How Well Do You Know American Myths and Legends?

By: Weston Whitener
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
How Well Do You Know American Myths and Legends?
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Each question tests your knowledge of American myths, legends, tall tales and even some historical icons, with four possible answers. Do you think you know American mythology?
Who was the giant logging man who could carry a pine tree over his shoulder?
Captain Ahab
Paul Bunyan
Pecos Bill
Burt Lancaster
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Paul Bunyan is a beloved character in Northwestern and Midwestern folklore. He's credited with creating Puget Sound and the Grand Canyon!

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What was the name of Paul Bunyan's bovine companion?
Honey the Yellow Cow
Darling the Green Bull
Babe the Blue Ox
Sweetie the Pale Buffalo
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Very rarely are Paul Bunyan and his trusty helper Babe the Blue Ox shown apart. The legend goes that Babe was blue because she got lost in the great Blue Snow Storm. Paul saved her, and she grew up to be his helper.

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Who was Butch Cassidy's fast companion?
The Canne Ranger
The Sundance Kid
Toronto Jay
Wild Bill
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Harry Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, joined up with Butch Cassidy's gang and entered history. His fate has been lost to history, however; most believe he and Butch died in Bolivia.

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What was Butch Cassidy's gang called?
The Lincoln Boys
The Rough Riders
The Tucker County Hooligans
The Wild Bunch
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Butch and Sundance ran with the Wild Bunch, robbing trains and banks in the twilight years of the American West. The Wild Bunch had one of the longest crime sprees in the era!

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Which president refused to shoot a bound bear?
Theodore Roosevelt
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Jackson
Gerald Ford
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was presented with a captured old bear and refused to shoot it. The act inspired the toy we all know and love: the Teddy Bear.

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How would Paul Revere know if the British were coming by land or sea?
One light in the church tower if by land, two lights if by sea
Two bells tolls from the church tower if by land, three if by sea
Three puffs of chimney smoke if by land, four if by sea
Four cows hitched to a post if by land, five if by sea
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Listen, my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere," begins Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's romantic poem about the silversmith who warned "every Middlesex village and farm" that the British were indeed coming. The facts behind Longfellow's poem are somewhat skewed, but the poem has captured the American imagination for centuries.

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What did Johnny Appleseed wear for a hat?
A boot
A corn cob
A cooking pot
Two little hats
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Johnny Appleseed the legend was never without his cookware! Though the mythical character is mainly fiction, John Chapman did exist, and he did bring apple seeds across the American West!

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What did Johnny Appleseed wear for shoes?
buckskin moccasins
mismatched leather boots
apple seed bags
Johnny Appleseed didn't wear shoes
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Johnny Appleseed must have had tough feet, because he wandered the West without shoes! Sadly, the real John Chapman died of exposure.

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What were Revolutionary War spy Nathan Hale's last words?
"If I die, I die an American."
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
"You may hang me today, but you cannot hang us all."
"King George's last tyranny, my final liberty."
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

When Nathan Hale was hung by the British, it's said he regretted losing one life for his country. It's historically unclear what Hale actually said as he faced death, but the quote will forever be associated with his name.

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What did Hester Prynne have to wear for committing adultery?
A scarlet letter "A"
Sackcloth
A harlot's rouge
A black palm mark
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Nathaniel Hawthorne's great American novel, "The Scarlet Letter," centers on Hester Prynne's refusal to accuse the father of her illegitimate daughter, Pearl. Her Puritan community assigns her the titular shame.

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What was Tom Sawyer's scolding aunt's name?
Auntie Thatcher
Aunt Carrie
Aunt Polly
Aunt Widdow
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Aunt Polly has a lot to deal with. Tom always gets into trouble and never seems to learn from his errors!

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Who were the two con artists who joined Huckleberry Finn and Jim on their journey?
The duke & The king
The dane & The lord
The prince & the pauper
The barron & the tycoon
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Huck and Jim assist with the duke and the king's act, until Huck thwarts their final con. The duke and the king get their names from a game of one-upmanship as they introduce themselves to Huck and Jim, the duke going first and the king going second in defining their great stature.

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Who was the last of the Patuxet Wampanoag natives, who helped the Pilgrims survive in the New World?
Chingachgook
Squanto
Hawkeye
Tonto
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Also known as Tisquantum, Squanto helped save the Plymouth Pilgrims from starvation by showing them how to fertilize their cornfields with fish. He was taken from America and sold into slavery in Spain, taken from there to England and brought back to Cape Cod, where his knowledge of English helped him communicate with the new settlers.

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Who is said to have sewed the first American Flag?
Betsy Ross
Deborah Michael
Rachael Mulligan
Joanne Taylor
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Widowed by the Revolutionary War, Betsy Ross was carrying on her husband's upholstery business when she claimed she was approached by the Founding Fathers to sew the nation's first flag. It was Betsy who insisted on using five-pointed stars rather than six-pointed stars in the design, as she thought they would look better. Whether or not Ross actually did make the first flag has not been historically confirmed.

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What was Mike Fink's famous occupation?
A buffalo rancher
A gunsmith
A keelboatman
A lawyer
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Mike Fink is famous for many things, but his title will remain "king of the keelboatmen." He was also a rough-and-tumble fighter, a marksman and a world-class boaster.

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What prompted George Washington to say, "I cannot tell a lie"?
His father asked George if he had chopped down a cherry tree (which he had).
Benjamin Franklin asked if he was happy to leave the presidency.
Alexander Hamilton asked if he was scared at Valley Forge.
Martha asked if her dress was unflattering.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The story about honesty was a lie! A Washington biographer, eager to earn a profit after the president's death, created the story.

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How did "Wild Bill" Hickok meet his demise?
He was shot in a saloon
He was gored by a buffalo
He was ambushed by Cheyenne
He died of tuberculosis
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker in a Deadwood saloon. Legend has it he held the dead-man's hand, aces and eights, when he was gunned down.

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Who led Lewis and Clark across America?
Cheyenne
Saratoga
Sacagawea
Tuckwilla
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sacagawea guided Meriwether Lewis and William Clark along Shoshone trails and helped them gain safe passage through the western United States. Sacagawea carried her son, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, throughout the journey, usually on her back!

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What king of the wild frontier killed a bear when he was only three?
Johnny Socket
Davy Crockett
Joey Pickett
Franky Rachet
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Davy Crockett, the famous Tennessee backwoodsman, went on to politics! He was elected to Congress multiple times, but his title will remain "King of the Wild Frontier."

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What pinch hitter didn't pull through for the Mudville 9 when he went to bat?
The Great Bambino
The Mighty Casey
Shoeless Joe
Jimmy Blake
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Ernest Lawrence Thayer's comically disappointing poem, "Casey at the Bat," features a beloved baseball player getting struck out. Casey watches the first two pitches go by, then swings and misses at the final pitch to lose the game.

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How did General William Travis supposedly ask his men to stay at the Alamo with him?
He offered each a sip of whiskey; if they accepted, they stayed.
He challenged each to a fist fight; if they won, they stayed.
He drew a line in the sand with his sword; if they stepped across, they stayed.
He cast lots; the men with the short straws stayed.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Though it's likely not true, legend has it that General Travis drew his sword and traced a line in the sand, asking any man willing to sacrifice his life to step across. Davy Crockett was among those who stepped across the line.

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Other cowboys broke horses, but what did Pecos Bill ride?
A tornado
A whale
A thunderbolt
A crocodile
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Pecos Bill performed many feats, but his wrestling a tornado may be his most famous. The legend goes that he broke the Texas twister like a horse!

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What trickster animal matches wits with Br'er Fox, and almost always bests him?
Br'er Rabbit
Br'er Mouse
Br'er Cat
Br'er Dog
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The stories of Br'er Rabbit often involve the trickster outfoxing Br'er Fox. He does so with a variety of methods, perhaps most famously with a "tar baby."

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Who was the "Little Sure Shot" who starred in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show?
Martha Howard
Dakota Jane
Annie Oakley
Felicity Winchester
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Annie Oakley's sharpshooting is the stuff of legend - and probably historical fact. She is said to have shot playing cards edge-wise from thirty paces, dimes tossed in the air, and cigarettes from her husband's lips!

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What famously secret government base is known for UFO sightings?
Area 51
Bunker 52
Charlie 53
Door 54
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Area 51 has been called the most well-known secret facility in America. Conspiracy theories surround the base, including that extraterrestrial technology is being stored there. It's created a modern American mythology around aliens and UFO sightings!

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What Chicago gangster was famous for orchestrating the St. Valentine's Day Massacre?
Al Capone
Buddy Holiday
Johnny Torturro
Fats McFadden
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Al Capone encapsulated the American gangster myth. His character and characture were bigger than life. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929 involved a rivalry between Capone and fellow gangster Bugs Moran.

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What spooky ghoul drove Ichabod Crane out of Sleepy Hollow?
The Night Rider
The Dark Hussar
The Headless Horseman
The Grim Ripper
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The dark Headless Horseman replaced his head with a flaming pumpkin and chased Ichabod Crane out of town. The Headless Horseman is seen in many films and TV shows, and he's Sleepy Hollow High School's mascot!

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What are antlered jackrabbits called?
Rabideer
Jackalopes
Antelfoots
Bigfoots
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Jackalopes have been fabricated by taxidermists since the mid-20th century. The critters are said to live in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, sing during nocturnal thunderstorms, and mate only during flashes of lightning.

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Who beat a steam hammer at laying railroad track, but died doing it?
John Paul
Jack Tiller
Tom Hopper
John Henry
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

John Henry is an African-American folk hero, prophesied to accomplish greatness at the cost of his life. His competition with an heartless machine is poetically wrapped up with his human heart giving out.

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What are the ape-like creatures who walk on two big feet in the Pacific Northwest called?
Fatfoots
Sasquatch
Tuckwillas
Jackalopes
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sasquatch comes from the Coast Salish Indian word "se'sxac," meaning "wild man." The first Bigfoot tracks discovery was made by British explorer David Thompson in 1811, and the hairy creature has captured the popular imagination ever since!

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Which legendary outlaw went by William H. Bonney?
Pat Garrett
Doc Holiday
Billy the Kid
Butch Cassidy
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Billy the Kid had a short, violent life. He had shot and killed a man by the age of 16, lived on the run, and was shot dead by Pat Garrett by the age of 21. He wasn't dubbed "Billy the Kid" until a few months before his death!

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What "gentleman bandit" famously dressed in a white duster and a flour sack with holes cut out for his eyes, and robbed Wells Fargo wagons?
Dapper Dan
Black Bart
White Willy
Dusty Bottoms
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Black Bart was born Charles E. Boles and was famed for his humor and trickery. He's said to have placed funny verses and poems in the empty strongboxes he left behind!

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Who was a legendary guerilla leader in the Apache Wars, eluding armies of thousands in the American Southwest?
Geronimo
Sitting Bull
Crazy Horse
Sacajawea
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Geronimo finally surrendered to General Nelson Miles after a four-month chase across 2,000 miles, and so ended the Apache Wars. He was a celebrity, invited by Theodore Roosevelt to his inauguration and to the St. Louis World's Fair!

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Who combed his hair with a wagon wheel and died of a toothache in his heel?
Davy Crockett
Old Dan Tucker
Fee Fiddley
Little Higginbottom
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The song Old Dan Tucker was a favorite square dance number. It was originally composed by Daniel Decatur Emmett for his minstrel shows.

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Who fell asleep for a little too long, then woke up with a long beard in a new era?
Ichabod Crane
John Snowbeard
Rip Van Winkle
Dopey Dinkle
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Rip Van Winkle appeared in a short story by Washington Irving, who also wrote "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Irving drew on German and English legends in his story of magical sleep, and the revolutionary changes seen in the 18th century.

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