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United States Trivia, Fun Facts and Firsts

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  • Buffalo on the PlainsAmerican bison were once hunted to near-extinction. Only 1,000 remained in 1890, down from 30 million bison less than a century earlier.

  • The tomato was put "on trial" on September 25, 1820 in Salem, New Jersey. In front of a courthouse, Robert Johnson ate a basket of tomatoes to prove they were not poisonous. The crowd waited for him to keel over dead. He never did.

  • Ford Motor Company paid its auto workers $5 per day in 1914.

  • The streets in Virginia City, Nevada, were once unknowingly paved with silver ore. When the locals found out what it was, they tore up the streets in a frenzy in less than 2 days.

  • Before President Trump, our first president, George Washington, was also the wealthiest with assets worth more than $500 million (in today's dollars).

  • Two-thirds of all US $100 bills are held outside the US.

  • The 1962 escape from Alcatraz, the only successful one, is still under investigation by the U.S. Marshals Service.

  • The Library of Congress is keeping an archive of every tweet ever tweeted.

  • Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WyomingThe oldest national park is Yellowstone, Wyoming which was founded in 1872.

  • The Founding Fathers penned the first couple of drafts of the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper, since at the time at least 75 percent of all the world’s paper was made from cannabis hemp fiber.

  • Thomas Jefferson would greet White House guests in his robe and slippers.

  • American Indians were not made citizens of the U.S. until congress acted in 1924.

  • The government is still paying one pension on behalf of a Civil War veteran (to his 85-year-old daughter).

  • Statistically, the deadliest job in America is … President. Of the 45 men who’ve held the post, four have been assassinated in office—a rate of roughly 9 percent (or about one in ten) killed on the job.

  • In 1918 a flu epidemic killed 548,000 people in the U.S.

  • Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair.

  • Christmas was illegal in the U.S. until 1836 as it was considered an Ancient Pagan Holiday.

  • 100 acres of Pizza are served in the U.S. every day.

  • President James Madison weighed less than the average American teenage girl.He was only 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed under 100 pounds.

  • It Costs the Government 1.7 Cents to Mint a Penny

  • John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 – 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

  • The state of Alaska is 429 times larger than the state of Rhode Island, but Rhode Island has a significantly larger population.

  • The term "O.K." is credited to Martin Van Buren who was raised in Kinderhook, New York. After he went into politics, Van Buren became known as "Old Kinderhook." Soon people were using the term O.K. referring to Van Buren and the word "okay" was derived.

  • The Four Corners Monument is the only point in the U.S. shared by four states.

  • 63% of U.S. prison inmates can't read.

  • 80% of the land in Nevada is owned by the U.S. government.

  • America's first slave owner was a black man.

  • Snake Alley, the most crooked street in the world, can be found in Burlington, Iowa.

  • The 30's gangster Machine Gun Kelly gave the FBI the nickname "G-Men."

  • 150 residences in New York City got the first televisions in 1936.

  • James Buchanan was an eternal bachelor. He was the only president never to marry.

  • America’s oldest airport is located in Maryland. It was founded by the Wright brothers in 1909.

  • Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate.

  • Although Ohio is listed as the 17th state in the U.S., it is technically 47th because Congress forgot to vote on a resolution to admit it to the Union until 1953.

  • Grover Cleveland personally answered the White House phone.

  • The first gold rush in the United States happened in Dahlonega, Georgia, 1828.



  • The first program NBC broadcast to them was a cartoon of Felix The Cat!

  • By 1808 a law was set by Congress, this law banned the importing of African slaves into the U.S.

  • George WashingtonGeorge Washington was the only American president to be unanimously elected.

  • There's a town called "Big Ugly" in West Virginia.

  • Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to run against a woman candidate, Virginia Woodhull the nominee of the “Equal Rights Party” in 1872.

  • By law, only dead people can appear on U.S. currency.

  • In Montana, cows out number people 3 to 1.

  • Los Angeles was not as "tall" as other large cites, and sprawls for miles. One reason is that before 1957, there was a law against any building having more than 13 stories. They were afraid of earthquakes. City Hall, built in 1927, was the lone exception.

  • GPS is owned and controlled by the U.S. Government. It can be 'switched off' at any time.

  • One out of every eight Americans have been employed by McDonald's at some point.

  • The only president who was an executioner: Grover Cleveland. As sheriff of Erie County, New York, he hanged a murderer.

  • An estimated one in ten of us could be a blood relative to one of the original 102 pilgrims who arrived aboard the Mayflower in 1620.

  • During Prohibition the government started poisoning beer, which led to thousands of deaths.

  • The lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park. It is 282 ft. below sea level.

  • A South Dakota miner started calling Mount Rushmore by this name after a visiting New York attorney – Charles Rushmore – inquired about the name of the granite cliff. The name stuck and became official in 1930.

  • In 1919, Boston had a molasses disaster. 2 million gallons of crude molasses burst from a tank and pushed its way through the neighborhood and city. It killed at least 21 people and took weeks to clean up.

  • There are three towns in the United States that have the name “Santa Claus“.

  • The world’s tallest roller coaster is Kingda Ka located at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.

  • America is one of the only countries to display their flag almost everywhere.

  • Venus Fly Traps only live in the wild in the Carolinas and nowhere else in the world.

  • Amelia Earhart designed her own line of clothes that were sold all over the United States.

  • Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, everyone knows that. But did you know that he was almost the first man "lost" in space ? He was aboard Gemini 8 when it began spinning out of control while attempting a docking maneuver. Armstrong almost blacked out before correcting the problem.

  • A redwood tree in California has been dubbed the Tallest Living Thing. It is about 367 feet high and resides in Montgomery Woods State Reserve.

  • The North American beaver is the continent’s largest rodent, weighing nearly 60 pounds.

  • Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park, drawing more than 10 million recreational visits each year.

  • The average American spends more than 10 hours a day using an electronic device.

  • In 1893, an amendment was proposed to rename the U.S. into the "United States of the Earth".

  • There is actually a town in Michigan called “Hell“.

  • George Washington was a savvy businessman who owned one of the largest distilleries in 18th century America, and by 1799 alone he was producing 11,000 gallons of whiskey.

  • You don't need to travel out of the country to see one of Egypt's ancient ruins. A 3,000 year old obelisk, named Cleopatra's Needle is located in New York's Central Park. It stands about 66 feet tall, weighs somewhere near 220 tons. It was given as a gift of friendship in 1879. Its "sister" is in London.

  • John F. Kennedy is the only president to have died before his parents.

  • The California grizzly bear is the state's official animal. However, in 1953 when it was named, it had already become extinct. The last known California grizzly to have been seen was killed in 1922.

  • Battle of Bull's Run (Manassas), Virginia, July 21, 1861More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state.

  • The hottest temperature recorded was in Death Valley California on July 10, 1913. It was 134 degrees!

  • The first US capital was New York City.

  • The world’s largest silver nugget was found in Colorado in 1894. It was 1,800-2,000 pounds!

  • The oldest public school was opened in 1635 in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Grand Canyon of the Snake River, Idaho, is deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

  • The United States’ current 50 star flag was designed as a school project by 17 year-old Robert G. Heft. Heft received a B- for his efforts, but his teacher said he would reconsider the grade if Congress accepted Heft’s ostensibly mediocre design. In 1959, that’s precisely what happened, and Heft’s design was selected to be the latest iteration of the American flag. His teacher promptly changed the grade to an A.

  • The only active diamond mine in the US is located in Arkansas.

  • All banks in the U.S. were closed during the week of March 5th - 12th, 1933. This was to keep scared people from taking all their money out.

  • There Are More Breweries in the U.S. Than Anywhere Else in the World.

  • During the Civil War, more soldiers died of disease than they did from gunshots and fighting.

  • Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CaliforniaLong before the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay became a prison, it was used as a military fort. Shortly prior to this, the first light house located on the West Coast was built here in 1854. 

  • According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 140 towns and cities in the U.S. that have the word "Christmas" in their names.

  • According to Kiowa Native American legend, Devils Tower National Monument was created when seven young girls chased by bears jumped on a low rock and prayed for help. The rock rose, lifting the girls out of reach. The bears then scratched deep gouges in the enormous pillar of rock.

  • Boulder City, Nevada, is one of the few places left in the state where gambling is illegal. The government did not want workers on the Hoover Dam to gamble their money away.

  • US Highway 550, near Durango and Silverton, Colorado, is called the Million Dollar Highway because it was paved with low grade gold ore in the road bed.

  • Alaska's Coastline Is Longer than all other 49 State's Coastlines Combined.

  • Jimmy Carter Was the First President Born in a Hospital.

  • New Jersey is home to the world’s highest roller coaster.

  • The deadliest hurricane in the U.S. hit Galveston, Texas, on September 8, 1900. There is no exact count , but estimates are between 6,000 and 10,000 people were killed.

  • Alaska, the biggest state, is 429 times Bigger than the Smallest, Rhode Island.

  • Every Year, the Average American Spends 17 Days Watching Commercials.

  • The oldest capital city in the U.S. is Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded in 1610.

  • The London Bridge, built about 160 years ago in London, was transplanted in 1968 to Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, April, 2017.




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