American States

20 mostly true facts about your favorite U.S. States.

Ready For Some Family Therapy? Let’s Play Monopoly!
Just so we’re clear: I get the race car this time.

Monopoly is the quintessential American board game we all know and shun on family game night because we don’t want to pay for more group counseling after the bickering escalates. Originally intended to demonstrate the evils of land ownership, it ended up mostly demonstrating the evils of totally destroying your sister’s dignity when she landed on your fully-hoteled Boardwalk. The initial version was invented by Elizabeth J. “Park Place” Phillips in 1903, with the game intended to be an explanation of the single tax theory of Henry George, which holds that the economic value derived from natural resources and natural opportunities should belong equally to all residents of a Zzzzzzzzzzzzz….. As this had no relevance on being able to get your little brother to cry when he had to mortgage Reading Railroad to get out of jail, it and similar games were modified by Parker Brothers in 1935 into the more familiar, relationship-splintering version we know today. Players move around the game board buying or trading properties, developing their properties by adding houses and hotels, and collecting rent from their opponents, with the ultimate goal of not having your uncle be the banker because he always cheats. An instant success during the Great Depression, the game has since spread across the globe, where even now, two goat shepherds in a yurt in Mongolia are coming to blows over whether you still get your $200 when Chance makes you go to jail.

Hey! I get to be the Segway this time!

[pullquote type=”right”]The familiar playing pieces used in the game (dog, shoe, top hat, etc.) each have their storied history, which doesn’t matter because I get to be the race car YOU WERE THE RACE CAR LAST TIME.[/pullquote]The familiar playing pieces used in the game (dog, shoe, top hat, etc.) each have their storied history, which doesn’t matter because I get to be the race car YOU WERE THE RACE CAR LAST TIME. History, or at least Google, has it that one of the originators of the game, Charles Darrow, wanted players to use items they could find around the house during the 30s, such as buttons, bottle caps, little piles of dust or foreclosure notices. His nieces suggested that he use the charms from a girl’s charm bracelet of the time, such as an iron, to show the long life of maternal poverty that awaited her, or a shoe, which was her usual dinner on Sunday nights. The pieces have remained more or less the same since then, with some variations to keep up with the times. The modern Electronic Banking version of the game features pieces such as a flat screen TV, a Segway, a credit card statement with a negative balance and, somewhat ironically, a foreclosure notice.

Get your own something-opoly

Parker Brothers began licensing Monopoly in 1994, which has led to over 100 versions of the game, such as “Disney Villains Monopoly”, “Bass Fishing Monopoly”, “Street Fighter Monopoly” and “Trump Monopoly”, which uses real hotels to destroy your credit rating if you don’t pay for overnight parking (Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200). Just about everything has been made into a something-opoly, to the point that some smaller countries are considering creating their own versions (“Mauritania-oply”) so they can fund their next coup with the royalties.

Monopoly facts

  • The longest game of Monopoly lasted 70 straight days, after the players realized they were using three dice instead of two.
  • The original subtitle was “The Interminably Slow 12-Hour Rainy Day Marathon Mom-Exasperating All-Out Sibling Brawl Trading Game”, which was soon changed to the less-accurate but shorter “The Fast-Dealing Property Trading Game”.
  • The iconic mustachioed lead character of the game with the top hat is called “Rich Uncle Pennybags”. Sadly, having never been paid for his modeling work, he is neither rich nor even an uncle, and today lives in an organic farming collective in Oregon with the Hungry Hungry Hippos.
  • More than 1 billion people have played Monopoly worldwide, most of them without access to the proper counseling.
  • To make the game relevant to Welsh consumers, the properties all have four extra consonants added to them.
  • There are four ways to get out of Jail in Monopoly; pay $50, roll doubles, use a Get Out Of Jail Free card, or punch your brother in the arm and steal his Get Out Of Jail Free card.
  • In WashingtonDC-opoly, you cannot build a house on any property that hasn’t been listed by HUD as suitable/available exclusively for a period of 60 days from the date of this Notice, where said property is described as for “off-site use only” by recipients in order to maximize the opportunity to utilize a suitable property, where providers should submit their written expressions of interest at the appropriate time, in accordance with applicable law, subject to screening for other Federal use. No one has ever completed a game of WashingtonDC-opoly.
Photo Credit: Bill Selak cc

20 (Suspicious and Somewhat Useles) Facts About South Dakota
The state that gave you forced perspective photos of tourists picking Mt. Rushmore's nose is back with 20 almost believable facts.

1

Official Motto: “Under God the People Rule”
Unofficial Motto: “Under God the People Rule (We Just Don’t Have a Lot Of’em To Do It”)

2

South Dakota’s name is derived from two Native American Sioux Dakota words: “Dakota”, meaning “Uh, That’s JustOur Name”, and “Hekahele itoka kasota mapiya oyate oaako iyakahea”, meaning “South”.

3

The geographical center of the United States has been determined to be Belle Fourche, South Dakota, so designated by a huge, 200-foot-tall red pin stuck into the center of town.

4

The largest underground gold mine in South Dakota is the Homestake Mine in Lead. Ironically, the largest lead house in South Dakota is the Goldmine Home in Stake.

5

The famous Mt. Rushmore monument took 14 years to complete. It was designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who, contrary to popular belief, was not a founding member of the pop group “Abba”.

6

The World’s Largest Petrified Wood Park is located in Lemmon, South Dakota, next to the world’s largest collection of broken drill bits and busted saws.

7

The Sage Creek Wilderness in the Badlands is overseeing the re-introduction into nature of the Black-Footed Ferret, the tastiest and most endangered mammal in North America.

8

Wild Bill Hickok was killed while playing poker in the city of Deadwood, South Dakota, holding aces and eights, which became known as the “dead man’s hand”. The cigar brand he was smoking became known as the “dead man’s cigar”, followed by “dead man’s rickety saloon chair”, “dead man’s argyle socks”, “dead man’s hair tonic”, etc., until the saloon owner threatened to shoot everybody if they didn’t knock it off with the “dead man’s” stuff.

9

Clark, the potato capital of South Dakota, hosts a Mashed Potato Wrestling contest each year. Competition is fierce, as losers are doused in gravy and eaten.

10

Towering starkly some 1400 feet above the prairie near Sturgis, Bear Butte is easy to find. It is used by visiting junior high boys as their main source of whispering and snickering.

11

There are an estimated 1,500 free-roaming buffalo in Custer State Park. Most keep to themselves, but occasionally a few wander drunkenly into bars bellowing and looking for their ex-girlfriends.

12

Woonsocket is known as “That Town With The Hilarious Name That Should Be A Character In A Douglas Adams Book.”

13

Wind Cave National Park is one of the longest and most complex cave systems in the world. It is home to a rare formation known as boxwork, which is made by the remains of thousands of discarded Amazon delivery boxes left by ancient Native Americans.

14

The Herschell Spillman steam carousel in Prairie Village featured a steam-powered calliope and a coal fired boiler. It was sunk off the coast of Virginia in a battle with the iron-clad ship HMS Warrior.

15

The most decorated World War II battleship was the U.S.S. South Dakota. It featured over 15,000 multi-colored bulbs, 2,000 hand-blown glass ornaments, 13 tons of tinsel and a gigantic rotating gold star on the conning tower.

16

Mitchell is the home of the world famous Corn Palace. Emperor Gustav Corn still holds court each day from his throne of glued-together Jiffy Mix boxes, throwing cans of creamed corn at startled tourists.

17

The tallest water tower in the state is in Bowdle. The shortest water tower in the state is a small pond with a hose coming out of it in Hosmer.

18

The Anne Hathaway Cottage in Wessington Springs is the only thatched-roof structure in the country that features a shrine to Mr. Drysdale’s famous secretary from The Beverly Hillbillies.

19

The Flaming Fountain on South Dakota State Capitol Lake is so named because the original builders hit a gas main during construction and were too lazy to fix it.

20

Visitors to Badlands National Park can see over 35 million years of fossil evidence, including a saber-toothed cat, a dog-sized brontosaurus, a bird that apparently played records, and a stocky humanoid wearing a fuzzy “Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes” hat.

Photo Credit Nicolas Raymond cc

20 (Suspicious and Somewhat Useless) Facts About Missouri
All you ever didn’t really care about knowing about the "Show Me State" until you showed up here.

If you like your states between -40 and 118 degrees and full of holes, you’ll love Missouri!
1
Official Motto: “Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto (Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.)
Unofficial Motto: “Etiam eu libero Budweiser cervisiam ad finem” (Yes, you get free beer at the end of the Budweiser tour.)
2
The first successful parachute jump from an airplane was made in St. Louis by Captain Albert Berry. Fortunately, the airplane was on the ground and not moving at the time.
3
Richard Blechynden served tea with ice at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and invented iced tea. Three students in Seattle Washington served coffee with ice in 1971 and invented Starbucks.
4
Warsaw holds the state record for both the lowest (-40 degrees in 1905) and highest (118 degrees in 1954) temperatures in the state. Consequently, two weeks in the middle of 1929 was about the only pleasant time to live in Warsaw.
5
Mozarkite is the official state rock and the only known substance that causes Aquaman to lose all his powers.
6
Machine-spun cotton candy was accidentally introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 when a sugar vendor caught his tie  in a high-speed mixing machine.
7
With around 5,500 caves, Missouri is also known as the “Missing Persons” state.
8
Kansas City has more boulevards than Paris, more fountains than any city except Rome, and more Super Bowl rings than the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars combined.
9
One event at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis was climbing a greased pole. The pole, a seven-foot-one bricklayer from Bydgoszcz named Stanislav Abramowicz, vowed never to do it again.
10
The ice cream cone was invented at the St. Louis World’s Fair on 1904 when an ice cream vendor ran out cups and asked a waffle vendor to quickly make some eye-poking cone-shaped waffle holders that leak out the bottom. While he was busy doing that, the ice cream vendor stole some of his cups.
11
In Mole, frightening a baby is against the law. However, taunting, fazing or intimidating a baby is allowed.
12
St. Louis offers more free visitor attractions than anyplace outside of Washington D.C., including the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, and watching tourists take selfies by the Arch.
13
Ozark folk wisdom says that splitting a persimmon seed into 2 halves reveals an omen of the coming winter weather. If the seed reveals “spoons,” it points to shoveling snow. “Fork” images foretell light snow, and “knives” portend cutting cold winds. Ironically, Ozark folk wisdom has proven more accurate than local news DopplerStorm RadarWeatherWatch Intellicasts, which have an astounding lack of persimmons.
14
On July 3, 1985 the honey bee was officially declared the state insect. Bees throughout the state continued to calmly buzz in total indifference.
15
Sedalia has been called the “Cradle of Classic Ragtime”. Kansas City had to settle for the “Disney Princess Diaper Bag of Classic Ragtime”.
16
The city of Creve Coeur’s name means broken heart in French, and comes from nearby Creve Coeur Lake. Legend has it that an Indian princess fell in love with a French fur trapper, but her love was not returned. According to the story, she then wrote a young adult romance novel series that changed the fur trapper into a handsome vampire and sold it to Sony Pictures for a $2.2 million advance.
17
It is against the law in St. Louis for a milkman to run while on duty. A cheese vendor, however, can lightly trot.
18
Sucker Day” is held every May in Nixa, when the city swells with up to 15,000 visitors who come to watch people driving down from Springfield to Branson.
19
The crinoid became the state’s official fossil on June 16, 1989, narrowly edging out the comatulid, a fin from a Shonisaurus, and a bivalve named Pete.
20
The first Missouri capitol building in Jefferson City burned in 1837, and a second building burned when the dome was struck by lightning in 1911. After that, state officials decided to stop building their capitols out of kerosene-soaked straw.

20 (Suspicious and Somewhat Useless) Facts About Illinois
Unofficial Motto: “Speed limit? What speed limit?"

1

Official Motto: “State Sovereignty, National Union”
Unofficial Motto: “Speed limit? What speed limit?”

2

The Illinois state song is entitled “Illinois,” a long, meandering song whose only word appears to be “Illinois”. Since it was ratified in 1925, no one has ever been able to finish singing it.

3

Metropolis, the home of Superman, really exists in Southern Illinois, which explains why the Fortress of Solitude is a Big John’s grocery store on East 5th Street.

4

Because of spelling challenges, Illinois went through two capital cities, Kaskaskia and Vandalia, before landing in Springfield.

5

Illinois has more personalized license plates than any other state, most of which are some variation of “PACKSUX”.

6

The first nuclear fission reactor, consisting of graphite bricks and uranium lumps, was activated under the football stadium at the University of Chicago by Enrico Fermi in 1942. The uranium lumps eventually became the offensive line for the championship 1943 Chicago Bears team, while the graphite bricks were recycled as aldermen.

7

The largest man-made lake in Illinois is in Carlyle. It is 68 feet wide and 2,496 feet deep.

8

Illinois’ highest point is at Charles Mound at 1235 feet above sea level. It’s lowest point is occasionally at Soldier Field on the 1 yard line.

9

The first round, steel silo for storage of silage on farms was built in 1893 and exhibited at Chicago’s Columbia Exposition. Previous silos had been constructed of straw and wood and were susceptible to wolves.

10

The Official Dance of Illinois is square dancing, but, curiously, it is only allowed in round silos.

11

The University of Illinois Conservatory has an apex which is 37 feet high. This giant beast is occasionally released into the wild where it can frolic with pinnacles and apogees.

12

The Mercantile Exchange building in Chicago was built without an internal steel skeleton, depending on its thick walls to keep itself upright. It sheepishly complains that it is all just “water weight”.

13

All the trains that pass through Chicago’s underground freight system set end to end would extend over ten miles in length, which is the exact length needed to keep you from getting to work on time.

14

It is illegal for boys in Mount Pulaski to hurl snowballs at trees, which accounts for the unusual amount of tree-shaped boys Mount Pulaski girls report seeing each winter.

15

The Chicago Public Library is the world’s largest public library and features a collection of more than 2 million books, most of them about Michael Jordan.

16

The world’s first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885. However, according to court testimony, it did not “scrape” the sky, it only “grazed” it, because “it was talking smack about my girlfriend.”

17

The Illinois state reptile is the Painted Turtle. Each year, over 15,000 public school second graders are called on to assist in the annual Painting of The State Reptile.

18

Illinois’ state soil is “Drummer Silty Clay Loam”, which is, coincidentally, also the name of the original drummer for REO Speedwagon.

19

The Chicago Post Office at 433 West Van Buren is the only postal facility in the world through which you can drive a car. Unfortunately, you can only do this once, as your car is invariably re-routed to a Dead Mail Center in Skokie and lost.

20

The ice cream “sundae” was named in Evanston after Gustavius Sundae, the patron saint of maraschino cherries.

20 (Suspicious Yet Mildly Useful) Facts About Nebraska
Unofficial Motto: "You Can Legally Drive 75 Here."

If you’ve been dying to know where Kool-Aid and the Rueben sandwich came from, or that Blue Chalcedony is not just a great name for Prog Jazz band, read on.

1

Official Motto: “Equality before the law.”
Unofficial Motto: “You Can Legally Drive 75 Here.”

2

The goldenrod was declared the state flower on April 4, 1895 by 75 allergic and violently sneezing State Congressmen.

3

At one time, Nebraska was called “The Great American Desert”. Now it’s called “The Great American Desert With A Cabela’s In The Middle.”

4

The Lied Jungle in Omaha is the world’s largest indoor rain forest, irrigated with the tears of Nebraskans waiting for winter to be over.

5

Omaha, Nebraska is the birthplace of the Reuben Sandwich, the son of Earl and Edwina Sandwich.

6

Nebraska’s Ogalala aquifer is the world largest aquifer, known for causing the most people having to look up the word “aquifer”.

7

Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings in 1927 by Edwin Perkins, who was known for bursting through walls of local establishments and shouting, “Oh, YEAH!”

8

Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska City by J. Sterling Morton in 1872, in hopes that someone would actually plant a tree there.

9

The official state nickname was changed to the “Cornhusker State” in 1945, as the “Kool-Aid State”” was deemed too commercial.

10

Nebraska is the nation’s largest user of center pivot irrigation. If you don’t know what center pivot irrigation is, don’t worry; we’ll still send you our corn.

11

90% of Nebraskan’s identify their religious affiliation as “Christian”, while 94% also identify themselves as “Tom Osbornians”.

12

The 911 system of emergency communications was first developed in Lincoln, where it was used as an emergency response to a Cornhusker loss.

13

The Corporate headquarters for Mutual of Omaha has 7 underground floors, where the ghost of Marlin Perkins is commonly seen chasing Jim Fowler in his jeep.

14

The world’s largest porch swing, which can seat 25 adults, is located in Hebron, Nebraska. Unfortunately, the world’s largest porch is located 956 miles away in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.

15

For the first time in U.S. history, two women ran against each other for governorship of a state in Nebraska in 1986. They both lost to a “Tom Osborne”, who was a write-in candidate.

16

Former President Gerald R. Ford was born in Omaha on July 14, 1913, and immediately tripped and fell into Council Bluffs.

17

The State Bird is the Western Meadowlark, the State Insect is the Honeybee, and the State Fossil is that old guy that sits in the Hy-Vee deli and complains about teenagers all morning.

18

The State Gemstone is Blue Chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of the minerals quartz and moganite, which are both silica minerals, but differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, while moganite is monoclinic. In other words, a blue rock.

19

It is illegal to go whale fishing in Nebraska. Ironically, it is likewise illegal to husk corn in Hawaii.

20

The Elephant Hall museum in Lincoln has the largest collection of elephant skeletons in the world, some of whom are believed to have been linemen for the Cornhuskers football team.

20 (Suspicious Yet Mildly Useful) Facts About Minnesota

1

Official Motto: “L’Etoile du nord” (“Even Our Toilet Paper Is Frozen”). Unofficial Motto: “Land of 10,000 (Usually Frozen) Lakes”.

2

Minnesota baseball commentator Halsey Hal was the first to say ‘Holy Cow’ during a baseball broadcast, just after realizing his parents intentionally named him “Halsey Hal”.

3

President Teddy Roosevelt gave his “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” speech in 1901 at the Minnesota State Fair. The speech referred to the notion that if you don’t want your wife to find out you’re eating a deep-fried Giant Snickers on a stick you should remain as silent as possible.

4

The original name of the settlement that became St. Paul was Pig’s Eye, so named because the original settlers really disliked living there.

5

The world’s largest pelican stands in downtown Pelican Rapids and is 15.5 feet tall. It was frozen in carbonite in 1957 by Jabba the Hutt because of outstanding gambling debts.

6

Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline, which is more than Hawaii, California, and Florida combined. Unfortunately, only 2.5 miles of these are actually unfrozen.

7

Rochester is the home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic, dedicated to curing patients suffering from intractable Miracle Whip poisoning.

8

Darwin is home to the world’s largest twine ball, which weighs 17,400 pounds and is twelve feet in diameter. Darwin has also attracted the world’s largest cat, an orange tabby nicknamed “Megatron” who has destroyed the city 4 times.

9

The stapler was invented in Spring Valley. Ironically, the spring was invented in nearby Stapler Valley.

10

It would take an average cow 4-5 years to produce the 20,000 gallons of milk served at State Fair’s All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand, but, due to genetic enhancement and modern squeezing technology, it only takes 14 Super Cows.

11

Minnesota students Scott and Brennan Olson invented rollerblades in 1980, when they were looking for another way for teenagers to absolutely destroy themselves on hand railings.

12

The Hormel Company in Austin first introduced Spam on July 5th, 1937, named after the founder’s wife, who was made entirely of a weird, pressed, ham-like substance.

13

The Control Data 6600, designed by Control Data Corp. of Chippewa Falls, was the first Super Computer. It was used by the military to simulate a game of ping pong using a ball of light and two vertical paddles.

14

The Polaris company of Roseau accidentally invented the snowmobile when the president ran his new Model T into the back of a parked sleigh.

15

The Kensington Runestone was found in 1898 on a farm near Alexandria. The stone carvings allegedly tell of a journey of a band of Vikings who traveled to a place called “Lambeau Field”, where they defeated many Packers.

16

The Mall of America is equal to the size of 78 football fields, roughly equal to one for each of the games a man will miss in his lifetime because of being dragged there to shop.

17

The world’s largest boot is located in Red Wing, and weighs over a ton. The world’s largest Dr. Scholl’s Pad is located in nearby Hager City.

18

The Minnesota State Fair uses 22,000 rolls of toilet paper each year. 1,000 of these are put on sticks, dipped in batter, fried, and served to unsuspecting Iowans.

19

The first practical water skis were invented by Ralph W. Samuelson in 1922, who steam-bent two pine boards into skis. The first impractical skis were invented by his brother, Dwight, who bent two snowshoes around a couple of coffee cans and sank without a trace in Lake Artichoke.

20

Alexander Anderson of Red Wing developed the processes to create puffed wheat and puffed rice, where small kernels of grain are continuously told how important they are and that they are much more handsome than anyone in the movies.