This is the second week of my five part blog, each week dealing with ten states listed alphabetically.
Everyone's home state has special…and weird…claims to fame, maybe even weirder than you realize. For every proud historical landmark, event and hero your state has produced, there are countless bizarre ones it can claim. I hope you enjoy these random pieces of trivia about the states.
Hawaii—There is one U.S. post office where you can send coconuts with colorful messages through the mail without any sort of packaging.
On the island of Molokai you'll find 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 approximately two decades and over 50,000 coconuts have been mailed.
Idaho—There's a small part of Yellowstone National Park in which you might not be able to be convicted of a crime.
When the federal government first set aside the land that is Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and Idaho and Montana were not yet states. Once those states were established, the majority of Yellowstone National Park fell within the borders of Wyoming, but the edges overlapped into Idaho and Montana. 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 Idaho 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 the population is 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. [A caveat to this is that it is not a lawless area. National parks are federal land and subject to federal law. We think of park rangers as people entrusted with protecting nature but they are also federal law enforcement officers and there's also the FBI which can be called in should it be a major crime with the perpetrators being tried in federal court.]
Illinois—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 and registered a statewide trademark in 1959, prior to the national chain. 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.
Indiana—You can visit a partial replica of the Pyramid at Giza and the 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 at 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.
Iowa—The state hosts an annual National Hobo Convention.
Since 1900, the National Hobo Convention has taken place in Britt, Iowa. Kings and queens are voted on by a special counsel, and the winners get their portraits immortalized in a painting.
Kansas—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 of the pancake 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—therefore, flatter than a pancake.
Kentucky—There are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky 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 claims that it is the world's leading producer of bourbon, producing 95 percent of the world's supply.
Louisiana—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 it 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."
Maine—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.
Maryland—Beatlemania was ignited in the U.S. by a teenage Marylander.
Before The Beatles were selling records in the U.S., Marsha Albert, a 15-year-old girl from Maryland, called a radio station in Washington D.C. Having just seen a news segment about the British band, she asked, “Why can’t we have music like that here in America?” The DJ tracked down a copy of the single I Want To Hold Your Hand. 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.
Stop by next week for part 3 of 5, Massachusetts through New Jersey.