Sunday, 7 January 2018

USA - State Nicknames

Recently heard of how each and every state of the USA is known by its own nickname. In truth there are a number known by more than one. Hence the following list will, where possible, have the official name explained and, when there are more than one, the example I found the most interesting.

Alabama is the Yellowhammer State, so called because of the nickname applied to Confederate soldiers from this state in the US Civil War who wore brilliant yellow cloth trimming the sleeves, collars and coattails.

Alaska is known as the Last Frontier State, and rightly so as it is (quite literally) the most recent wilderness for the US to contend with.

Arizona is the Grand Canyon State and in comes as no surprise to find this tourist magnet is found here.

Arkansas is the Natural State because of its natural scenic beauty.

California is the Golden State because of the Gold Rush of the middle of the 19th century.

Colorado is the Centennial State because it was 100 years since the founding of the Union when it joined.

Connecticut is the Constitution State as it was here at Hartford in 1639 that the first formal constitution was written on American soil.

Delaware is the First State as it was the first to be admitted to the Union, doing so in 1787.

Florida is the Sunshine State because its southern location means it has many hours of sunshine.

Georgia is the Peach State, it having been the official fruit since 1995.

Hawaii is the Aloha State, a Polynesian greeting.

Idaho is the Gem State, often said to be from the Native American reference to the name of Idaho meaning 'the gem of the mountains'. However sources also show how the name came mean 'territory of the fish-eaters' and thus the name refers to the precious metals found here.

Illinois is the Prairie State owing to its location on the prairie lands of North America.

Indiana has no official nickname but is usually known as the Hospitality State, for obvious reasons.

Iowa is the Hawkeye State, nobody really knows for certain why but most often explained by the character in James Fennimore Cooper's book The Last of the Mohicans.

Kansas is the Sunflower State as it is also the state flower.

Kentucky is the Bluegrass State as blue graas grows here. Correctly the grass is, of course, green but appears blue when the flower buds appear in the spring.

Louisiana is the Pelican State as this is the official state bird.

Maine is the Pine Tree State as it has a pine tree on its seal and there are indeed a lot of pine trees here.

Maryland is the Old Line State, from the old Colonial army and the Maryland Line.

Massachusetts is the Bay State as it is, unsurprisingly, where Massachusetts Bay can be found.

Michigan is the Great Lakes State as it borders Lake Michigan.

Minnesota is the North Star State, this appearing on the state seal in French.

Missouri is the Show Me State, reputedly taken from a speech by Missouri congressman William Vandiver.

Montana is the Treasure State because of its gold and silver deposits.

Nebraska is the Cornhusker State, taken from the nickname of the University of Nebraska's sporting teams.

Nevada is the Silver State as it has a wealth of silver.

New Hampshire is the Granite State as the rock was once quarried here in vast quantities.

New Jersey is the Garden State, albeit not officially. This was coined by Abraham Browning in a speech in 1876 at the Centennial Exhibition.

New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, one of many such enthusiastic names applied to a state

New York is the Empire State as George Washington referred to it as 'the seat of the empire' in 1784.

North Carolina is the Tar Heel State, for the locals were known as 'tarboilers' and later 'tar heels'. While nobody really knows why, one suggestion tells of how a brigade failed to hold their position during a battle in 1869 and the Mississippians blamed this on them failing to tar their heels that morning. Indeed.

North Dakota is the Peace Garden State as the International Peace Gardens are to be found in the north.

Ohio is the Buckeye State, a variety of horse chestnut which is the state tree.

Oklahoma is the Sooner State as many white settlers made claims on land here even before the border restrictions were lifted.

Oregon is the Beaver State as the state animal is the beaver.

Pennsylvania is the Keystone State as it was toasted as 'the keystone to the union' in 1802.

Rhode Island is the Ocean State, abeit not officially, and for obvious reasons.

South Carolina is the Palmetto State after the palmetto palm.

South Dakota is thwe Mount Rushmore State as Mount Rushmore, with its presidential faces, is found here.

Tennessee is the Volunteer State and with several explanations, including the volunteer soldiers at the Battle of New Orleans in 1812 or 1847 and the Mexican War.

Texas is the Lone Star State as this is the symbol found on the flag of Texas.

Utah is the Beehive State, for the Mormon settlers were said to have brought with them swarms of bees.

Vermont is the Green Mountain State, itself from Green Mountain Boy and a reference to any inhabitant since 1772 and named from the militia.

Virgina is the Old Dominion, and earlier Ancient Dominion, as it was the site of the first colonies.

Washington is the Evergreen State because of its vast areas of conifer forest.

West Virginia is the Mountain State for the same reason as some sources give this as the Switzerland of America.

Wisconsin is the Badger State, nothing to do with the animal but to early lead miners who worked underground, just like badgers.

Wyoming is the Equality State as it was here, in 1869, when women's suffrage was granted.

With apologies to our American friends who undoubtedly know most if not all of these, I will redress the balance by giving the origins of the names of counties on this side of the Atlantic next time.

Yet I must end with some of the odder, alternative references used by states for more than two centuries. These include Seward's Ice Box, Cottondom, Baby State, Toothpick State, Mile-High State, the Cracker State, Spud State, Hoosier State, the Cyclone State, Hemp State, Old Dirigo State, Oyster State, Codfish State, Water Wonderland, Cream Pitcher of the Nation, Mudcat State, Stub-Toe State, Divorce State, Clam State, Knickerbocker State, Flickertail State, Boomer's Paradise, Iodine State, Artesian State, Hog and Hominy State, Cheese State, Uncle Sam's Pocket Handkerchief, Land of Steady Habits and, most unusual of all, the Land of Wooden Nutmegs.

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