Obscure Facts About the United States You Probably Don't Know
The United States is home to more than 327 million people. It remains the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it’s not always the place of the most well-informed people, and this widespread knowledge deficit even includes facts about the United States itself.
These facts about the United States are likely not common knowledge, regardless of your age bracket. See how many of these facts you already know.
If You're Having a Tough Day, Consider the Knox Expedition
The Knox Expedition, also known as the Noble Train of Artillery, should help put your own troubles in perspective. In 1775, Colonel Henry Knox of the Continental Army was tasked with transporting a supply of immensely heavy weaponry 300 miles during the winter. These were the years that independence was truly won for America, and it wasn't easy.
The U.S. Camel Corps
Just when you thought that American military ingenuity was in its golden age, you find out about the United States Camel Corps. And naturally, you wonder why the Camel Corps isn't a staple of modern battlefields.
The Designer of the Current American Flag Was a Teenager
Robert G. Heft has been referred to as the Betsy Ross of the current, 50-star American flag, though he does not receive nearly the publicity that Ross does. Heft, who passed away in 2009, designed the 50-star flag as part of a school project, beating over 1,500 other designs.
Land of the Free, Home of the Venus Flytrap
The United States is the proud birthplace of so many things. The cheeseburger, rock and roll music, Meryl Streep — there’s no denying that many popular things were created within the borders of the United States. Weirdly enough, you can count the Venus Flytrap in that number as well.
Lake Superior...No Kidding
Do you have any idea how a lake like Lake Superior gets its name? Here's a hint: its name is not coincidental, nor is it ironic. While the name actually comes from the French term for "upper lake", the sheer size of Lake Superior makes it, for lack of a better word, superior to all other freshwater lakes.
Centralia, PA: An American Ghost Town
Centralia is a town in Eastern Pennsylvania that is nearly as close as it gets to a ghost town — except it still has a few residents. As of 2017, the population of Centralia was somewhere between five and 10 people, depending on which source you consult.
Americans Absolutely LOVE Pizza
You do not have to spend much time in the United States to realize that Americans love their pizza. Whether you are in the heart of Brooklyn, a 7-Eleven in the middle of Idaho, or somewhere in between, there's a high likelihood that you can have a pizza in your hand in 30 minutes or less.
The Majority Of American Presidents Have Served
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 26 of the 45 American presidents have served in the military. Some of the standouts in terms of military valor include Ulysses S. Grant, who steered the Union Army to victory in the Civil War, George Washington (naturally) and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who played an instrumental part in winning WWII.
The New River Is One Old River
If you are looking for artifacts of the past in North America, you can't find anything that is much older than the New River. The New River is considered by most to be the oldest river in North America. It runs from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina into parts of Virginia and West Virginia.
Did You Receive Your Civil War Pension This Month?
Odds are you don’t receive a Civil War pension, but if you’re Irene Triplett, you very much do. Some fantastic life circumstances resulted in Irene Triplett continuing to receive a Civil War pension even in the 21st century.
Come on in, Canada!
While Canada and the United States have similar cultures, they remain decidedly separate countries. That may seem like a foregone conclusion today, but there was once the possibility of both nations being one
America the Generous
While there are some people who say many Americans are self-centered, the people of the United States are also objectively altruistic, at least by one measure. According to the World Giving Index, America is the most generous nation on the face of the planet.
Do You Know Your State Song?
Almost every American is of the national anthem, even if they’ve forgotten or never learned the words. But even the most patriotic Americans may not be aware that many states also have their own song. Some even have a state anthem in addition to a state song.
The U.S. Supreme Court Loves to Ball
The United States Supreme Court is an important institution, but not exactly a thrilling one. While knowing each of the justices who have dedicated their lives to crafting the law of the land is important for civic-minded Americans, the Supreme Court just isn’t as exciting as, say, a game of basketball
Kentucky and Bourbon Are Inseparable
It’s almost impossible to overstate the extent to which the identity of the state of Kentucky is tied to bourbon, a barrel-aged whiskey made primarily from corn mash. Estimates for how many barrels of bourbon are currently aging in Kentucky range from 8.5 million to more than 9 million.
Some States Are More for Cows Than Humans
When we talk about population growth, usually humans are at the center of the conversation. But in certain states, it is not the threat of humans overwhelming resources that is most pressing. Instead, cattle outnumber humans, and by a large margin.
St. Augustine, Florida Is Older Than Jamestown
Even the most bare-bones American history courses teach students about the first English settlement on the continent: Jamestown in 1607. And if you polled a group of Americans, you would probably get more than a couple who believe Jamestown is the oldest city in America.
You Can Thank Abe for Your Turkey
Do you know how Thanksgiving came to fall on the fourth Thursday of November every year? Well, like for many things, you can thank the top-hatted genius Abraham Lincoln for making your Turkey Day as consistent as possible.
America: Reigning Rugby Champs
If you follow Rugby, you know that the United States is not typically top of the scrum when it comes to winning international competitions. Nations such as New Zealand, England, Australia and even Fiji have more storied, well-funded and successful rugby programs than the United States.
All About State Constitutions
The United States Constitution gets a lot of love. It’s the single document at the heart of the United States. It’s definitely important, but you know what documents don't get nearly enough love? State constitutions.
Louisiana: The Hippo State
When the World's Fair came to New Orleans in 1884, water hyacinths plant were brought in to add vibrancy to the city's waterways. However, the problem with water hyacinths are that they spread quickly, so the new plants quickly took over local waterways. In order to combat the problem, someone came up with a novel solution: bring in hippopotamuses.
July 2nd: The Real Independence Day
Whether it’s because they love beer and hotdogs or setting off fireworks, most Americans know that Independence Day is celebrated on the Fourth of July. However, according to history, July 2nd is the real Independence Day.
NASA: Ladies Welcome
If you look back at many of the most historic space missions and the movies based on them, they mostly involve men. Space exploration was a decidedly sexist affair back in the day, but don't let that fool you into thinking American women haven’t accomplished anything great in space.
Sacagawea Was One Bad Mother, Literally
The term 'bad mother' can refer to somebody who sets their own rules, achieves amazing things and just doesn't give a, ahem, hoot. By that measure, Sacagawea, who helped Lewis and Clark discover a nice chunk of uncharted America, was definitely a bad mother.
Mustangs: Icons of the Old West, Not Actually American
Whether you’re talking about the horse or the car, mustangs are quintessentially American. While the Ford Mustang is an American-made classic and certainly not an import, some may be surprised to learn that the horse is not native.
Don't Forget Amelia
Amelia Earhart remains one of the most iconic Americans in history and is among one of the most iconic women in history, period. Unfortunately, she’s often most strongly associated with her disappearance, which remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time.
Harriet Tubman, Civil War Hero
Harriet Tubman is an indelible figure in American history. Most know her as a leading figure in the Underground Railroad, the organization of people who helped slaves escape to freedom north of the Mason-Dixon Line. But fewer people know that Tubman also played a role in the Civil War effort.
Bison: American-Born and Huge
Bison are some of the most majestic mammals in North America and objectively the largest. They can grow up to six feet tall and weigh up to a ton. You don't want to mess with these guys.
Who Needs College?
Graduating college has become something of a prerequisite for entering many professional spheres today. Whether you want to be a lawyer, therapist, engineer or teacher, you likely need a degree to be taken seriously.
One President Didn’t Live in The White House
It’s tradition for American presidents to live in the White House, situated at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Washington, D.C. It offers proximity to the beating heart of the nation’s politics and culture.