50 Incredible Facts About The Fifty US States

Many see the U.S. as a single giant mass, but when you look at the U.S. on a state-by-state basis, you truly get a sense of how incredible the nation is.

Commonly known to many worldwide as America, the USA, or simply the U.S., the United States of America was founded on July 4, 1776, after gaining independence from Great Britain.

The U.S. is located primarily in the North American continent, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.

With a total of 3,796,742 square miles (9,833,520 square kilometers) of land and water, it is the 3rd largest country in the world, ranking behind Russia and Canada, respectively.

Here we're going to look at 50 facts about America, covering facts about each and every state.


1. The most religious state in the U.S. is Alabama.

The ten most religious states in the US, based on the percentage of highly religious population, are Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. Alabama ranks first with an impressive 77% highly religious population, closely followed by Mississippi in second place, also with 77%.

2. Alaska ranks number one when it comes to people going missing.

On average, about five out of every 1,000 people are reported missing in Alaska, which is twice the national average.

3. The world's first McDonald's drive-thru was built in Arizona.

To be clear, drive-through restaurants were not a new innovation–many restaurants have a claim to the first drive-through burger, including the popular west coast chain In-N-Out Burger. McDonald's, however, emphasized counter service and the local diner feel. But by 1974, a franchise in Oklahoma City was intending to open a drive-through window, and Dave Rich, the operator of the Sierra Vista McDonald's, was intrigued by the possibility.

Sierra Vista was and is a military town, with many residents working and living at nearby Fort Huachuca. Military officers who were on duty could not be seen wearing their uniforms in public due to the fort's rules on military decorum, making a sit-down lunch impossible. However, they could grab lunch and go with no one being the wiser. So Dave Rich cut a hole in the wall of his McDonald's franchise, put up glass and an intercom, and burger history was made.

4. The state of Arkansas is home to the U.S.' only active diamond mine.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only active diamond mine in the US and the only one where the public can search for diamonds in their original volcanic source.

More than 600 diamonds are found by visitors annually, with the most valuable found to date selling for a hefty 34 thousand dollars!

5. There used to be illegal U.S. immigrants in California.

Before California was a U.S. state, it was actually Alta California, a part of Mexico.

During the early 19th century, much of the region was undeveloped and loosely controlled. As a result, many from the U.S. came to live there both legally and illegally.

6. The world's largest hot springs swimming pool can be found in Colorado.

Glenwood Hot Springs in Colorado is home to the largest hot springs pool on Earth.

The hot springs feed into a massive swimming pool that's kept at a cozy temperature of 90° – 93°F (32° – 34°C), which is just the perfect temperature for lazing about!

7. Legendary U.S. author Mark Twain wrote some of his most famous novels at his home in Connecticut.

He was actually born in Missouri but moved to Hartford, Connecticut, in 1874, where he lived for the next seventeen years.

Did you know that his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens? Mark Twain was just his pen-name!

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

Delaware was the first of the new U.S. states to sign the Constitution on December 7, 1787.

9. The University of Florida designed Gatorade to help their NFL players perform better.

Back in the '60s, the Florida Gators assistant coach sat down with a bunch of the university's scientists and concluded that their players were all struggling on hot days partially due to lost electrolytes and a lack of carbohydrates.

After much time in the lab, they devised a drink that replaced the salt, electrolytes, and carbohydrates players lost during intense games, naming it Gatorade after the Florida Gators football team.

10. A tree in the U.S. owns itself and the land underneath it.

The first tree that owned itself was a white oak tree in Athens, Georgia, whose owner had loved it so much that he decided to deed the tree and the land it was on to the tree itself after he died.

Unfortunately, this tree was blown down in a storm in 1942, but residents of Athens planted an acorn from the original tree in its place.

The new tree that grew from this is considered the son of the original tree and allowed to continue owning the land due to inheritance law!

11. Hawaii is the only U.S. state to be made up of a chain of islands.

This picture-perfect chain of islands was formed by shifts in the Earth's crust, causing lava to rise to the ocean's surface, which solidified into islands after it cooled off. Not only that, but Hawaii is actually the largest chain of islands in the world.

132 islands make up this isolated state, but only seven of these are inhabited: Niihau, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii (Big Island).

12. The largest beagle in the world lives in Idaho and isn't a living dog.

Sweet Willy, at 30 feet tall, is the world's biggest beagle.

Sweet Willy lives among 60 other much smaller dog sculptures crafted in various poses in Dog Bark Park, just outside of Cottonwood, Idaho.

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

The world's first skyscraper was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, erected in 1884-1885.

The way the Home Insurance Building was constructed was revolutionary for its time, built with a steel frame which made it much more fire-resistant.

Using steel frames also allowed it to be much taller than previous buildings, so when construction was finished, it stood an impressive 138 feet (42 m) tall!

14. The founder of KFC wasn't actually from Kentucky but Indiana!

The colonel's fried chicken first became a fast-food hit in an unlikely location—Salt Lake City, Utah. It was there in 1952 that Pete Harman, a Sanders friend who operated one of the city's largest restaurants, became the colonel's first franchisee.

15. The world's largest bike-touring event is held 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 decided to cycle across Iowa.

RAGBRAI, Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is more than just a bike ride, it is an epic eight-day rolling festival of bicycles, music, food, camaraderie, and community. It is the oldest, largest, and longest multi-day bicycle touring event in the world.

These days more people want to bike across Iowa than there is space on the roads, so numbers are limited to about 8,500 participants yearly.

16. You can visit Dorothy Gale's house replica from The Wizard of Oz in Liberal, Kansas.

Fans of the timeless 1939 film have long wondered where in Kansas Dorothy was from.

So, the City of Liberal decided to claim Dorothy as one of their own. A replica of Dorothy's house was constructed with a yellow brick road.

17. There's so much whiskey in Kentucky that there are more than twice as many barrels as there are residents!

A whopping 10.5 million barrels of bourbon are aging in Kentucky distilleries right now, which means there are more than two barrels for every person living in the state.

18. Rayne, Louisiana is the frog capital of the world.

This is a southwest Louisiana city that proudly proclaims itself, "The Frog Capital of the World." It all started in the late 1800s when Jacques Weil and his brothers started a frog export business. They were shipping the locally harvested frogs to restaurants in France where they were considered a delicacy.

Nowadays, the frog festival has a range of attractions, including a parade, ample frogs to kiss, and even frogs dressed up in cute outfits!

19. Most of Stephen King's horror stories are set in the sleepy New England state of Maine.

A lifelong resident, King is constantly being inspired by what he sees around him, modeling much of the background of his stories of it — with a dark twist, of course!

20. The first American-born woman to be canonized lived in Maryland.

Elizabeth Ann Seton was born in New York City in 1774, but it wasn't until later in the early 1800s that she began to truly make a difference in the world.

Then, she moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's.

Elizabeth Seton was deemed saintly much later in 1975, partially for her charitable works, but most importantly for sowing the seed for countless charitable organizations that give aid to the needy both in the U.S. and abroad.

21. Basketball was invented in Massachusetts to keep students fit and active over winter.

James Naismith, a Canadian American physical educator and innovator, invented the game of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 to keep his students active during the winter.

22. Michigan has the only floating post office in the world.

Have you also been kept at night wondering how on earth people manage to mail letters to ships sailing on the Great Lakes in Michigan?

Fret no longer, as we're here to tell you that it's all thanks to 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!

23. The source of the Mississippi River is Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota.

While it's undoubtedly one of the greatest of the U.S.' rivers, the Mississippi River is realistically only the second longest river in the nation at 2,350 miles long (the longest is the Missouri River, one of the Mississippi's tributaries).

Lake Itasca, the river's source, had been well known to the local Native Americans, but the first European to discover this was Henry Schoolcraft 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).

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

Until the 1960s, if either your heart or one of your lungs failed, you were pretty much doomed.

In 1963, Dr. James Hardy set it upon himself to figure out this problem and attempted the world's first lung transplant in Mississippi, with the patient living an extra eighteen days.

25. The first commercially available pancake mix was invented in Missouri.

There was more flour going around in the 1880s 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 upon 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!

26. The largest snowflake to ever be recorded landed in Montana.

Fort Keogh, Montana, United States--A giant snowflake discovered by Matt Coleman, a ranch owner in Fort Keogh, Montana, in 1887, measured 15 inches (38.1 cm) wide and 8 inches (20.3 cm), setting the world record for being the World Largest Snowflake, according to the WORLD RECORD ACADEMY.

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

Skiing wasn't that popular before the 1930s, primarily because there were no ski lifts!

The very first ski lift was built in Nebraska in 1936, though it was not particularly effective – it consisted of a tow rope powered by a car engine and could transport only one skier at a time.

28. The U.S. Government's infamous Area 51 is located deep in the deserts of Nevada.

Officially named the Nevada Test and Training Range and claiming to be merely a U.S. Air Force base, Area 51 has fallen under much suspicion over the 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 isn't telling them all they know about the existence of aliens and their strange aircraft.

29. The U.S.' most patriotic icon, Uncle Sam, was based on a real guy who lived in New Hampshire.

In September 1961, the U.S. Congress recognized Samuel Wilson as "the progenitor of America's national symbol of Uncle Sam." Wilson died at age 87 in 1854, and was buried next to his wife Betsey Mann in the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, New York, the town that calls itself "The Home of Uncle Sam."

Samuel Wilson was one of the men responsible for inspecting and delivering meat packages to U.S. troops during the War of 1812. All packages he inspected were stamped with the nation's initials, "U.S."

When Sam was making his delivery rounds, some soldiers jokingly connected the letters and Sam. They soon started calling him Uncle Sam, a name that later became one of the U.S.' most iconic characters!

30. The last passenger airship exploded mid-air while attempting to dock in New Jersey.

The ill-fated LZ 129 Hindenburg airship was initially designed to run off helium, a non-flammable gas, but due to helium's rarity, hydrogen gas was used instead.

On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg seemed to randomly explode while docking at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, marking the end of global all attempts to use airships as passenger vehicles.

31. The wastelands of New Mexico were used as the testing site for the world's first atomic bomb.

The world's first nuclear explosion occurred on July 16, 1945, when a plutonium implosion device was tested at a site located 210 miles south of Los Alamos, New Mexico, on the plains of the Alamogordo Bombing Range, known as the Jornada del Muerto.

The bomb, nicknamed Trinity, resulted from decades of work from some of the nation's greatest brains, brought together by the Manhattan Project.

Spectators witnessing the never-before-seen event from a distance of more than 10,000 feet (3,048 m) were flabbergasted by the explosion's mushroom cloud, which stretched as high as 40,000 feet (12,144 m) into the sky!

32. New York City's Grand Central Terminal is the world's largest train station.

Located in the central district of New York City, Grand Central Terminal was opened to the public in 1913 and is still truly a sight to be seen today. The train station was built to house 44 platforms across two levels, with 67 train tracks running through it.

It's not just the largest train station in the world due to its capacity, but also due to its sheer size — the entire building takes up a shocking 49.95 acres (19 hectares)!

33. The world's first successful plane flight took off and landed in North Carolina.

Orville and Wilbur Wright, otherwise known as the Wright Brothers, designed the aircraft over many years in their home state of Ohio.

After countless failures and subsequent modifications, the Wright Brothers happened to choose a location just outside of

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to test their later flights.

It's here that the first successful plane flight happened, lasting a total of 12 seconds and covering a distance of 12 feet (40 meters).

34. North America's geographical center lies in North Dakota.

In 1928, the U.S. Geological Survey Department made an incorrect calculation that positioned the continent's geographical center to lie somewhere between the towns of Balta and Rugby, with Rugby soon after staking claim to being the home of North America's center.

Funnily enough, the calculation was only discovered to be incorrect in 2017 by a Geography professor who found the actual location.

In a shocking twist, the Geographical Center of North America is, I kid you not, in a town called Center, in North Dakota!

35. People in the U.S. used to send their children to relatives via the US Postal Service.

The US Postal Service (USPS) first started transporting parcels back in 1913, and it wasn't long before people started sending some rather unique packages.

The first known case of someone mailing their child using the USPS happened in Ohio.

36. The only known case of a person being struck by space junk happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The first person known to have been struck by orbital debris returning to Earth was Lottie Williams (USA). On the morning of 22 January 1997, Williams was walking laps in a park in Turley – a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA – when she was stuck a glancing blow on the shoulder by a 5-inch-long (12.7-cm) piece of blackened fibreglass.

Fortunately, the piece of space junk that struck her had lost nearly all speed and size while burning up in the atmosphere during re-entry, so she walked away unscathed.

NASA never confirmed nor denied responsibility, but they did admit that one of their rockets had broken up in the atmosphere, and it was possible that a piece of this landed in the Tulsa region.

37. The Malheur National Forest in Oregon is home to the world's largest living organism.

Oregon's Malheur National Forest is the home of an occurrence of Armillaria ostoyae, nicknamed the Humongous Fungus, believed to be the largest single living organism, by biomass, on earth.

This single colony of mushrooms has been dated to be about 2,400 years old and covers an immense 2,200 acres (880 hectares) of the forest.

38. The potato chip capital of the United States is in Pennsylvania, which seems to be a bit mad about snacks in general.

People in Pennsylvania, especially Hanover, in York County, care deeply about their potato chips.

Instead of resigning themselves to a fate of boring mass-produced chips, there are hundreds of small independent chip companies, all claiming to make the best potato chips in the world.

39. Rhode Island becomes first colony to declare independence from England.

The Rhode Island colony had much to lose from new taxes pushed onto them by their British overlords, so they struck out first and declared themselves to be an independent state on May 4, 1776.

Two months later, the rest of the Thirteen Colonies followed suit and rebelled against Britain.

Rhode Island was wary of joining the other colonies in founding the United States of America for quite some time.

Despite being the first to rebel, they were the last to ratify the U.S. constitution in 1790.

40. Tucked away in remote South Carolina lies the U.S.' only UFO welcome center.

Far from being any official establishment, the UFO welcome center was constructed over many years, beginning in 1994 by a local UFO enthusiast.

The center is somewhat dilapidated, constructed out of odd bits and pieces that the owner, Joseph Pendarvis, was able to scavenge.

Vaguely shaped like two UFOs stacked on top of each other, it is equipped with a toilet, air conditioning, and a guest book for visitors to sign.

41. South Dakota is home to one of the U.S.' greatest monuments.

As America's Shrine of Democracy, South Dakota's Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the 60-foot faces of four great American presidents who represent the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country.

To carve out the presidential heads, some 450,000 tons (408,233 tonnes) of stone were extracted from the cliff-face, taking fourteen years to complete.

While it's undoubtedly a fantastic tribute to some of the U.S.' most influential leaders, it was originally designed to merely promote tourism to South Dakota.

42. Tennessee is the only state to have an Official State Rap Song.

Don't get your hopes up that it's some sort of musical masterpiece; it is titled A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap: 1796 to 1996, after all.

The song's creators thought it would make it easier for Tennesseans to learn their state's history through a fun song, but it's hard to take anything in when you're cringing that much.

43. Texas alone is larger in size than every single country in the European Union.

Despite measuring 268,597 square miles (695,662 km²), Texas isn't even the largest U.S. state, itself being dwarfed by Alaska.

Texas, of course, isn't larger than all EU nations combined but larger than each of them individually.

The largest EU country, France, is pretty close but just a little smaller at 248,573 square miles (643,801 km²).

44. More than half the population of Utah are Mormons.

Long before Utah was a state, it was chosen by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints as a place of refuge, where they could practice their religion freely away from those who shunned them for their unorthodox practices.

The church and its members essentially built Utah from the ground up, practically running the place until it became a state in 1896.

These days the church still has massive sway in the goings-on of the state, which is possible mainly because some 55% of the population are Mormons!

45. The first U.S. state to allow same-sex civil unions was Vermont.

Unlike many other parts of the U.S. in the 1990s, Vermont fought hard to protect its members of the gay and lesbian community, which they did by the introduction of laws that allowed same-sex couples to adopt children.

Vermont's progressive streak in the 90s continued into the 2000s, with same-sex civil unions becoming possible through laws introduced on March 15, 2000.

That said, it took quite a while for same-sex marriage to be allowed, with Vermont being the 4th state to legalize it on September 1, 2009.

46. The world's largest office building can be found in Arlington, Virginia.

The world's largest office building is the Pentagon, located in Arlington, Virginia, USA. The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, and it employs over 23,000 workers. The massive building covers over 6.5 million square feet and has five sides, giving it its iconic pentagon shape.

47. Starbucks only sold coffee beans when it was founded in Seattle, Washington.

The company itself was founded in 1971 by three unlikely individuals, two teachers, and a writer, who all shared a deep passion for coffee.

The first Starbucks store was located in Seattle at 2000 Western Avenue from 1971–1976. This cafe was later moved to 1912 Pike Place; never to be relocated again. During this time, the company only sold roasted whole coffee beans and did not yet brew coffee to sell.

It wasn't until the trio sold the company in 1987 that Starbucks started taking steps to become the coffee shop conglomerate we know and love today.

48. The first Mother's Day celebration took place in a small town in West Virginia.

Notions of a day to celebrate mothers had been going around for several years already when Ann Jarvis started campaigning for it, but all other attempts ran out of steam and ultimately died off.

Ann Jarvis herself died in 1905 before actualizing her dream, and it was her daughter, Anna, who took it upon herself to make it a reality.

On May 12, 1907, Anna Jarvis organized the first-ever Mother's Day celebration at the church where her mother taught in Grafton, West Virginia, their hometown.

49. The Republican Party was founded in Wisconsin based on fighting against slavery.

In 1854, the laws on how the U.S. states voted for "free" states or "slave" states were changed, tipping the balance in favor of the slave states.

Most northern states, including Wisconsin, were outraged mainly by this and quickly started organizing meetings to find ways to fight the new laws.

One such meeting took place in Ripon, Wisconsin, where all the attendees were so outraged by the changes that they founded the Republican Party to try and fight them.

50. The world's first National Park was founded in Wyoming in 1872.

Established by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone National Park was the first of its kind.

The land the park covers has held a special place in the hearts of Native Americans for tens of thousands of years, and its beauty captivated European Americans so much that they sought to protect it as much as possible.

These days Yellowstone National Park covers some 3,468 square miles (8,983 km²) of Wyoming and contains the Yellowstone Caldera, North America's largest supervolcano, along with more than half of the world's geysers!

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