1. Starters in the Kentucky Derby, the oldest continuously held horse race, have had names beginning with every letter of the alphabet except for “X”.
2. Man o’ War, one of the most famous horses ever born in Kentucky, never actually ran a race in the state.
3. Thunder Over Louisville, the Derby festivities’ opening ceremony, has the world’s largest fireworks display.
4. A typical Derby crowd guzzles 120,000 mint juleps and drains 7,000 liters of bourbon.
5. Internet lore that would have you believe Bourbon County is among the state’s 37 dry counties is actually false.
6. Speaking of Bourbon, this beverage takes its name from Bourbon County, where it was first distilled.
7. Barren County has some of the state’s most fertile soil, and was even named rural America’s best place to live by Progressive Farmer magazine. (Seriously.)
8. Frederick Vinson, who later became the 13th Chief Justice of the United States, began life in a Louisa County jailhouse.
9. Kentucky treasurer “Honest Dick” Tate, at least, provided us with a wee bit of historical irony, absconding in 1888 with a cool quarter million from the state treasury.
10. Kentucky has the only memorial to Union soldiers killed during the Civil War to be erected south of the Ohio River. It’s located in Vanceburg and pays tribute to 107 local boys who gave their lives fighting for the North.
11. To this day, Kentucky’s governors must swear an oath before taking office that they have never fought a duel with deadly weapons.
12. Frankfort was the only Union state capital to be occupied by Confederate troops.
13. Martin van Buren Bates, a captain in the 7th Kentucky Cavalry, was so tall (about 7’2”) that his feet were said to drag on the ground when he sat in the saddle. After the war he achieved the nearly impossible—he met (and married) a woman even taller than himself.
14. Richmond, KY could have been a contender—in fact, it was almost chosen to be the nation’s capital, but it lost out to Washington, D.C. due to lack of nearby seaports. (Could you imagine?)
15. Kaelin’s restaurant in Louisville claims to have invented the cheeseburger in 1934, although a Denver drive-in called Humpty Dumpty’s patented it a year later.
16. And what goes better with a cheeseburger than a Pepsi? Pikeville, KY leads the nation in per-capita Pepsi consumption.
17. Unlike Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, and Betty Crocker, Colonel Sanders really did exist, and he developed his “secret recipe” for fried chicken in Corbin, KY.
18. Duncan Hines, of cake mix fame, was the real deal, too, and he hailed from Bowling Green.
19. Bowling Green is also the birthplace of all little red Corvettes (as well as the rest of the colors they come in).
20. Post-It notes are produced nowhere else but Cynthiana, but the exact number manufactured each year is a closely guarded secret.
21. Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world, and also the U.S.’s second-oldest tourist attraction, right behind Niagara Falls.
22. Cumberland Falls in the Daniel Boone National Forest is one of the few places on earth you might be able to see a moonbow.
23. The nation’s first commercial oil well was actually not in Texas, but was drilled in 1819 along the banks of the Cumberland River in McCreary County.
24. The melody of the song “Happy Birthday” was composed in 1893 by Patty and Mildred Hill, two Louisville sisters.
25. Mother’s Day also originated in Kentucky, when Henderson schoolteacher Mary Towles Sasseen created it to honor her own mama.
26. The Hatfields and McCoys were real families who carried on a real feud for a quarter century after the Civil War. While Devil Anse and co. were West Virginia boys, the McCoys were all from Pike County.
27. Washington, KY was the first town to be named after cherry-tree chopping George, back in 1780 when he was actually still president.
28. Postlethwait’s Tavern in Lexington hosted the nation’s first performance of a Beethoven Symphony (#1, naturally) in 1817.
29. Saloon-smashing badass Carrie Nation was born in Garrard County.
30. Another Kentucky badass, Zerelda James (mom of outlaws Frank and Jesse) was actually born in a saloon—the Offutt-Cole Tavern, which still stands today at the intersection of Old Frankfort Pike and US 62 near Midway.
31. D.W. Griffith, whose pro-KKK epic film “Birth of a Nation” earned him the sobriquet “Father of Hollywood” (if not of political correctness), hailed from LaGrange.
32. More than half of all U.S. troops killed in the War of 1812 were Kentuckians.
33. One of the first U.S. casualties of WWI was also Kentucky-born: Corporal James Bethel Gresham from McLean County.
34. Mark Spitz’s star-spangled Speedos, the hit of the 1972 Olympics, were the height of Paris couture—Paris, KY, that is.
35. Covington’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption boasts the world’s largest hand-blown stained glass window, a 67’ x 24’ depiction of the epically exciting Council of Ephesus.
36. Fort Knox holds the world’s largest store of Jello. Haha, no, it’s gold, of course—about $6 billion and change.
37. Middlesboro is the only U.S. city built inside a meteor crater.
38. Middlesboro is also the home of the Coal House, which was constructed from 42 tons of bituminous coal and today houses Bell County’s Chamber of Commerce.
39. High Bridge, towering 275 feet over the Kentucky River in Jessamine County, is said to be the nation’s tallest railroad bridge spanning navigable waters.
40. Bibb lettuce was developed by (and named for) John Bibb of Frankfort.
41. The world’s first enamel bathtub was manufactured in Louisville in 1856.
42. Traffic lights were invented by Garrett Morgan, a former slave from Paris, KY.
43. The radio was actually invented by Murray, KY’s own Nathan B. Stubblefield in 1892, three years before that copycat Marconi jumped in and claimed the patent.
44. Thomas Edison really lit things up at the 1893 Southern Exposition in Louisville, introducing the public to the electric light bulb.
45. Louisville was founded by George Rogers Clark, older brother of the Clark whose name is usually preceded by “Lewis and…”
46. Old Louisville is America’s largest Victorian preservation district.
47. Students at Lexington’s Transylvania University enter a lottery for the chance to spend the night in the on-campus tomb of a 19th-century botany professor.
48. Kentucky has more miles of running water than any other state in the lower 48.
49. Kentucky may not be the largest state (in fact, it’s the 14th-smallest), but it’s bordered by a whopping seven neighbors: Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.
50. The Lost Mountain coal mine, in rural Breathitt County, has been abandoned for over 40 years, but it isn’t hard to find—just look for the plumes of billowing smoke. Don’t bother calling 9-1-1, though—it seems these underground coal fires are nearly impossible to put out.
Also we’re the best state ever but everyone knows that.
to make myself feel better about all the meth.