We’ve recently shared with you the prettiest towns in every state and the weirdest laws each state has on the books, but there is still so much to discover about the wildly diverse local histories and cultures unique to each state. Things are always happening in every corner of the country and we rarely find out about some of the more unique happenings until much later, if at all. For instance, did you know that thieves continuously stole mile marker 420 in Colorado until, after much frustration and probably many eye rolls, the state decided to place a mile marker 419.99 in its place instead? Well played, Colorado.
The United States is riddled with random facts that likely won’t serve much purpose outside of winning trivia games, but it’s still interesting to discover that Wisconsin is responsible for splinter-free toilet paper (how scary would paper with splinters be?); that a coal mine has been burning below the surface of a town in Pennsylvania for 50 years, driving out almost all residents, save for seven; and that Louisiana is home to the world’s longest continuous bridge over water at 24 miles long. Check out the rest of our list to find out what strange facts lurk in the history of the remaining 46 U.S. states.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama, is where lost luggage goes to be reborn. It is organized by department — women’s, men’s, formal wear, electronics, books, fine jewelry, footwear, and of course luggage — to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for in the 40,000-square-foot store.
If you live in the small towns of Supai and Phantom Town deep in the Grand Canyon, a mule will bring you your mail. The Havasupai tribe lives in this area, and visitors are allowed (upon acceptance) to stay with the tribe overnight. The area is also home to one of America’s beautiful secret swimming holes.
If you find a diamond while scouring the field at the Crater of Diamonds, you are allowed to keep the gem. If you are serious about your search, the center rents out mining tools that you can use. The colors of the diamonds you’ll likely find here include white, brown, and yellow. This is the only diamond mine in the country.
It may surprise many to discover that fortune cookies were actually invented in the Golden State. There has been much debate over whether or not it was created by Bekyodo Bakery in San Francisco or by David Jung’s Hong Kong Noodle Company in Los Angeles. Although the Court of Historical Review sided with San Francisco on the matter, LA denounced the ruling. Regardless of which side you’re on, it’s safe to note the cookie was indeed invented in California.
After the continuous theft of Colorado’s mile marker 420, the state decided to thwart thieves by replacing it with a mile marker of 419.99.
Considering Hawaii has an entire food festival dedicated to spam, it may not shock you to know that Hawaiians eat more spam than any other state in America.
Until 1969, the official language of Illinois was technically “American” as opposed to English. This was set into law in 1923 when Representative Washington J. McCormick was trying to make “American” the country’s official language, and even though it failed as a bill on the national level, he was able to convince the congressmen of Illinois to make the change.
Until 2003, Maine’s town of Strong was the Toothpick Capital of the World, creating 90 percent of the country’s supply. However, all factories have since closed down, and the town no longer makes any toothpicks.
If you own a toilet in Maryland (and we really hope you do) you’re being taxed $2.50 a month for that luxury.
Michigan is the only state in the country made up of two peninsulas — the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula — with the Straits of Mackinac separating the two. Due to this unique geography, it also has the longest freshwater coastline in the world.
The world can thank Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor in Mississippi for making the already difficult process of buying shoes somewhat easier by selling them in pairs. What now seems obvious to most was not the norm before 1884.
Missouri is home to over 6,000 caves, so it’s no wonder why it’s also known as the Cave State.
When you wake up to those pestering alarm clock sounds every morning, you can roll over and thank Levi Hutchins for getting you up. In 1787 he invented the first alarm clock in New Hampshire.
The first atomic bomb was tested in the Jornado del Muerto desert of New Mexico in 1945. Years later the site where this turning point in history took place became a National Historic Landmark.
North Carolina has long been deemed the Furniture Capital of the World. The High Point Market furniture exhibition is held here twice a year, bringing thousands of industry professionals from all over the world.
Although North Dakota has 13 state parks, the state is the least visited of all in America. Most of those who do end up traveling to the state are in the oil industry.
Due to the high levels of chemical pollution in Ohio’s Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, the river has caught fire a total of 13 times since 1868.
Leave it to Portland to have the world’s smallest park. At two feet wide and only 452 square inches, Mill Ends Park is part of a median strip in the city’s downtown area.
In the town of Centralia, a coal mine fire from 50 years ago is still burning underground. Due to the fire — which has been burning through the town for all of these years — Centralia has lost a majority of its residents, with only 7 people remaining as of 2013. This Pennsylvania ghost town even lost its postal ZIP code in 2002.
To celebrate the potato crop, the small town of Clark, South Dakota hosts Potato Day. On this day guests can take part in events such as a Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest and a Potato Dish Cooking Contest.
The bubbly beverage Mountain Dew was invented in Tennessee by two bottlers. The name was once a term referencing whiskey, but was eventually trademarked as the official name for this carbonated beverage.
You’ll find the highest posted speed limit in the country as you drive through Texas from San Antonio to Georgetown. With a posted limit of 85 miles per hour, Texas State Highway 130 is the only road you’ll legally be able to travel at such a high speed.
In Virginia, amusement parks determine the academic calendar for summer. In 1986 the Kings Dominion Law was passed that says schools cannot begin before Labor Day. It was created to bring more money to the state by way of the tourism industry.
Mount St. Helens is likely the most well-known volcano in Washington, but it is actually only one of 10 that line the western part of the state.
background:white">Three men from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, can be credited for producing the first commercially successful typewriter in 1868. If you don’t find that fact interesting enough, you should know that the first splinter-free toilet paper was also created in Wisconsin.