Article: 25 Obscure Facts About the Southern United States: HowStuffWorks
25 Obscure Facts About the Southern United States
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About This Article
The Southern United States has quite a history that dates back to well before the United States was even a thing. There were many native people living across the area that is now considered the South, from Seminole to Mississippian to Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw. When Europeans began to colonize North America, it was in the South that many first began to settle. And not just the English either, the Spanish and French both made their homes in places like Florida and Louisiana. So there's a rich history there from many different cultures that still have some influence today.
While most schoolkids have a general understanding of the South from history class where we all learned about the Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, there's just so much more that goes on we're missing out on. History classes only have time to teach us some of the big facts while the smaller, more obscure stuff often gets pushed aside. Is there room to teach you about the feral ponies that live on Assateague Island off the coast of Virginia and how they swim from one island to another every year? Probably not. But it's still interesting to know. There are many more fun, weird facts like that, too. If you want to know some more, then bless your heart and have a look over yonder at 25 we rustled up for you.
How many barrels in Kentucky?
95% of the bourbon in the world comes from Kentucky. There's so much bourbon in Kentucky that there are actually just about 2 whole barrels for every single citizen in the state. With about 4.3 million people there, that equals a heck of a lot of barrels.
Home of the Venus Fly Trap
The world's most famous carnivorous plant is the Venus fly trap. Though you can find a few small populations of the plant in Florida, it's almost exclusively found in North and South Carolina and nowhere else. The plant is so in demand that it's often at risk from poachers.
Check your bags in Alabama.
Ever wonder what happens to all those bags that go missing at airports? They end up at Alabama's "Unclaimed Baggage Center" where you can go and buy whatever unfortunate travelers lost and never found again. What happens to the embarrassing things people pack? Good question.
The most popular house in Tennessee
The one-time home of Elvis Presley, known as Graceland, is the second most visited house in all of the United States. The only house that gets more visitors in a year is the White House. Over 20 million people have made the trip to Graceland. Hail to the King, baby!
Florida is swampier than you thought.
According to the US Geological Survey, there are about 11.4 million acres of wetland in the state of Florida. That works out to just slightly under 30% of the entire state. That's bigger than the entire state of Maryland.
Arkansas has big diamonds.
Usually, you don't think of the U.S. at all when you think of mining diamonds, but there are some mines, particularly in Arkansas. In fact, the most valuable diamond ever discovered in the U.S. came from Crater of Diamonds State Park and was worth a cool million.
Here be monsters!
You know how Scotland has the Loch Ness Monster? Well, South Carolina has a monster, too. Supposedly located in Lake Murray, the monster has been nicknamed "Messie" and there have been numerous sightings over the years.
It does a body good.
Louisiana is home to New Orleans and Mardi Gras which is one of the biggest parties in the world. Though millions will be spent on alcohol during that celebration, the official state drink of Louisiana is as mild as a drink can get -- milk.
Africa meets Alabama
250 million years ago, North America and Africa were joined together as part of a supercontinent. Time has shifted those two land masses to where they sit on the map currently, but evidence still remains. In 2014, geologists discovered rock under Alabama and Georgia that they believe was once part of Africa.
Everything really is bigger in Texas.
Texas is not just one of the largest states in the U.S., it's one of the most powerful economically, too. Texas has a GDP of $1.7 trillion. If it were a country, it would have the 10th largest GDP in the world, just edging out Canada and beating South Korea, Russia and Australia.
There's an island of monkeys!
Do you know about Morgan Island? It's just off the coast of South Carolina and is home to around 3,500 monkeys. The colony of rhesus macaques is free on the island and no humans live there or are permitted to visit. 1,400 monkeys were transported there in 1979 for research purposes and have thrived ever since.
If you like sweet potato pie, you'll like this.
Though sweet potatoes are native to Central or South America (it's hard to say for sure) they have taken root very well in North Carolina. In fact, the state produces 60% of all the sweet potatoes in America on 95,000 acres of land.
Teddy bears are from Mississippi.
The story of the teddy bear is a curious one. According to legend, President Teddy Roosevelt once refused to kill a trapped bear on a hunting trip somewhere near Onward, Mississippi. A local shopkeeper heard the story and created the stuffed bear in honor of the president, giving rise to the name "teddy bear."
The Land O' Lakes
Do you think of lakes when you think of Oklahoma? Well, maybe you should. Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state in the U.S. There are over 200 lakes that have been created by dams, including Lake Texoma which clocks in at 89,000 acres.
What West Virginia almost was
If you think West Virginia isn't the most creative name for a state, you should know that it was voted on from several choices. Other options on the table for West Virginia included Allegheny, Augusta, Kanawha, Vandalia and New Virginia.
There are mountain shrimp!
If you ever visit Georgia, you should check out Stone Mountain. At an elevation of 1,683 feet up you'll find some pools that contain live shrimp. There are two types - fairy shrimp and clam shrimp. They will appear when rain fills their pools, and when they dry out the shrimp can remain dormant for years until the rain comes again.
The Oklahoma state meal
Every state has an official state food that often celebrates some favorite local ingredients. Oklahoma is the only state that went all out to create an official state meal. If you want to eat like an Oklahoman, you need to indulge in BBQ pork, squash, fried okra, sausage and gravy, biscuits, corn, chicken-fried steak, black-eyed peas, cornbread, grits, strawberries and pecan pie. You may want to buy some Tums.
Home of turducken
No food is quite as epic as the mighty turducken. A turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken is one of the craziest foods ever devised. And who did devise such a thing? Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme has taken credit for the poultry powerhouse.
Crocs and gators
A lot of people have a hard time distinguishing the difference between crocodiles and alligators. This must be a lot harder in parts of Southern Florida, where the two animals actually live together. It's the only place on Earth you'll find them together, too.
Tennessee is really into music.
Every state has an official state song, but the folks in Tennessee love music so much they couldn't settle on just one song. Or two. Or five. There are 10 official state songs in Tennessee, including "My Homeland Tennessee," "Tennessee Waltz," and "Smoky Mountain Rain."
Catfish is pretty popular on a lot of menus in the South, but if you weren't sure where it all came from, wonder no more. Mississippi is home to more catfish than you can shake a stick at. There are over 100,000 acres of catfish farms in the state.
The caves of Kentucky
Below the surface of Kentucky, there is a system of caves more extensive than any you'll find anywhere else in the world. There have been over 3,400 miles of cave mapped so far and there's still more to go.
There are some unique laws
Every place you go is going to have some laws that are unique to the area, probably. Most laws are fairly reasonable and maybe even common sense. Not all, though. According to a law passed in 1881, you can be prosecuted in Arkansas for pronouncing the name of the state with an emphasis on the second syllable.
Hope you like cake!
King Cakes are a staple of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so much so that 500,000 of them will be sold during Mardi Gras every single year. At around $30 a cake, that's a lot of sweet treats to go with all the beads being tossed around.
Everyone could live in Texas.
New York City has a population density of 27,000 people per square mile. At that density, if someone wanted to take on history's most intense urban planning project, the entire population of the Earth, around 7.5 billion people, could fit into the state of Texas.
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