Your home state is special.
Forget "the Great State of..." nonsense. Your home state is weird, maybe even weirder than you realize. For all the proud historical landmarks achieved by your state's leaders, there are countless bizarre moments of which you can be equally proud. Become a hometown hero and master your state's most random piece of trivia below.
There's a store that sells unclaimed baggage from airports.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro buys luggage that has never been claimed from airports and then sells the found items to new owners. Anything from vintage Leica cameras to autographed jerseys is up for grabs.
A clever jokester once burned tires inside a dormant volcano to make it seem active on April 1st.
On April 1, 1974, Oliver Bickar climbed into Mt. Edgecumbe, a volcano that had been dormant for around 9,000 years, and made it look like it was coming back to life. After four years of planning, Bickar doused 100 tires in cooking oil and lit them on fire inside Mt. Edgecumbe. He also spray painted "April Fool" in 50 foot letters around the rim.
The U.S. Postal Service still uses mules to reach two areas in Arizona.
Residents of Supai and Phantom Town receive mail by mule trains, as the terrain is too tricky for motorized vehicles. The trek requires hours of travel through the Grand Canyon valley.
A school for the deaf has a "leopard" for a mascot.
The Arkansas School for the Deaf's mascot has actually been around since 1941, so it wasn't named after the British rock band Def Leppard. Still, an amazing coincidence.
Hollywood was initially founded to escape Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison's film business held so many patents that competing film studios could barely make a profit, so a bunch moved west hoping patent laws wouldn't bother to reach them. This led studios to center themselves in Hollywood, Calif., instead of the original film capital, Fort Lee, N.J. Both Paramount and Universal were created in this westward move.
Every year, a town celebrates a frozen dead guy.
Image: Frozen Dead Guys Days
The town of Nederland celebrates the cryogenically frozen body of Bredo Morstoel, who has been kept in a local "barn" for decades by his family. The body was almost forced out of the barn, as keeping a dead body in a family home was considered illegal, but the town rallied to let his descendants keep up the tradition.
A cat was once sentenced to house arrest for terrorizing a neighborhood.
In 2006, a tomcat named Lewis was put on house arrest after attacking an Avon representative selling products in the Connecticut town of Fairfield. Lewis' owner, Ruth Cisero, claimed that her cat only attacked because he was under a lot of stress from being tormented by egg- and water-throwing neighbors. A judge ruled in 2008 that Lewis was safe and free to once again roam the streets of Fairfield.
The state may be the real home to the city of Metropolis, from "Superman."
According to works done by former DC comics editor Paul Kupperberg, Metropolis is actually located in Delaware, rather than New York City, as often shown in films, or in Metropolis, Ill., a real city which claims to be Superman's hometown. In the 2006 film "Superman Returns," the Metropolis license plates bear the slogan, "The First State" which is also on Delaware license plates. The exact location may remain a mystery, but Delawareans have a pretty good case for claiming it as their own.
Remains of a human civilization as old as the ancient Egyptians were found buried in a bog.
In 1982, human bones were found in the black peat bog of Windover. They ended up being around 7,000 years old, according to radio carbon dating. The black peat was so good at preserving these ancient bodies that human brain tissue was found in a woman's skull with her DNA still intact.
A tree once became the legal owner of itself.
Located on the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Ga., "Jackson Tree" legally owns itself and the surrounding eight feet around its base, thanks to its previous owner, Colonel William H. Jackson. According to the legend, upon Jackson's death he deeded the tree:
I, W. H. Jackson, of the county of Clarke, of the one part, and the oak tree… of the county of Clarke, of the other part: Witnesseth, That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet of it on all sides.
Unfortunately, the tree was struck by lightning and killed in 1942, but a new tree born from an acorn from the original is alive and thriving.
At one U.S. post office, you can send coconuts with colorful messages through the mail without any sort of packaging.
Image: Facebook of Kalele Bookstore
On the island of Molokai stands a small outlet of the U.S. Post Office that's home to the "Post-A-Nut" service. Free coconuts are available at the office for visitors to decorate and then mail anywhere in the world without packaging, as long as postage is attached. The service has been around for around two decades and over 50,000 coconuts have been mailed.
There's a small part of Yellowstone Park in which you might not be able to be convicted for a crime.
Due to a potential legal loophole, it may be impossible to convict people of any crime that happens within a 50-square mile area around the Idaho parts of Yellowstone Park. This is due to how trial laws are written in that an accused culprit has the right to be tried by a jury from the district and state in which they're arrested. Since there's a population of zero in this small area of Idaho that's in the legal jurisdiction of a district in Wyoming, the trial may have to be forfeited.
The state was home to a completely different Burger King before there was the Burger King chain.
The Burger King in the town of Mattoon actually opened before the national chain and registered a statewide trademark in 1959. They sued to be able to operate as the only Burger King in Illinois, but were foiled in court -- though the Burger King chain is still not allowed to operate within 20 miles of the original restaurant.
You can visit a partial replica to the Pyramid of Giza and Great Wall of China.
Bedford is considered the "Limestone Capital of the World," and as such tried to use its resources to build replicas of both the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China. The plan was abruptly killed after controversy over the federal government's granting of hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete the project. The ruins of the partially started pyramid still exist, although the wall is just a line of limestone blocks on the ground.
The state hosts a yearly National Hobo convention.
Since 1900, the National Hobo Convention has taken place in Britt, Iowa. King and queens are voted on by a special counsel, and the winners then get their portraits immortalized in a painting. If you'd like to attend this year, it's taking place August 8-11.
Image: Facebook of Britt Hobo Days
The terrain of the entire state is actually scientifically proven to be flatter than a pancake.
It's not just a popular idiom. The state was proven to be flatter when scientists bought a pancake from an IHOP and tested the topography against the flatness of the state. They measured "perfect flatness" on a scale of 1 with the IHOP pancake testing as 0.957 and Kansas scoring a 0.997.
There are more barrels of bourbon here than there are people.
According to the Kentucky Distillers' Association, there are 4.7 million barrels of bourbon aging within the state, compared to 4.3 million people aging within the state. Kentucky also maintains is also the world's leading producer of bourbon, producing 95 percent of its supply.
The Louisiana State Penitentiary has a public golf course.
For those who enjoy golfing and gawking at prisoners at the same time, the Prisonview Golf Course in Angola offers such an opportunity. Located on the grounds of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the website describes in an entirely serious manner, "Number 1 tee box is elevated approximately 75 yards into the Tunica Hills, offering a spectacular view of Louisiana’s only maximum security prison."
There's a private island off the coast of Maine currently on the market for only $40,000.
For just $40,000, Chandler Island in Wohoa Bay can be privately owned. The island is about one acre of land and has a small wooden seating area already built on it.
Image: Private Island
Beatlemania was ignited in the U.S. by a teenage Marylander.
Before The Beatles were selling records in the U.S., a 15-year-old girl from Maryland named Marsha Albert called a radio station in Washington D.C. and asked, “Why can’t we have music like that here in America?” after seeing a news segment about the British band. The DJ tracked down a copy of the single "I Want To Hold Your Hand," and after the station began playing the song, demand skyrocketed in the U.S. as other stations finally followed suit. A DJ named Dick Biondi had earlier tried to play The Beatles (which was misspelled as B-E-A-T-T-L-E-S) both on Chicago and Los Angeles based radio stations the previous year, but both attempts flopped.
Lobster was once so abundant in this state that it was given to slaves and prisoners.
The state used to have so many lobsters that they'd regularly be fed to prisoners, slaves and other groups that usually get short shrift when it comes to food. Apparently, some professional servants even inserted a clause in their contracts that they would only be given lobster twice a week, not wanting to eat lobster all day, every day.
A university in the state offers a license to hunt unicorns.
Although the Unicorn Hunters of Lake Superior State University haven't officially existed since 1987, official unicorn hunting licenses can still be obtained from the website. Created partially as a PR stunt in 1971, the Unicorn Hunters engaged in whimsical activities such as burning a snowman on the first day of Spring and holding an annual International Stone Skipping Tournament.
A Minnesota father would only speak to his son in the Star Trek language of Klingon for the first three years of the child's life.
For the first years of his son's life, d'Armond Spears only spoke Klingon to the young child as a sort of linguistic experiment. In the beginning, his son would talk back in Klingon occasionally, but because Spears' wife and others would still speak English, the language didn't stick. As the boy grew up and didn't want to speak Klingon, so he claims he hasn't retained the language.
A "Phantom Barber" once broke into people's homes and cut their hair while they were sleeping.
During WWII, the town of Pascagoula was plagued by a series of mysterious nighttime haircuts. A panic erupted when girls, particularly blondes, would wake up to find part of their hair had been cut, or in some cases, their whole heads had been shaved. The "Phanton Barber" was never caught, so not too much is known beyond a few scattered clues, including a man's footprint found in a victim's room.
The town of Tightwad is home to the Tightwad Bank, which draws customers from across the country.
Tightwad Bank is a legitimate bank is the town of Tightwad, and the owners are aware of the humor behind the name, as many customers around the country choose the bank just for the joke. For less of a monetary commitment, various merchandise like shirts can be bought from the bank's website.
Image: Flickr photographer gmeador
Montana has a replica of the shire from "Lord of the Rings."
The Hobbit House is a replica of J.R.R. Tolkien's shire and has been located in the Cabinet Mountains since 2008. Accommodations are $295 a night.
Image: Hobbit House of Montana
The landlocked state has a navy, and anyone can receive the state's highest honor of "Nebraska Admiral."
Despite being hundred of miles away from the nearest ocean, the state's "highest honor" is to become a Nebraska Admiral. Anyone can receive a nomination, which is then sent up to the governor to decide whether a Cornhusker is worthy. The honorary certificate reads:
And I [the Governor of Nebraska] do strictly charge and require all officers, seamen, tadpoles and goldfish under your command to be obedient to your orders as Admiral—and you are to observe and follow, from time to time, such directions you shall receive, according to the rules and discipline of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.
There's an Area 51-themed brothel here.
Image: Alien Cathouse
A group of Robin Hooders once paid expired parking meters before tickets could be handed out.
A six-person group going by the name of "Robin Hood and his Merry Men" were sued in 2013 by the city of Keene for paying random people's expired parking meters and filming ticketing officers. In December, a judge dropped all chargers against the Robin Hooders.
Napoleon's penis allegedly resides in this state.
Professor John Lattimer kept what is allegedly Napoleon's penis in his Englewood home until his death in 2007. Reporters were allowed to film inside the home after Lattimer's death and found that Napoleon's complex might not have been caused by his height.
Psychologists and psychiatrists were nearly legally required to dress up as wizards when testifying in court.
In 1995, the state Senate unanimously passed a bill to require psychologists and psychiatrists to wear wizards outfits and wave a wand when testifying in court because the senators were annoyed with how often their "expert" testimony was relied upon. The bailiff would also be required to dim the lights and ring a gong. The bill didn't end up passing the state House.
Referring to the city as "Gotham" was originally supposed to be an insult.
Washington Irving, the famous writer of stories such as "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," was the first to call New York City "Gotham." The intended reference was to a medieval English story of a town named Gotham which meant "Goat’s Town" and was populated by "simple-minded fools." Irving was also the first to associate the term "knickerbocker" with New Yorkers.
Two nuclear bombs were accidentally dropped on the state. One almost detonated.
In 1961, two nuclear bombs 260 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, N.C.. One of the bombs even activated, but was defused by an emergency kill switch that was known to be regularly faulty.
"Where in North Dakota is Carmen Sandiego?" is the only state-themed game in the series.
North Dakota was the only state to complete a state-specific version of the classic "Carmen Sandiego" games, even though 20 different states were also given the same opportunity. The game was played in North Dakota school classrooms in the '90s, but surviving copies are apparently hard to come by.
The state wasn't officially admitted into the Union until 1953 because of a technicality.
The United States Congress failed to go through all the motions of recognizing Ohio as an official state when it was first recognized in 1803. Congress recognized the state in 1953 after the error was discovered, but decided to retroactively make the official founding date reflect the original year.
A resident of this state is the only known person to be hit by space junk.
In 1997, a woman was hit by space junk (debris) from the U.S. Delta II rocket, launched the year before. The woman wasn't injured by the piece of rocket, but did become the only person ever to be hit by falling space junk, according to the Aerospace Corporation.
The town of Boring, Ore. has become official partners with the Scotland town of Dull.
The two sleep-inducing towns joined forces in 2013 in an attempt to increase tourism. Oregonians declared a new state holiday called "Boring and Dull Day" to celebrate the occasion, while Scotland invited a bagpipe player to play some tunes.
A Norwegian musician once tried to build a "New Norway" in this state.
Norwegian musician Ole Bull attempted for a short time in 1852 to establish a New Norway colony in Pennsylvania, which is now commonly referred to as the Ole Bull Colony. The project failed when there wasn't enough land to till, and Bull ended up going back to performing concerts.
The White Horse Tavern is the oldest operating tavern remaining in its original building.
The White Horse Tavern in Newport has been operational since 1673 and still resides in the original building, built in 1652 as a residence. The structure's survival over three and a half centuries makes it the oldest surviving tavern building in the U.S.
There's an island full of wild monkeys off the coast.
Morgan Island is one of many sea islands in Beaufort County and is home to a population of rhesus monkeys. The monkeys were originally moved to the island in 1979 for research purposes and are owned by the National Institutes of Health.
The world's fastest ever recorded change in temperature happened in this state, when it got 49 degrees hotter in just two minutes.
On January 22, 1943, the temperature in Spearfish changed from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 45 degrees in two minutes, making it the world record holder for fastest temperature change. Later in the day, after the town heated up a bit more, the temperature dropped back to -4 degrees, causing windows to crack.
The band Paramore broke a decades long "Nashville Curse"... but were then accused of being a fake band.
The "Nashville Curse" began in the early 1980s and plagued rock bands from Music City for more than two decades. As the legend goes, a band called Jason & the Nashville Scorchers agreed to take the word "Nashville" out of their name to secure a record deal. This supposedly cast a curse that prevented them from reaching mainstream success, which then followed around other rock bands that never surpassed local fame.
The curse was finally declared broken by the band Paramore in 2008, but in 2010, two of the original co-founders claimed they were a fake band created by their record label. Record labels "create" music acts all the time, but Paramore thrived on an image of "rock authenticity," rising to fame organically through Myspace and deep connections with fans. Ex-members claimed that this was not actually the case, and that the whole act was staged instead. Lead singer Haley Williams has denied this. Regardless, the Nashville band Kings of Leon has gone platinum since.
The state legislature once accidentally honored the Boston Strangler because they weren't paying attention to the bills they were passing.
On April 1, 1971, Texas state Rep. Tom Moore proposed a bill to honor Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler who allegedly murdered 13 women. Moore's point was to show that his colleagues didn't read the bills they were voting on, a point that was proven correct when the state House approved the bill. Moore ended up retracting the bill after its passage.
NASA measures "space sickness" using the name of a U.S. senator from the state.
NASA's unofficial scale for measuring motion sickness in space is called the "Garn Scale." Jake Garn was formerly a U.S. senator from Utah and was an astronaut on the Discovery mission, where his job was to purposefully get sick for research. Garn claims he never actually threw up though.
A giant dome was almost built over a city just north of Burlington.
The town of Winooski was almost covered in a giant dome when city planners decided it might be a good way to address the town's winter energy conservation problem. This idea apparently came about after a few glasses of wine, but ended up going far enough to attract political support and worldwide media attention. In the end, the town couldn't secure the funds, meaning that Winooski remains domeless.
The residents of a small fishing island still talk in a dialect closely resembling "Restoration English."
Tangier Island has retained a dialect that's been determined to closely resemble the language used during Restoration England, a period just slightly after Shakespeare's. Although recently the proliferation of television and other mass communication devices has deteriorated the accent, for generations the inhabitants spoke like early English settlers and are featured in the documentary, "American Tongues."
There's a mystery soda machine here that is somehow always filled, but no one knows by whom.
According to legend, nobody knows who stocks or owns the "Mystery Coke Machine" in Seattle, but it never runs out of soda. The machine appears to be from the 1970s and features a "Mystery Button" that, when chosen, spits out a random soda that isn't one of the other choices. The machine has a Facebook fan page that claims it's "Always open."
According to legend, this state is home to a tall satanic figure with wings named Mothman.
In the late 1960s, a couple in the town of Point Pleasant claimed they had seen a man-bird hybrid with glowing red eyes -- and so the legend of Mothman was born. Mothman has apparently shown up more and more over the years, so the town immortalized the beast with a statue, festivals and a museum. Mothman was also featured in the 2002 film "The Mothman Prophecies."
There's an upside down replica of the White House that makes absolutely no sense.
Top Secret in Wisconsin Dells is an upside down White House that also has upside down furniture and a "fun house" attraction inside. That's not the truly weird part though. It has received a 1.5 rating on both TripAdvisor and Yelp, where people have said that despite the high ticket price tour guides are often nowhere to be found, the heat isn't turned on in the winter, all that's inside is a "shot of air from an air compressor" and that place is just really dusty in general. One reviewer seemed to perfectly sum it up as, "we weren't even sure what the whole point was." That said, although it doesn't seem to be all that fun inside, the reviewers do agree the outside is still pretty cool.
There's actually a chain of upside down White Houses called Wonderworks in 4 other states, but they don't nearly compare to the bizarreness of Dells Top Secret and seem to be respected establishments.
A whole town was built on top of an abandoned airport, with the old runways serving as main roads.
Image: Google Maps
BONUS: Washington D.C.
There's a Darth Vader "gargoyle" on the National Cathedral.
To raise money for construction on the National Cathedral's west towers during the 1980s, a contest was held for children to submit "gargoyle" designs to add to the construction plans. Christopher Rader won third place with his Darth Vader design, and the Sith Lord was added to the building.
All images Getty unless otherwise noted.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported several details concerning the circumstances around Napoleon's preserved penis, including the date of Lattimer's death, the organ's appearance on film, and the specific location in the home where it was kept. This story has also been updated with additional information about how Beatlemania came to the U.S.