15 Things You Might Not Know About North Carolina
1. Poet Carl Sandburg published more than one third of his works from his home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, where he lived for 22 years and died of natural causes. The National Historic Site is also where his wife, Lillian, raised her champion dairy goats.
2. North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain is home of the Mile High Swinging Bridge, a 228-ft suspension bridge over 5,280 feet above sea level. On a clear day, you can see the Charlotte, North Carolina, skyline, which is over 100 miles away, from the structure.
3. After years of asking, “Where arrrrrrrr you?” underwater archaeologists discovered the wreckage of Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, on November 21, 1996. She is still underwater just off the coast of Morehead City, North Carolina.
4. Each August, the beach town of Beaufort, North Carolina, hosts the Beaufort Pirate Invasion, a two-day festival featuring historical demonstrations of pirate-y stuff such as sword-fighting and a mock trial, complete with hanging. Its tagline? “It takes a village to pillage.”
5. Some notably artistic North Carolinians with awesome names: Soupy Sales (comedian whose real name was Milton Supman), O. Henry (short story writer whose real name was William Sydney Porter), and Thelonious Monk (jazz musician whose real name was Thelonious Monk).
6. The official state beverage of North Carolina is milk.
7. Seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, might have been born in North Carolina, but it is up for debate. The remote Waxhaws-region site of his birth had not yet been surveyed when he came into the world in 1767, so he might very well have been a South Carolinian. The White House is of no help in the debate, listing Jackson’s birthplace as a fence-sitting “backwoods settlement in the Carolinas.” Regardless, North Carolina is the official birthplace of two POTUSes: Andrew Johnson and James K. Polk.
8. Babe Ruth hit the first homerun of his professional career in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on March 7, 1914, in a Baltimore Orioles inner-squad scrimmage. Another first for the Bambino: the train ride that brought him from Baltimore to Fayetteville.
9. North Carolina's Mount Mitchell is America’s highest peak east of the Mississippi River. It is named for University of North Carolina professor Elisha Mitchell, who first measured the mountain in 1835. Mitchell suffered a fatal accident at nearby Mitchell Falls when he returned to verify those measurements over 20 years later.
10. Every December since 1956, McAdenville, North Carolina, has been transformed into Christmastown, USA. That first year, the McAdenville Men’s Club decorated and lit nine trees; now, more than 375 are adorned with red, white and green lights. Only live trees are given the holiday treatment and, this past year, those live trees ranged in size from six- to ninety-feet tall.
11. I Virginia Dare you to guess where the first child of English parents in the Americas was born. Why, Roanoke Colony in North Carolina, of course. Sadly, no one knows what became of young Virginia Dare; she was a member of what became known as “The Lost Colony” that disappeared with hardly a trace after the colony’s governor, John White (who was, incidentally, young Virginia’s Grandpappy), traveled back to England for supplies. When he returned a mere two and a half years later, his granddaughter and the rest of the colony were just, well, gone.
12. Though his 1870 election to the U.S. Senate was as a representative of Mississippi, the first African-American to serve in Congress, Hiram Rhodes Revels, was born and raised in North Carolina.
13. Not only is High Point, North Carolina, known as the Home Furnishings Capital of the World, it is also home to the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers. The 38-foot-tall chest has a pair of socks dangling from one of its drawers, symbolizing the city’s hosiery industry.
14. You can find the “World’s Largest Ten Commandments” in Fields of the Wood Bible Park in Murphy, North Carolina. The five-foot-tall letters that spell out all ten of the commandments (in English) are made of painted concrete and are set against a green background made of grass. The park also features replicas of religious relics and a baptismal pool. Oh, and a gift shop!
15. You may already be aware that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts was founded in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but did you know that, for the past decade, North Carolina's state capital, Raleigh, has been host to the Krispy Kreme Challenge? Race participants run 2.5 miles from the bell tower of North Carolina State University’s campus to the local Krispy Kreme where they must consume 12 doughnuts (not donuts). Participants then run the 2.5 miles back. All proceeds from the Challenge benefit the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.