United States Facts, Trivia, & Firsts

Greetings from Americana Poster designed by Kathy Alexander.

Greetings from Americana Poster, designed by Kathy Alexander.

Buffalo near Bowman, North Dakota by Kathy Alexander.

Buffalo near Bowman, North Dakota, by Kathy Alexander.

American bison were once hunted to near extinction. Only 1,000 remained in 1890, down from 30 million bison less than a century earlier.

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

Each state and territory has its capital.

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

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

The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers are the two longest rivers in the United States.

Two-thirds of all U.S. $100 bills are held outside the U.S.

Times Square in New York City by Carol Highsmith.

Times Square in New York City by Carol Highsmith.

More people live in New York City than in most states.

The United States Air Force is the largest in the world.

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.

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.

There is no official language in the United States. The most commonly spoken language is English, followed by Spanish.

Eight of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were British.

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming by Kathy Alexander.

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming by Kathy Alexander.

The oldest national park is Yellowstone, Wyoming, founded in 1872.

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 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.

The last person to receive a Civil War pension from the United States government was Irene Tripplett, who got a $73 monthly check until her death at 90 in June of 2020. Triplett’s father, Moses, deserted the Confederate army and joined the Union during the Civil War. He was 84 when he fathered Irene.

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

In 1918 a flu epidemic killed 675,000 people in the U.S.

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

Every day, 100 acres of pizza are served in the U.S.

Aerial view of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia by Carol Highsmith.

Aerial view of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, by Carol Highsmith.

The Pentagon is the largest office building in the world, boasting 17 miles of corridors.

Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California, is the largest amphitheater in the world. Opened in 1922, it can hold almost 18,000 people.

44.5% of the land in the U.S. is dedicated to agricultural purposes.

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.

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

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

American flags on 9-11 anniversary by David Fisk.

American flags on the 9-11 anniversary by David Fisk.

One of the 13 articles in the 1781 US Articles of Confederation states that it will automatically be accepted if Canada wants to be admitted into the United States.

Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1,943 feet deep. It is the ninth deepest lake in the entire world.

63% of U.S. prison inmates can’t read.

Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair.

In Alaska, Denali, formerly Mount McKinley, is the highest point in North America, standing at over 20,000 feet.

America’s first slave owner was a black man.

In various polls, the United States was ranked last in overall health care among other wealthy nations.

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

FBI G-Men make an arrest

FBI G-Men make an arrest

The 30’s gangster Machine Gun Kelly gave the FBI the nickname “G-Men.”

Atlantic City, New Jersey, has the world’s longest boardwalk. Built in 1870, it was also the first boardwalk in the United States.

One hundred fifty New York City residents 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.

President Grover Cleveland personally answered the White House phone.

Mount Rushmore, photo by Kathy Alexander.

Mount Rushmore, photo by Kathy Alexander.

During the construction of Mount Rushmore, 800 million pounds of stone were removed.

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

Wild monkeys completely inhabit an island with no human residents located off the coast of South Carolina.

The most populated city in the U.S. is New York City, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago.

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

By 1808 a law was set by Congress; this law banned the importing of enslaved Africans into the U.S.

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

More breakfast cereal is made in Battle Creek, Michigan, than in any other city worldwide.

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

One out of every 10 Americans has been employed by McDonald’s.

There are three towns in the United States with the name “Santa Claus.”

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

In west-central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest-known cave system, with more than 405 miles of surveyed passageways.

President George Washington

President George Washington

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

There’s a town called “Big Ugly” in West Virginia.

The National anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, was written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. The song was adopted as the national anthem in 1931.

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

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

The U.S. government owns 80% of the land in Nevada.

In Montana, cows outnumber people 3 to 1.

Los Angeles is not as “tall” as other large cities and sprawls for miles. One reason is that before 1957, there was a law against buildings with more than 13 stories. They were afraid of earthquakes. City Hall, built in 1927, was the lone exception.

The only president who was an executioner was 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.

Repeal the Prohibition Amendment

Repeal the Prohibition Amendment

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 feet 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 granite cliff’s name. The name stuck and became official in 1930.

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

According to the World Giving Index, the United States is the most generous country in the world, based on a tally of charitable donations, volunteer hours, and a track record of reaching out to help others.

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

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

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart designed her own line of clothes sold throughout 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 Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park, drawing more than 10 million recreational visits yearly.

The average American spends more than 10 hours using an electronic device daily.

John Kennedy Press Conference

John Kennedy Press Conference

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

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

There is 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.

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 first U.S. capital was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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

The first face on The $1 bill was not George Washington. First issued during the Civil War in 1862, it was the face of Salmon P. Chase, who was Secretary of Treasury then and the designer of the country’s first banknotes.

Battle of Bull's Run (Manassas), Virginia, July 21, 1861

Battle of Bull’s Run (Manassas), Virginia, July 21, 1861

More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state.

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.

The Grand Canyon of the Snake River in 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.

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, and weighs somewhere near 220 tons. It was given as a gift of friendship in 1879. Its “sister” is in London.

The only active diamond mine in the U.S. is located in Arkansas.

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California by Kathy Alexander.

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California by Kathy Alexander.

Long before the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay became a prison, it was used as a military fort. Shortly before this, the first lighthouse on the West Coast was built in 1854.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 140 towns and cities in the U.S. with the word “Christmas” in their names.

According to a Kiowa Native American legend, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming 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 where gambling is illegal in the state. The government did not want workers at the Hoover Dam to gamble their money away.

Alaska’s coastline is longer than all other 49 states’ coastlines combined.

President Abraham Lincoln created the Secret Service on the very day of his assassination,

Badwater Basin in Death Valley by Kathy Alexander.

Badwater Basin in Death Valley by Kathy Alexander.

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

All banks in the U.S. were closed during 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.

More soldiers died of disease than they did from gunshots and fighting during the Civil War.

Jimmy Carter was the first president born in a hospital.

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

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard was the first university In the United States.

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.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The word “Pennsylvania” is misspelled on the Liberty Bell.

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, England, was transplanted in 1968 to Lake Havasu, Arizona.


Compiled by Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated January 2023.

Also See:

American History

Presidential Trivia, Fun Facts & Firsts

United States Geography

U.S. States


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