North Carolina is our country’s twelfth state—and its history, people, and culture make it one of the most interesting. Continue reading to learn 20 unique facts about the Tar Heel State.
1 The first successful man-powered flight took place near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. The Wright Brothers’ achievement helped make modern air travel the marvel it is today.
2 The oldest state university in the country is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was founded in 1789.
3 North Carolina is the largest sweet potato producer in the country.
4 Besides sweet potatoes, North Carolina also leads the nation in furniture, tobacco, brick, and textile production.
5 No one quite knows where the nickname “Tar Heel State” comes from; however, many believe it comes from a time when North Carolina was a leading producer in tar for naval ships. The nickname could possibly stem from workers accidentally stepping in the tar and getting it on their heels as they walked.
6 The first English colony in North America, founded by Sir Walter Raleigh, was located on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina. Mysteriously, all of the colonists disappeared without a trace with only the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree as a clue. Roanoke has since been named the “Lost Colony” and has been the subject of many speculation and theories.
7 North Carolina is home to the tallest peak east of the Mississippi. Mount Mitchell, near Asheville, North Carolina, sits at 6,684 feet above sea level.
8 The largest home in the United States, the Biltmore Estate, sits in Asheville, North Carolina. The home has 255 rooms, a winery, and huge gardens.
9 Pepsi was invented in New Bern, North Carolina in 1898.
10 On March 7, 1914, Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
11 Famous North Carolina natives include Andy Griffith, Sugar Ray Leonard, Randy Travis, Ava Gardner, Ben E. King, Doc Watson, and Charlie Rose.
12 North Carolina’s state bird is the cardinal and its state flower is the flowering dogwood.
13 The world’s first Putt-Putt golf course was built in 1954 in Fayetteville, North Carolina by Don Clayton. Unlike modern courses, there were no windmills or other obstacles in players’ ways.
14 The famous pirate Blackbeard looted many ships off of North Carolina’s coast before he was killed on Ocracoke Island in 1718.
15 Both Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina are among the fastest growing cities in the United States.
16 The western portion of North Carolina is home to sub-ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, including the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains.
17 The first gold nugget found in the U.S. was found in Cabarrus County, North Carolina in 1799.
18 The state of North Carolina is named after King Charles I of England. The latin word for Charles is “Carolus.”
19 The first English child born in the New World, named Virginia Dare, was born in 1587 in the famous lost colony of Roanoke, North Carolina.
20 The North Carolina mountains are home to more than 300 waterfalls and 120 species of trees.