The United States truly is a marvel, and each state has its own traditions, history and customs that make them stand out. Then again, there are some things that are downright strange. We continue our astonishing list of weird state facts:
Louisiana. Louisiana is home to the longest continuous bridge over a body of water in the world. The Second Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is nearly 24 miles long and connects the towns of Metairie (just outside New Orleans) and Mandeville. For eight of those miles, you can’t see land at all.
Maine. There is a “desert” in Maine – a 40-acre parcel of land in Freeport, Maine that is all sand and silt. The Desert of Maine is the result of ancient glacier residue and over-farming the land which caused the soil to erode. You can actually camp in the desert, which is surrounded by the more recognizable coniferous forests.
Maryland. Founded in 1727, the Maryland Gazette is the oldest continuously published newspaper still in existence in the U.S. In 1910, it merged with the newspaper The Capital and has been printed under that name ever since.
Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, burritos are not legally sandwiches. In 2006, Panera Bread took Qdoba Mexican Grill to court over a leasing dispute in Worcester, MA. Panera’s lease stated that there couldn’t be another sandwich shop in the strip mall. After hearing both sides (and testimony from food experts), the judge ruled that a sandwich is made of two pieces of bread as opposed to the one tortilla needed to make a burrito.
Michigan. Michigan is the only non-contiguous state in the lower 48. It is made up of two peninsulas, separated by the Straits of Mackinac. It also is the only state that borders four of the five Great Lakes, and has the longest shoreline in the U.S. outside of Alaska.
Minnesota. In Minneapolis, you can get around downtown without ever going outside, thanks to the Minneapolis Skyway System. The covered pedestrian walkways connect buildings over 80 blocks of shops, restaurants, and other businesses so you can stay warm during the cold winter months.
Mississippi. When you buy a pair of shoes, you can thank Mississippi for it. The first store to sell shoes in pairs was Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1884.
Missouri. St. Louis hosted the 1904 Summer Olympics. It also happens to be the weirdest Olympics ever held. Only 12 countries participated, and the games lasted over five months due to some confusion with the St. Louis State Fair. The oddest event was the marathon. One runner was chased out of the marathon by a pack of dogs, while the "winner" hitched a ride on a car for most of the race. It was also the first time that gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
Montana. Montana holds the record for the most dramatic temperature change to occur over a 24-hour period. In Loma, the temperature rose from -54˚F to 49˚F on January 15, 1972.
Nebraska. This is for those who are still truly kids at heart: Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings, Nebraska, by Edwin Perkins in 1927, and the drink became the official state soft drink of Nebraska in 1998. There’s even an annual festival held there each August to honor the drink mix, called Kool-Aid Days.
Nevada. There is a self-proclaimed independent country located in the heart of Nevada. Founded in 1977 by Kevin Baugh, the Republic of Molossia is known as a micronation — complete with its own currency, a postal service, space program, and president. It’s population is 34 (30 people and 4 dogs), and you can visit it between April and October. While you don’t technically need a passport to enter, you might want to bring it to get stamped.
New Hampshire. For all those rebels who hate wearing seatbelts, you’ll be happy to know that New Hampshire is the only state that does not have a mandatory seat belt law. Even so, about 70% of adults still wear their seatbelts – though that is far below the national average of 90%.
New Jersey. New Jersey is the only place in the United States where it is illegal to pump your own gas. The Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act and Regulations was established in 1949 to protect the public from fire hazards sometimes associated with pumping fuel and has not been taken off the books.
New Mexico. Santa Fe is the nation’s highest capital. At 7,199 feet above sea level, it’s higher than Denver. Santa Fe is also the oldest state capital, dating back to 1610 – ten years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.
New York. New York was the first state to require license plates on cars, starting in 1901. There was a catch, however. The plates were not issued by the state but were made by the owner and were required to have the owner's initials. Plates were made of leather, felt, or metal, and no two were alike. This was inefficient and by 1909 the state started issuing its own license plates.
North Carolina. Pepsi was invented in New Bern, NC in 1893 by a drugstore clerk named Caleb Bradham. He originally named it “Brad’s Drink.” He was a doctor in training at the time and believed his syrupy concoction aided digestion. He re-named it “Pepsi-Cola” in 1898 after the word “dyspepsia.”
North Dakota. The geographic center of North America is located in Rugby, North Dakota. It's marked by a rock obelisk, about 15 feet tall, flanked by poles flying the US and Canadian flags. They even changed the town seal to an outline of North America!
Stay tuned for our last installment of little-known state facts, which are sure to amaze!
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