This is the fourth 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.
New Mexico—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 the appropriate costume 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. Needless to say, the bill didn't pass the state House. [and if it had passed, I'm sure the state Supreme Court would have struck it down as unconstitutional]
New York—Referring to the city as Gotham was originally supposed to be an insult.
Washington Irving, the author of RIP VAN WINKLE and THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HALLOW, 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.
North Carolina—Two nuclear bombs were accidentally dropped on the state.
One of them almost detonated. In 1961, two nuclear bombs 260 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina. One of the bombs even activated, but was defused by an emergency kill switch that was known to be regularly faulty.
North Dakota—"Where in North Dakota is Carmen Sandiego?"
This is the only state-themed game in the WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO 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 difficult to find.
Ohio—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 proper procedures of recognizing Ohio as an official state when it was first designated as such in 1803. Congress corrected the error in 1953 after it was discovered, but decided to retroactively make the official founding date reflect the original year.
Oklahoma—A resident of this state is the only known person to be hit by space junk.
In 1997, a woman was hit by debris from a 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.
Oregon—The town of Boring, Oregon, 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 provide some tunes.
Pennsylvania—A Norwegian musician once tried to build a New Norway in this state.
For a short time in 1852, Norwegian musician Ole Bull attempted 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.
Rhode Island—The White Horse Tavern is the oldest operating tavern remaining in its original building.
The White Horse Tavern in Newport has been in operation 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.
South Carolina—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 Institute of Health.