215 years ago today, Kentucky was admitted as the 15th state in the Union.
35 fun facts about Kentucky:
1. Kentucky is called the "Bluegrass State" because it is rife with a type of grass that is thick, lush, and deep green. From a distance, when the angles are right and the grass is in bloom, it looks dark blue.
2. It is unclear exactly where the state's name comes from -- most agree it is based on a Native American word, but there are many theories about just what this word was, and what it meant.
3. Kentucky borders 7 states and has 120 counties.
4. Kentucky's Lake Cumberland is the largest lake by volume east of the Mississippi River.
5. Kentucky's Mammoth Cave is the largest cave in the world. First promoted in 1816, it is the second oldest official tourist attraction in the U.S., behind Niagra Falls.
6. Both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederate States) were born in Western Kentucky, less than 1 year and 100 miles apart.
Abe Lincoln's Birthplace
7. Kentucky was originally part of Virginia, known as Kentucky County, Virginia.
8. The central star on the Confederate flag represented Kentucky, even though Kentucky never officially seceeded from the Union.
9. Kentucky governor William Goebel is the only governor in U.S. history to be assassinated (1900).
10. Kentucky is historicaly democratic in terms of political leanings. In 2006, only 35% of Kentuckians were registered as Republicans, as compared to 57% registered as Democrats. Be that as it may, Kentucky has voted strongly Republican, both at the state and federal levels, since 2000.
11. 91% of Kentuckians are white.
12. 33% of Kentuckians are affiliated with evangelical Protestant churches, the largest of any group. However, 46% claim no relgious affiliation.
13. Bourbon whiskey was invented in Georgetown, Kentucky by Baptist preacher Elijah Craig in the late 1700's. Craig also helped found Georgetown College (my alma mater).
Georgetown College, Kentucky
14. As of 2007, Bourbon County is dry. Christian County is wet. Barren County has the most fertile land in the state.
15. The Toyota plant in Georgetown makes every Toyota Camry driven in the United States.
16. 51% of Kentuckians live in either Louisville, Lexington, or Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati metro area).
17. The widest portion of the Ohio River is at Louisville - in one spot, it is nearly a mile wide.
18. Berea College was the first co-ed southern college to permit both blacks and whites, doing so from its inception in 1855.
19. Every Corvette driven in the world is made in Bolwing Green, Kentucky.
20. State Bird: Cardinal. State Flower: Goldenrod.
21. Thunder Over Louisville, a fireworks show kicking off the annual 2-week Derby Day festivities, is the largest annual fireworks show in the world.
Thunder Over Louisville, 2007
22. The two largest rivers in North American - the Missisippi and the Ohio - converge near Wickliffe, Kentucky.
23. Kentucky is the only state in the U.S. with part of its contiguous border cut off from the rest of the state. The Kentucky Bend area, in extreme Western Kentucky, was separated from the rest of the state during the New Madrid Earthquake of 1812. As such, this area, with an official population of 17, is completely surrounded now by Missouri and Tennessee. A portion of Missouri cuts it off completely from Kentucky by about 4 miles.
24. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, most of Kentucky was unsettled by Native Americans. Rather, the area was a hunting ground for Shawnee and Cherokee tribes farther north.
25. The first permanent American settlement in Kentucky was Harrodstown (now called Harrodsburg), settled in 1774.
26. The first cheesburger ever served at a restaurant was served at Kaolin's, in Louisville, in 1934.
27. The first commercial oil well in the U.S. was in McCreary County, Kentucky, 1819.
28. The Happy Birthday Song was composed by two Louisville sisters in 1893.
29. The first Mother's Day observation was held in Henderson, Kentucky in 1887. It became an official U.S. holiday in 1916.
30. Lexington, Kentucky premiered the first Beethoven symphony to be played in the United States, 1817.
31. Post-It Notes are manufactured exclusively in Cynthiana, Kentucky.
32. Thomas Edison introduced his light bulb in Louisville in 1883.
33. The radio was invented in Murray, Kentucky in 1892, three years before Marconi's claim.
34. Fort Knox stores the largest amount of gold anywhere in the world.
35. The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington has the largest hand blown stained glass window in the world.
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption