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As part of our ongoing series on the 50 states, this POST will cover the state of North Carolina, which was the 12th state to formally ratify the United States constitution, following New York and just ahead of Rhode Island.

Official seal of North Carolina

North Carolina was established as a royal colony in 1729 and is one of the original Thirteen Colonies. North Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England who first formed the English colony, Carolus being Latin for “Charles”.

Blue Ridge Mountains

North Carolina is bordered by South Carolina on the south, Georgia on the southwest, Tennessee on the west, Virginia on the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. So many ships have been lost off Cape Hatteras that the area is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”; more than a thousand ships have sunk in these waters since records began in 1526. The most famous of these is the Queen Anne’s Revenge (flagship of the pirate Blackbeard), which went aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718

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Blackbeard’s Ship

A drugstore clerk named Caleb Bradham from the city of New Bern invented a syrupy drink in the year 1893 that he claimed helped with digestion. He called it Brad’s Drink. He changed the name of the drink to “Pepsi-Cola” in 1898. In 1903, Bradham became wholly invested in the business and sold 7,968 gallons of Pepsi-Cola in the same year.

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Old Pepsi Logo

Cape Hatteras, at 210-feet-tall, is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States and the second tallest in the world. It was reconstructed in 1870 and is a popular tourist attraction today.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - Buxton, North Carolina
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The University of North Carolina was founded in 1789 and today has a student population of about 30,000. The university first held its classes in 1795. The University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and Duke University now form what is popularly known as the Research Triangle

The first commercial winery — Medoc Vineyard — was established in 1835. Today, the state has over 400 vineyards and 200 commercial wineries. Nestled in the foothill of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Yadkin Valley is a famous wine destination that attracts thousands of tourists each year.

Vernon Rudolph and his uncle bought the recipe for Krispy Kreme donuts from a French chef named Joe LeBeau in the year 1937. Rudolph saw potential in the recipe and decided to start his donut shop. In the summer of 1937, Rudolph moved to the present-day Winston-Salem and started his donut shop. The first Krispy Kreme Donuts were made on July 13, 1937.

The Wright Brothers may have been born in Ohio and Indiana, but they chose North Carolina to test their first flight. The brothers chose the beach town of Kitty Hawk as it gave them the privacy and steady winds needed to test the flight. The siblings tested their first flight on December 17, 1903. The flight flew 20 feet above the ground, lasted 12 seconds, and covered a distance of 120 feet.

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Additional Fun Facts about the state of North Carolina:

  • Babe Ruth had his first professional home run in Fayetteville on March 7th, 1914.
  • This state has the largest state-maintained highway system in the US. North Carolina’s highway system has 77,400 miles of roads.
  • James K Polk was born in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. He was also the 11th president of the US.
  • The nation’s seventh president Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxsaws area on the border of North and South Carolina.
  • The first miniature golf course was built in Fayetteville North Carolina.
  • North Carolina is nicknamed ‘Tar Heel State.’ While no one is sure where this name came from, the story goes that back when North Carolina was the leading producer of tar, someone noticed footprints in the tar and that’s how the name came about.
  • On average, North Carolina is hit by a hurricane almost every 4 years. (Every 3.44 years to be exact.)
  • NASCAR was born in North Carolina, and all because of moonshine. During prohibition the state was known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World.” The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 didn’t stop them and in fact, they knew they needed to get faster. Hence, stock car racing and eventually NASCAR.
  • Today, 100,000 Native Americans still live in North Carolina. It’s the eighth largest in the US and you won’t find any state east of the Mississippi River with a larger population.
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