The Strangest Little-Known Fact About Every State

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 some odd, silly, or at the very least semi-interesting fact about it. 

The Active Times has searched the internet to uncover 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 or entertaining your friends and family, 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 state's tradition to drop a potato instead of a silver ball on New Year's Eve. They're all weird and they're all true, even if you've never heard of it before. These are the strangest little-known facts 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.


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 used to be called "The Grizzly Bear State." It only became known as "The Golden State" after it's Grizzly population was wiped out. 


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.


The Hawaiian post office in Molokai has the cutest program: They will let you send a 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!


Idaho has an entire museum dedicated to the spud, called The Idaho Potato Museum


Watch out Paris! Aurora, Illinois, is also called the "City of Lights," though not because of its dazzling scenery and architecture (or involvement in the Age of Enlightenment), but because it was the first U.S. city to use electric street lighting city-wide. Funnily enough, there is also a Paris, Illinois.


Indiana 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.


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!


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.


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.


It's actually illegal to scare a pigeon out of its home anywhere in Massachusetts. It's listed in Section 132 of the state's general laws and the offense is punishable by an up to $20 fine or a month in prison!


Surprisingly, this Midwestern state is not only the magic capital of America, it's the magic capital of the world. Not only does the state have a magic museum, and host a magic convention, The Colon Lakeside Cemetery in Michigan has more magicians buried in it than any other cemetery in the world!


Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any other state. According to, "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.


Missouri has an entire museum dedicated to hair art, and it claims to be the only one in the world. Leila Cohoon, founder of Leila's Hair Museum, displays 600 hair wreaths and over 2000 pieces of jewelry in her museum. All pieces are made from human hair as was popular in the Victorian era. The oldest piece in the museum is from 1680! Leila, a former hairdresser, also gives classes on hair art techniques.


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.


Reno, Nevada, is actually farther west than the city of Los Angeles.

New Hampshire

A six-person group of do-gooders were sued in the city of Keene, New Hampshire, for paying random people's tickets for expired parking meters in 2013. The charges were later dropped by the judge.

New Jersey

This is an excellent piece of trivia to have in your back pocket: The names of the properties on the Monopoly game board are meant to refer to streets and places in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

New Mexico

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.

New York

It may be the city that never sleeps, but pinball was illegal in New York City until 1976.

North Carolina

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.

North Dakota

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!


More than 50 years ago, a coal seam fire began burning 300 feet underground in the small town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, and it continues burning to this day. Due to the fire, the small town has been gradually abandoned and now has only 10 residents remaining (based on 2017 US Census Bureau estimates). The fire could continue to burn underground for 250 more years, scientists believe. Centralia has become something of a tourist attraction, and one hot, smoking section of abandoned roadway along Route 61 has become so covered with decorations left by visitors that it's now known as the Graffiti Highway.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is home to America's oldest carousel, The Flying Horse Carousel. It's located in Watch Hill.

South Carolina

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.

South Dakota

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.


Cotton candy was invented in Nashville, Tennessee, by William Morrison and John C. Wharton in 1897.


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.


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.


The Washington state dance is the square dance.

Washington, D.C.

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.

West Virginia

West Virginia was almost named something completely different. When Virginia's western counties split from that state during the Civil War, a delegate convention in 1862 considered names like New Virginia, 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. But that's not the only airport-related place with good eats. Jackson Hole's airport is home to some of the best food and drink in Wyoming!

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