There’s a lot more to Kentucky than meets the eye. Sure, it might be best known for its bourbon and horses, but there are so many more fascinating facts about Kentucky to discover and unlock.
From the stunning Appalachian Mountains in the east to the rolling hills of central Kentucky, from the vast expanses of the Bluegrass Region to the busy streets of Louisville, there are plenty that makes the state unique. Here are some of the fun facts about Kentucky to know about.
Quick Facts And Statistics About Kentucky
- Capital: Frankfort
- Population: 4.52 Million (25th Populous State In The U.S)
- Land Area: 40,408 sq mi / 104,659 km² (37th Largest In The U.S)
- Biggest City: Louisville
- Nickname: The Bluegrass State
- Abbreviation: KY
- Statehood: June 1, 1792 (15th U.S State)
- State Bird: KY Northern Cardinal
- State Flower: Giant Goldenrod
Historical Facts About Kentucky State
The state has seen its fair share of important events throughout the years. Here are some of the interesting historical Kentucky facts to know.
The Birthplace Of President Abraham Lincoln
Interestingly, one of the most well-known American presidents, Abraham Lincoln, has a connection to the state of Kentucky. The “Land of Lincoln” may be Illinois, but that’s not where Lincoln was born.
In 1809, Abraham Lincoln entered the world in Larue County, Kentucky. Lincoln’s family stayed there until he was five, making him a native son. Finally, they uprooted and headed for Indiana.
Earlier Explorers Included Names Like Louis Jolliet And Hernando De Soto
All 50 states in the U.S. began as territories before explorers and settlers made their way there. Louis Jolliet is widely recognized as the first European to scout the area now known as Kentucky.
Jolliet was the first explorer to delve deeply into the territory now known as Kentucky. He was also famous for his explorations throughout North America. Unfortunately, much of his studies were destroyed when his canoe sank during the voyage.
During The Civil War, Kentucky Played A Crucial Role
Kentucky, despite its present-day position in the South, was a border state during the American Civil War. The territory was disputed during the war between the Confederacy and the Union due to its neutrality.
The initial war saw Kentuckians fighting on both the Union and Confederate sides. However, as the conflict wore on, the state formally applied to join the Union.
People Have Lived In Kentucky For 14,000 Years
Though current Kentuckians feel strongly about their state, their history is brief. Historians estimate people from elsewhere stumbled into the state of Kentucky almost 14,000 years ago! This is one of the surprising historical facts about Kentucky.
Most prehistoric humans were nomads who relied on hunting and gathering to survive. It’s possible that some of these people settled permanently in the Kentucky region, giving rise to the earliest Native American civilizations there.
Kentucky Was Home To The Longest Siege In The Frontier
Kentucky has a rich and varied history, but one of the most pivotal events occurred in 1778. The Revolutionary War was not the only war in the new country at the time.
The Boonesborough Siege lasted longer than any other frontier siege in the United States. Shawnee leader Chief Blackfish led his people in a 9-day siege. Boonesborough was a young hamlet when the siege began, and its inhabitants had just recently arrived there.
Fun Facts About Kentucky For Travelers
The Daniel Boone National Forest Includes 21 Counties
Despite its vastness, the Daniel Boone National Forest is rarely given its due credit. The expansive outdoors is actually one of the most exciting facts about Kentucky for nature lovers.
Daniel Boone National Forest stretches over 21 counties and over 700,000 acres, making it the home to some of the state’s most significant natural areas.
Since more and more area is coming under government protection each year, the forest is expanding. When trekking in one of the many routes in the woods, you may even spot the northern cardinal, the state bird of Kentucky.
Music World, Owned By Bobby Mackey, Is A Household Name
Upon its 1978 debut, Bobby Mackey’s Music World probably didn’t think it would become a cultural icon. It has become a symbol of Kentucky and an institution of the state.
Country music is all you’ll hear at this boisterous nightclub. Even musicians playing nearby in Concord frequently stop by. Overall across the state, the Bluegrass music genre is one of the things that Kentucky is known for.
If you enjoy country music, be sure to check out the live music scene in Kentucky.
Bourbon May Have Been Created In Kentucky
While Scots claim credit for the invention of whiskey, the bourbon style has deeper American roots. Many people believe that Elijah Craig of Kentucky came up with the drink first, but no one knows.
Nonetheless, one of the proud facts of Kentucky is that they are the world’s leading producer of bourbon today. The state’s unique flavor is a result of the filtering effect of the limestone there. Bourbon County, Kentucky’s distinctiveness led to the naming of a type of liquor.
You will also find that this famous liquor does have influence and presence in some of the famous foods in Kentucky.
The Breathtaking Beauty Of Mammoth Cave National Park Has Attracted Visitors From All Over The Globe
There’s a lot to see and do in Kentucky. Are you aware it is home to one of the world’s seven natural wonders? That natural marvel is Mammoth Cave, located in Mammoth Cave National Park.
There has been a claim that Mammoth Cave has been the world’s longest cave system since 1969. For the same reason, it has been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites since 1981. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most famous landmarks in Kentucky.
Located There Is The Infamous Fort Knox
Fort Knox has come to represent the concepts of extreme safety and difficulty in breaching its defenses. However, few are aware of the actual location of the fort.
You’ll find the famous Fort Knox between Elizabethtown and Louisville in Kentucky. As most of the nation’s gold was kept in the fort, its protection was paramount. The majority of US military strategy and training has also taken place there.
Cultural Facts About Kentucky State
The Bluegrass State has produced a plethora of NBA stars
Needless to say, one of the proudest and most impressive facts about Kentucky. A large number of current or past NBA players and coaches have come through the University of Kentucky’s basketball program, including Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Pat Riley. And since 1947, the NBA draft has featured hundreds of players from Kentucky.
The State Was Home To Three Native American Groups
Kentucky’s history and lore are heavily influenced by the region’s indigenous population. Ancient artifacts from the region prove that people have been there for thousands of years.
The state of Kentucky has been home to numerous indigenous groups over the course of history. However, the Cherokee, the Chickasaw, and the Shawnee were the three most well-known. These communities are still deeply rooted in the state. They play a huge role in many of the historical stories and facts of Kentucky.
Kentucky Was Home To Inventor Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison worked as a young man as a telegraph operator before he became famous for inventing the light bulb. Because of the work, he had to relocate to Louisville.
During this period, Edison’s interest in inventing things began to grow. He dedicated a sizable chunk of his early career to advancing telegraph innovation. It’s likely that if he hadn’t been a resident of Kentucky, none of that would have happened to him.
Only Three Marriages To The Same Person Are Permitted
It may take more than one attempt to get a relationship off the ground. If you’re going to try again in Kentucky, you might as well get it right on the third attempt.
The state allows for a maximum of three marriages (and divorces) to the same person. This is certainly one of the funny and more weird facts about Kentucky. When this law has been enforced is unknown because no records exist.
Interesting Facts About Kentucky For Kids
The Official Name Of The State Is The “Commonwealth Of Kentucky.”
The state’s actual name is not “Kentucky,” even though this is what most people call it. The Commonwealth of Kentucky is the recognized name for the state in federal records.
The term “commonwealth” is used to describe the form of government in three other states besides Kentucky. Despite the fact that a commonwealth is the same as a state, it serves to further distinguish the new state government from the old monarchy. This makes for a good Kentucky trivia question.
Rivers Form Three Of Kentucky’s Borders
One of the important geographical facts about Kentucky is that the state shares land borders with every state on all of its sides. However, there are also famous existing canals running across most of them.
Along its borders are the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, the Tug Fork River, and the Big Sandy River. These rivers traverse more than 400 kilometers of land. In fact, except for its southern boundary, Kentucky’s entire territory is defined by the rivers surrounding it.
Kentucky State Gem Is The Freshwater Pearl
The freshwater pearl is the official state gem of Kentucky. The state of Tennessee also uses this emblem.
The Mississippi River has a rich history as a prime location for sourcing freshwater pearls. In 1986, the pearl became Kentucky’s symbol because of the state’s location along the path of the “Mighty Mississippi.”
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Other Fun Facts About Kentucky
A Kentuckian Founded Traffic Lights
The purpose of traffic lights is intuitively understood by anyone who has driven. Did you realize, though, that a man from Kentucky was responsible for developing this potentially lifesaving technology?
When Paris, Kentucky, resident Garrett Morgan witnessed a traffic accident, he realized the need for a more effective method of controlling traffic flow and created the first modern traffic signal. Once the invention was made public in 1923, transportation will never be the same again.
Instances Of Temperatures Reaching 114 Degrees Fahrenheit Were Recorded In Kentucky
The hottest temperature ever recorded in the state of Kentucky was 114 degrees Fahrenheit; this is one KY state fact that is lesser known. The last time it got to be that warm was back in 1930.
Even though Kentucky is located in the southern United States, the climate is not particularly hot. Normal summertime highs across the state rarely rise beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Post-It Notes Were Invented In Kentucky
Another one of the cool facts about Kentucky when it comes to inventions. Sticky notes from Post-It are ubiquitous in workplaces everywhere, and small notepads can be traced back to the state of Kentucky.
At first, Post-Its were only manufactured in a single factory in Kentucky. A 3M scientist’s need to prevent his temporary notes from falling out of pages inspired the invention of the ubiquitous sticky note.
Discovering More Fun Facts About Kentucky
These are just some of the popular KY state facts. The Bluegrass State certainly has a lot of intriguing and varied stories to learn about. It is truly a great place to explore, research, and discover its rich culture, history, and contribution to modern society. Make a trip down yourself to experience and uncover more interesting facts about Kentucky state.