Facts About US States That Make Out-Of-Towners Say 'What?!'

List Rules
Vote up all the state facts that seriously surprise you.

The 50 states that comprise the US all differ. They each have their own unique facts to brag about - like being the native home to Venus flytraps, having the longest coastline, or having the only diamond mine in the country. Some facts, however, are not as fun to talk about, leaving some states ashamed of what happened in the past.

  • After the secession of Virginia, a convention of delegates from western Virginia met in Wheeling in 1861 to discuss forming the "State of Kanawha," which would incorporate 39 counties. The name was to honor a Native American tribe and a major river that ran through the state with the same name.

    However, when the constitution for the proposed state was finalized in 1862, the name was changed to West Virginia. 

    75 votes
  • Missouri Banned Mormons Until 1976
    Photo: 101heather / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    After the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, Mormons were not allowed in the state for 138 years, due to the state's Extermination Order set by Governor Lilburn Boggs, stating that Mormons must be "exterminated or driven from the state." According to John Lawson, who works for the Mormon Church as director of the Springfield Institute of Religion, many members of the faith believed it was legal to kill a Mormon during the Extermination Order, but this was not the case.

    In 1838 parlance, the word exterminate primarily meant to "force to leave an area." In 1976, Missouri Governor Kit Bond officially apologized to Mormons on behalf of all Missourians, and rescinded Boggs's infamous mandate.

    84 votes
  • In 2007, two lawmakers - Democratic State Rep. Joe Dorman and Republican State Sen. Don Barrington - sponsored House Bill 1669, which proposed adding a new section to the Oklahoma Statutes, declaring that “The watermelon is hereby designated and adopted as the official vegetable of the State of Oklahoma.”

    In March of 2021, the House passed the bill 78-19, and the Senate did so in a 44-2 vote. Oklahoma Governor Brad Harry signed the bill into law in April of 2021, and as of May 2021, Sec. 25-98.15 of the Oklahoma Statutes adopted the wording Dorman and Barrington had hoped for. (We're unsure how so many policymakers were OK with labeling something so clearly a fruit as a vegetable.)

    98 votes
  • No matter how you measure it, Alaska has the longest coastline in the US. With more than 2,600 islands, Alaska has 6,640 miles of coastline and - including its islands - 33,904 miles of shoreline. The estimated tidal shoreline, which includes islands, inlets, and shoreline to head of tidewater, is 47,300 miles. This abundance of coastline is longer than all other 49 states combined.

    Alaska is the only state that borders two different oceans, with coastline facing the northern Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Arctic Ocean.

    63 votes
  • The first American gas station opened in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1913. Also the world's first drive-in gas station, it sat at the intersection of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in the city's East Liberty neighborhood. At the time, the station opened without much attention and was viewed as a minor achievement. However, after it was renamed "Gulf Oil," it sold 30 gallons of fuel its first day, at 27 cents per gallon. The station offered free water, air, and road maps, and had employees present 24 hours a day.

    By 1917, a total of seven gas stations existed in Pennsylvania, and by 1920, 15,000 gas stations were pumping nationwide. By the end of the 1920s, there were approximately 200,000 - more than the 156,000 in existence today.

    52 votes
  • More than 100 million years ago, the land that is now Murfreesboro, AR, was covered by sea. As the years went on and the land faced natural disasters, a stream of magma ripped large pieces of rock from the Earth's mantle and transported them to the surface. This created diamonds that continue to be mined in Arkansas.

    The locale was a commercial diamond mine in the early 1900s, but closed after it was deemed sub-economic. It is now incorporated into Crater of Diamonds State Park, where visitors can enjoy activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and - for a small fee - hunting for diamonds they can take home.

    72 votes