True Things We Didn’t Know About States Until We Visited Them

We left the Texas Hill Country on June 19th on a roadtrip through the South. On our 28th day (We’re in Oklahoma City), we sharing some interesting facts about each state we’ve learned along the way.

Louisiana

Louisiana has the longest coastline (15,000 miles) of any other state in the U.S.

Louisiana makes up approximately 41% of the wetlands in the U.S.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at 23.83 miles in Metairie is the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed (Bonnie struck 53 times and Clyde struck 51 times) by Louisiana and Texas state police near Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Bonnie was married to another man and never divorced him. The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland, Louisiana, is located a few miles away from their death site.

In 1977, Luisa Harris, the only woman in U.S. history to officially be drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA), was drafted by the New Orleans Jazz basketball team.

In 2010, the world’s record for the largest pot of gumbo was set by award-winning chef, John David Folse. The pot served 10,000 people. It contained 50 pounds of white crab meat, 85 pounds of oysters, 100 pounds of crab claws, 200 pounds of alligator meat, 450 pounds of catfish, and 750 pounds of shrimp.

Mississippi

In 1963 the University of Mississippi Medical Center accomplished the world’s first human lung transplant and, on January 23, 1964, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world’s first heart transplant surgery.

In 1902 while on a hunting expedition in Sharkey County, President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear. This act resulted in the creation of the world-famous teddy bear.

In 1884 the concept of selling shoes in boxes in pairs (right foot and left foot) occurred in Vicksburg at Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor on Washington Street.

Guy Bush of Tupelo was one of the most valuable players with the Chicago Cubs. He was on the 1929 World Series team and Babe Ruth hit his last home run off a ball pitched by Bush.

Root beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.

Tennessee

There are more horses per capita in Shelby County than any other county in the United States.

Davy Crockett was not born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, as the song says. He was born on the banks of Limestone Creek near Greeneville, where a replica of the Crockett’s log cabin stands today.

David Crockett

The capitol building was designed by noted architect William Strickland, who died during its construction and is buried within its walls.

Tennessee ranks number one among other states in the total number of soldiers who fought in the War Between the States.

The name “Tennessee” originated from the old Yuchi Indian word, “Tana-see,” meaning “The Meeting Place.”

Coca-Cola was first bottle in 1899 at a plant on Patten Parkway in downtown Chattanooga after two local attorneys purchased the bottling rights to the drink for $l.00.

Cumberland University, located in Lebanon, lost a football game to Georgia Tech on October 7, 1916 by a score of 222 to 0. The Georgia Tech coach was George Heisman for whom the Heisman Trophy is named.

Alabama

In 2004, Chad Fell of Haleyville was certified by the Guinness World Records for blowing the World’s Largest Bubblegum Bubble, Unassisted (without use of his hands) at Double Springs High School in Winston County. He used three pieces of Dubble Bubble gum.

In October of 1989, residents of Fort Payne built a cake to celebrate the city’s centennial. The 12-layer cake was 32 feet wide and 80 feet long and weighed 128,238 pounds. It was certified by Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Cake.

The country’s first 911 call was made on February 16, 1968, in Haleyville. Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite went to City Hall and called U.S. Representative Tom Bevill, who was at the local police station. The red phone used is on display in City Hall.

The actors who portrayed Goober and Gomer, fictional cousins on the Andy Griffith Show, were both born in Alabama. Jim Nabors, “Gomer,” was born in 1930 in Sylacauga. He died Nov. 30, 2017. George Lindsey, “Goober,” was born in 1928 in Fairfield. He died in 2012.

Virginia

About 1/2 of all the people in the United States live within a 500 mile radius of the Capital of Virginia.

Over 1/2 the battles fought in the civil war were fought in Virginia. Over 2,200 of the 4,000 battles.

The first Thanksgiving in North America was held in Virginia in 1619.

Yorktown is the site of the final victory of the American Revolution.

The first English colony in America was located on Roanoke Island. Walter Raleigh founded it. The colony mysteriously vanished with no trace except for the word “Croatoan” scrawled on a nearby tree.

Mount Mitchell in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. It towers 6,684 feet above sea level.

Washington D.C.

Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams had pet alligators in the White House.

To date, nobody has beat Jimmy Carter’s record of watching 480 movies in the White House movie theater.

Washington DC is missing “J” Street. It uses letters for streets traveling east to west. But numbers are also used for streets. I was told it’s because “J” and “I” look too similar on street signs.

There’s a crypt under the Capitol building that was made for George Washington. Although he was not buried there, the crypt still exists; they also had a viewing chamber built so people could go by and see him.

John Adams was actually the first president to live in the White House. George Washington never lived there; it was built after he died.

There are 35 bathrooms in the White House. There are also 132 rooms and 6 levels in the residence. Even more staggering are the 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.

There’s only one U.S. president buried in Washington D.C. Woodrow Wilson is entombed at Washington National Cathedral.

Missouri

The first successful parachute jump to be made from a moving airplane was made by Captain Berry at St. Louis, in 1912.

The most destructive tornado on record occurred in Annapolis. In 3 hours, it tore through the town on March 18, 1925 leaving a 980-foot wide trail of demolished buildings, uprooted trees, and overturned cars. It left 823 people dead and almost 3,000 injured.

At the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, Richard Blechyden, served tea with ice and invented iced tea.

Also, at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, the ice cream cone was invented. An ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a waffle vendor to help by rolling up waffles to hold ice cream.

The Arch has foundations sunken 60 feet into the ground, and is built to withstand earthquakes and high winds. It sways up to one inch in a 20 mph wind, and is built to sway up to 18 inches.

The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.

During Abraham Lincoln’s campaign for the presidency, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat named Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri, swore that he would never shave again if Abe were elected. Tapley kept his word and his chin whiskers went unshorn from November 1860 until he died in 1910, attaining a length of twelve feet six inches.

Situated within a day’s drive of 50% of the U.S. population, Branson and the Tri-Lakes area serves up to 65,000 visitors daily. Branson has been a “rubber tire” destination with the vast majority of tourists arriving by vehicles, RVs and tour buses. Branson has also become one of America’s top motor coach vacation destinations with an estimated 4,000 buses arriving each year.

Indiana

The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871.

Santa Claus, Indiana receives over one half million letters and requests at Christmas time.

Deep below the earth in Southern Indiana is a sea of limestone that is one of the richest deposits of top-quality limestone found anywhere on earth. New York City’s Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center as well as the Pentagon, the U.S. Treasury, a dozen other government buildings in Washington D.C. as well as 14 state capitols around the nation are built from this sturdy, beautiful Indiana limestone.

In 1934 Chicago Gangster John Dillinger escaped the Lake Country Jail in Crown Point by using a “pistol” he had carved from a wooden block.

Comedian Red Skelton, who created such characters as Clem Kadiddlehopper, and Freddie the Freeloader, was born in Vincennes.

Arkansas

Alma claims to be the Spinach Capital of the World, but Texas knows Crystal City really is.

A person from Arkansas is called an Arkansan.

The state contains six national park sites, two-and-a half million acres of national forests, seven national scenic byways, three state scenic byways, and 50 state parks.

North Carolina

The Venus Fly-Trap is native to Hampstead.

The first miniature golf course was built in Fayetteville.

Babe Ruth hit his first home run in Fayetteville on March 7, 1914.

North Carolina has the largest state-maintained highway system in the United States. The state’s highway system currently has 77,400 miles of roads.

West Virginia

On January 26, 1960 Danny Heater, a student from Burnsville, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Nearly 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.

Outdoor advertising had its origin in Wheeling about 1908 when the Block Brothers Tobacco Company painted bridges and barns with the wording: “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.”

Bailey Brown, the first Union solider killed in the Civil War, died on May 22, 1861, at Fetterman, Taylor County.

The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston, West Virginia, on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.

Oklahoma

Boise City, Oklahoma was the only city in the United States to be bombed during World War II. On Monday night, July 5, 1943, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a B-17 Bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base (50 miles to the south of Boise City) dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping town.

Sooners is the name given to settlers who entered the Unassigned Lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma before the official start of the Land Rush of 1889.

The world’s first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935. Carl C. Magee, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is generally credited with originating the parking meter. He filed for a patent for a “coin controlled parking meter” on May 13, 1935.

During a tornado in Ponca City, a man and his wife were carried aloft in their house by a tornado. The walls and roof were blown away. But the floor remained intact and eventually glided downward, setting the couple safely back on the ground.

Bob Dunn a musician from Beggs invented the first electric guitar in 1935.

Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state, with over one million surface acres of water.

Kentucky

Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaolin’s restaurant in Louisville.

Chevrolet Corvettes are manufactured in Bowling Green.

Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.

The song “Happy Birthday to You” was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.

Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. Their son Isaac is buried at Blue Licks Battlefield near Carlisle, where he was killed in the last battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Kentucky.

Boone Gravesite

The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.

The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years before Marconi made his claim to the invention.

Joe Bowen holds the world record for stilt walking endurance. He walked 3,008 miles on stilts between Bowen, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California.

Miscellaneous

The most fun Dodie and I have experienced so far was riding the mile long Branson Sawmill Coaster. We were able to control the speed of our individual coaster pods.

History Travel Log

Texans Jack & Dodie View All →

Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Music
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Actors
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Space Explorers
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
Notables
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.

As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.

He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.

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