Scottsboro is home to the only Unclaimed Baggage Center
in the U.S. The center covers a city block and collects baggage from every state.
In 1997, citizens of Talkeetna elected a cat as mayor. Dubbed Stubs for his
short tail, the political feline held the mayoral position until his death in July 2017.
Women’s rights are a hot topic, but Arizona has always been ahead of the pack. The Copper State granted women the right to vote in 1912, eight years before the 19th Amendment was enacted.
This state is home to the country’s only active diamond mine. Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro claims the world’s most perfect diamond, the 3.03-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond; and North America’s largest diamond, a 40.23-carat stone named the Uncle Sam Diamond.
The third largest state is home to the world’s largest tree. Hyperion is the name of the 379-foot, record-holding redwood. But don’t plan on visiting—the tree’s location is a closely kept secret to preserve the area’s delicate ecology.
Colorado claims one of the largest gator parks in the nation, featuring reptile-wrestling lessons for brave visitors. The 80-acre sanctuary sits on a geothermal well that keeps the cold-blooded animals nice and toasty all year long.
The world’s first submarine, Turtle, was invented and built by David Bushnell, the son of a Connecticut farmer. The underwater vessel was launched in 1776 and used in combat.
Built in 1828, the 1700- and 2800-foot breakwaters on Cape Henlopen were the first in the Western Hemisphere. They established a shipping haven on a coastline that lacked safe harbors, and in 1976, were listed as a National
Register of Historic Places.
Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green was the first to use red veterinary petrolatum, brand name Red Vet Pet, as a sunscreen during WWII. After the war, he mixed it with cocoa butter and coconut oil. Coppertone® bought the patent for the sticky, frighteningly red substance.
Nowadays, more movies and TV shows are filmed in Georgia than in Hollywood (think Walking Dead), although 1939’s Gone with the Wind was actually filmed in Hollywood, and other California locales.
Not that long ago Hawaiians considered sharks (mano) family—gods even—to be treated with honor and respect.
To get to the Heaven’s Gate Lookout tower, you have to travel through Seven Devils Campground. Atop, you will enjoy a bird’s-eye view of four states: Idaho, Oregon Washington, and Montana.
Abraham Lincoln’s first public office was as postmaster of New Salem, where he served from May 7th, 1833 until May 30th, 1836, when the post office was relocated to Petersburg.
Every year, a team of three hundred “elves” write personal replies to the over 20,000 letters sent to Santa from around the world, all of which end up in the small Indiana town of Santa Claus.
The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is the largest man-made cavern in the world and boasts the biggest trove of precious stones and gems.
Helium was detected for the first time on Earth, in 1903, in Dexter’s Hugoton Gas Field, now the largest helium reserve in the nation.
Poverty Point is the site of a 3,500-year-old village, now listed as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site.
Maine (our home state!) has more than 4,600 islands, only a handful of which are inhabited.
The town of Boring, named after its 19th-century postmaster David Boring, consists of only one church, one post office, one volunteer fire department, and 40 houses.
Snoring, “unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked,” is prohibited in this state by an old law still technically on the books.
Detroit was the first city in the United States to get individual phone numbers. By 1879, the city had grown so large, operators could no longer route calls by a resident’s name alone.
In 1922, Ralph W. Samuelson invented the first functional water skis—two eight-foot pine boards pulled by a motorboat on Lake Pepin in Lake City.
Biloxi is the birthplace of root beer. Edward Adolf Barq, Sr. invented the iconic soda, which he bottled and sold in 1871.
St. Louis is the site of the first Olympics held outside Europe. The 1904 summer games ran from August 29 until September 3.
Yogo sapphires, found only in Yogo Gulch in the Little Belt Mountains, are generally less than two carats. But the largest ever cut, a 10.2-carat cut stone, is proudly displayed in the Smithsonian. There are more than 28 million sapphires still waiting to be mined.
An apple tree on the University of Nebraska Lincoln campus originated from the ancient tree that inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity.
Nevada is the greatest gold-producing state in the United States—Goldstrike mine has reserves of over 8.1 million ounces, with annual yields of close to 950,000 ounces.
29. New Hampshire
In 1833, the oldest public library was opened in Peterborough. New Hampshire was also
the first state to pass a law authorizing towns to raise money for public libraries.
30. New Jersey
Hoboken is home to the first professional baseball game. On June 19, 1846, the New York Nine beat the Knickerbockers 23–1 in four innings.
31. New Mexico
On March 31, 1950, the town of Hot Springs changed its name to Truth or Consequences after Ralph Edwards, host of the radio quiz show with
the same name, promised he would air the 10th anniversary program from the first town to rename itself in the show’s honor.
32. New York
In New York City, there are fake buildings designed to blend
in with their surroundings and hide subway emergency exits, and maintenance and ventilation points.
33. North Carolina
White Lake is called the “nation’s safest beach” for its clear water, sandy
bottom, and lack of dangerous currents
34. North Dakota
Home to some of the harshest winters and hottest summers, in 1936, locals
saw temperature records on both ends at -60°F in February and 121°F in July.
On April 29, 1879, Cleveland became the first city in the nation, and second in the world, to use electric streetlights.
Tulsan native Gordon Matthews invented and patented voicemail in 1979.
The world’s smallest park resides in Portland. Designated in 1948, Mill Ends Park is a circle, two feet in diameter, with a total area of 452 square inches.
Founded in 1771, The Pennsylvania Packet (now The Philadelphia Inquirer)
was the first daily newspaper in the U.S. and the first to publish George Washington’s Farewell Address.
39. Rhode Island
Erected in 1676, Nine Men’s Misery monument in Cumberland, which honors the colonists lost during King Philip’s War, is the oldest known monument to veterans in the country.
40. South Carolina
Archaeologists unearthed artifacts in Allendale County along the Savannah
River, suggesting humans inhabited the area more than 20,000 years ago, long before the Ice Age.
41. South Dakota
The USS South Dakota (a.k.a. Battleship X) was one of the most decorated battleships in U.S. history, seeing action in every major naval battle during
World War II from 1942-1945.
Camden, famous for pearls cultured in Tennessee River mussels, boasts the only freshwater pearl farm in North America.
Fort Worth’s brave Calvin Graham joined the U.S. Navy at just 12 years old following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart at only age 13.
In 1824, when famed trapper James Bridger first discovered the Great Salt Lake, he believed it to be the Pacific Ocean, due to its size and saltiness. The close to 4.9 billion tons of salt it contains makes the lake almost nine times saltier than the ocean!
In 1885, Jericho farmer Wilson Alwyn “Snowflake” Bentley took the first snowflake photograph, proving no two are alike.
Assateague Island is home to the Chincoteague ponies, one of the last herds of wild horses.
The state contains 10 volcanoes and 3,101 glaciers.
49. West Virginia
In 1824, Ladies’ Garland, one of the first women’s publications in the U. S., was printed in Harpers Ferry.
Sheboygan (a.k.a. the Malibu of the Midwest) has the best freshwater waves in the country. Hundreds of surfers swarm to the annual Corona Dairyland Surf Classic on Labor Day weekend.
Nellie Tayloe Ross served as the first female governor in the US from 1925 to 1927. She went on to become the first female director of the United States Mint in 1933.
Cynthia McMurray is a freelance writer and journalist, and publisher of a national health magazine. She has written books for leading health professionals and is the owner of Write Words, a consulting business for writers. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her article, Animals' Amazing Sense of Direction appears in the 2021 Farmers' Almanac.