, from the ones we humans have seen and recorded, it’s incredibly impressive. No, we’re not talking about some measly 5-inch snowflake, but an absolute whopper measuring in at 15 inches (38 cm) across! This was reported back in 1887 at Fort Keogh, Montana.

The first-ever ski lift was invented not in the mountains but on the Great Plains of America!

Before the 1930s, skiing was not very popular due to the absence of ski lifts. However, in the 1930s, the Union Pacific Railroad Company built a luxurious ski resort to attract more people to ride their trains. The engineers in Omaha, Nebraska, worked hard to make skiing more accessible by devising a solution for those who did not want to hike up the mountain. The result was a success!

The infamous Area 51 of the U.S. government is located in the deserts of Nevada. Officially known as the Nevada Test and Training Range, it claims to be a U.S. Air Force base, but suspicion has surrounded it for years. Since the 1940s, there have been reports of downed flying saucers and aliens being shipped off to be studied at this “secretive” desert base in Nevada. More than fifty percent of adult Americans believe that the U.S. government is not disclosing all they know about the existence of aliens and their strange aircraft.

The most patriotic icon of the U.S., Uncle Sam, was based on a real person who lived in New Hampshire. Samuel Wilson inspected and delivered meat packages to U.S. troops during the War of 1812. All packages he inspected were stamped with the nation’s initials, “U.S.” While making his delivery rounds, some soldiers jokingly connected the letters and Sam and started calling him Uncle Sam. This name later became one of the most iconic characters of the U.S.

The last passenger airship that exploded in mid-air while attempting to dock was in New Jersey. The LZ 129 Hindenburg airship was designed to run off helium, but due to its rarity, hydrogen gas was used instead. Despite being a ticking time bomb, the airship successfully made several flights. However, on May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg randomly exploded while docking at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, marking the end of global attempts to use airships as passenger vehicles.

The wastelands of New Mexico were chosen as the testing site for the world’s first atomic bomb. The bomb, nicknamed Trinity, resulted from decades of work by some of the nation’s greatest brains brought together by the Manhattan Project. The final stages of development were completed in Los Alamos, New Mexico before the test site was chosen. Spectators witnessing the event from a distance of more than 10,000 feet were amazed by the explosion’s mushroom cloud, which stretched as high as 40,000 feet into the sky.

Grand Central Terminal in New York City is the world’s largest train station. Opened to the public in 1913, the train station is located in the central district of New York City. It has 44 platforms across two levels with 67 train tracks running through it. Today, it remains a sight to see.

This train station is not only the largest in the world in terms of capacity, but it also holds the record for sheer size, covering an astonishing 49.95 acres (19 hectares). Take a look at these 15 intriguing facts about New York State. The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, spent years designing the first successful aircraft in their home state of Ohio. However, it was North Carolina that became known as the birthplace of aviation, as it was there that the Wright Brothers chose a location just outside Kitty Hawk to test their modified aircraft, resulting in a 12-second flight covering a distance of 12 feet (40 meters). North Dakota is home to the geographical center of North America, despite the US Geological Survey Department initially miscalculating the center’s location to be between Balta and Rugby. The true center was only discovered in 2017 by a Geography professor and is located in a town called Center. The US Postal Service started transporting parcels in 1913, and people soon began sending some unusual packages, including their children. The first known case of this happened in Ohio, where a couple sent their eight-month-old baby to their grandmother a few miles away. Lottie Williams holds the distinction of being the only person known to have been struck by space debris, which happened while she was walking in a park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1997. The debris was likely from a rocket that broke up in the atmosphere, but NASA never confirmed or denied responsibility. The Malheur National Forest in Oregon is home to the world’s largest living organism, a colony of mushrooms known as Armillaria ostoyae or honey mushroom. This colony is about 2,400 years old and covers an impressive 2,200 acres (880 hectares) of the forest, using trees as a food source. Check out these 15 facts about Oregon for more interesting information.

Pennsylvania holds the title of the potato chip capital of the United States and is particularly passionate about snacks. In Hanover, York County, residents are dedicated to producing the best potato chips in the world, with many small independent chip companies competing for the title. Pennsylvania produces more potato chips than any other location globally.

Rhode Island was the first American colony to declare independence from Britain in 1776 due to new taxes imposed on them. Despite being the first to rebel, Rhode Island was the last to ratify the U.S. constitution in 1790.

South Carolina is home to the UFO welcome center, constructed by a local UFO enthusiast over many years. The center is equipped with a toilet, air conditioning, and a guest book for visitors to sign. It is shaped like two stacked UFOs and appears somewhat dilapidated.

South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore, a tribute to four of the most influential leaders in U.S. history: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson. The monument was originally designed to promote tourism to South Dakota and took 14 years to complete, with 450,000 tons of stone extracted from the cliff-face.

Tennessee has the only Official State Rap Song in the United States, titled “A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap: 1796 to 1996.” The song was created to make learning about Tennessee’s history fun, but it has been widely criticized.

Texas is larger in size than any individual country in the European Union, measuring 268,597 square miles. However, it is not the largest U.S. state; that title belongs to Alaska.

France, the largest country in the European Union, is slightly smaller than Utah at 248,573 square miles (643,801 km²).

More than half of Utah’s population are followers of the Mormon religion.

Utah was chosen by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints as a safe haven for their religion before it became a state. The church played a significant role in building Utah and still holds significant influence in the state’s affairs due to the high percentage of Mormon residents.

Vermont was the first state in the US to legalize same-sex civil unions.

Vermont protected its LGBTQ+ community by introducing laws allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. In 2000, same-sex civil unions were made legal, and same-sex marriage was finally legalized in 2009.

The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia is the largest office building in the world.

The US Department of Defense is housed in the Pentagon, an incredible feat of engineering considering its vast size. Despite covering 6.5 million square feet (603,870 m²) and 17.5 miles (28 km) of corridors, it only takes seven minutes to walk between the furthest points of the building.

Starbucks initially only sold coffee beans in Seattle, Washington.

Starbucks was founded by three individuals passionate about high-quality coffee beans. They sourced and roasted beans locally, eventually expanding to six stores in Seattle. The company was not transformed into the coffee shop giant it is today until it was sold in 1987.

The first Mother’s Day celebration occurred in Grafton, West Virginia.

Ann Jarvis campaigned for a day to celebrate mothers, which was realized by her daughter, Anna. The first Mother’s Day celebration took place in Grafton, West Virginia, in 1907 at the church where Ann had taught.

The Republican Party was established in Wisconsin to combat slavery.

The laws regarding the voting of the U.S. states for “free” states or “slave” states were changed in 1854, which caused outrage among northern states, including Wisconsin. Meetings were organized to fight against the new laws, and the Republican Party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin as a result. Yellowstone National Park was founded in Wyoming in 1872, making it the world’s first National Park. The park contains North America’s largest supervolcano, the Yellowstone Caldera, and more than half of the world’s geysers. The United States of America is a diverse nation with unique cultures, geography, and historical backgrounds. From the east coast to the west, there is much to explore in the U.S. that many Americans never leave because there is always something to do at home.

FAQ

1. What is the smallest state in the US?

The smallest state in the US is Rhode Island, with a total area of just 1,214 square miles. Despite its size, Rhode Island is home to over 1 million people.

2. What is the largest state in the US?

The largest state in the US is Alaska, with a total area of 663,268 square miles. Despite its size, Alaska is home to only around 700,000 people.

3. Which state has the highest population?

California has the highest population of any state in the US, with over 39 million people. Texas comes in second place, with just over 29 million people.

4. Which state has the lowest population?

Wyoming has the lowest population of any state in the US, with just over 580,000 people. Vermont and Alaska also have relatively low populations.

5. Which state has the most national parks?

California has the most national parks of any state in the US, with nine in total. Alaska and Utah come in second place, with eight national parks each.

6. Which state has the most coastline?

Alaska has the most coastline of any state in the US, with over 6,600 miles of coastline. Florida and California also have significant amounts of coastline.

7. Which state is known as the “Empire State”?

New York is often referred to as the “Empire State”. This nickname is thought to have originated in the 19th century, when New York was one of the most prosperous and powerful states in the US.

8. Which state is known as the “Sunshine State”?

Florida is often referred to as the “Sunshine State”. This nickname reflects the state’s warm climate and sunny weather.

9. Which state is known as the “Golden State”?

California is often referred to as the “Golden State”. This nickname is thought to have originated during the California Gold Rush of the mid-19th century.

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