50 Interesting Facts About North Carolina You Probably Didn't Know

Some of the best unheard and unknown facts about North Carolina that you’ll wonder how you were still unaware of.

1. Presidents James Polk and Andrew Johnson were born here. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County. Johnson was born in Raleigh in 1808.
2. Our 7th president, Andrew Jackson spent some time living in Summerfield (north of Greensboro) for a time.
3. North Carolina has exactly 100 counties. It’s the only state in the nation to make that claim.
4. There’s been three species of dinosaurs located with the North Carolina state line. Two were small duck billed vegetarians and one was a large meat eater.
5. The official state drink of North Carolina is NOT Cheerwine. It’s milk. There are only about 30 other states that have milk for their state beverage.
6. UNC Chapel Hill is the oldest public university in the United States. Carolina was chartered in 1789, and first allowed students in 1795.
7. WXYC (UNC’s flagship radio station) provided the world’s first internet radio broadcast. That was in November of 1994.
8. Long-time ESPN broadcaster, and UNC alum Stuart Scott spent some time behind the desk at WXYZ, as did legendary broadcaster Peter Gammons (ESPN, the Boston Globe.)
9. Orville and Wilbur Wright performed the first ever heavier-than-air feat of human flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.
10. Both worked in a printing press for a long period of time, where they used pulleys, motors and bicycles to run the machines. The bicycles they used helped them figure out how the whole process to balance an airplane might possibly work.
11. New Bern, at the base of the Neuse River in eastern Carolina, was home to the invention of Pepsi Cola in 1898. Cola Cola was invented somewhere else.
12. The original Krispy Kreme donuts were made on July 13, 1937 in what is now Old Salem in present day Winston-Salem.
13. The original owner, Vernon Rudolph, purchased a secret recipe from a New Orleans French Chef, and rented out a building to make and sell donuts to local grocery stores.
14. Arnold Palmer honed his golfing skills at Wake Forest University, where he made the team on a golf scholarship. Palmer won numerous awards on the PGA tour.
15. And speaking of golf…The world’s first miniature golf course was constructed in Fayetteville. Putt-Putt cost a quarter to play a round.
16. There is more furniture and tobacco made in North Carolina than anywhere else in the nation. The Tar Heel State also leads the country in textile and brick manufacturing.

17. Furnitureland South in Jamestown is the world’s largest single-store furniture retailer in the world. It has more than a million feet of showroom space. High Point is considered the actual furniture capital, though.
19. The first state in the nation to establish a state museum of art was right here in North Carolina. It was in 1924, and it’s now called the North Carolina Museum of Art, located in Raleigh.
20. Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run here, in Fayetteville, on March 7, 1914. It was also in Fayetteville where he earned the nickname ‘Babe.’
21. In those days, the Baltimore Orioles (his original team) held their spring training in Fayetteville.
22. White Lake near Elizabethtown has been called the nation’s ‘safest beach’ due to the lack of tides or any other real danger to swimmers. The bottom is sandy and the water is crystal clear.
23. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville is the largest home in the country, boasting 256 rooms and a huge garden. Construction started in 1889, and took six years to complete.
24. The home was constructed by George Washington Vanderbilt II, and it’s believed that the construction of the home took up most of his time and money, therefore draining most of his inheritance.

25. Sir Walter Raleigh founded the first English colony in America on Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks way back in 1587. They all almost died.
26. The Tar Heel State is the nation’s leading sweet potato producer. The hot, moist climate, mixed with the rich, fertile soil, makes it the perfect place to grow them.
27. More than half the nation’s sweet potatoes are grown here every year. Last year, 50,000 acres were harvested. All are grown in central to eastern Carolina.
28. Blackbeard the pirate died off of the North Carolina shore. After a bloody battle with the British navy, Blackbeard was killed off of the coast in the Outer Banks, near Ocracoke Island.
29. The pirate had captured more than 30 ships in his brief career. He had earned his nickname for his long, black beard, which he supposedly set on fire during battles to intimidate opponents.
30. The state of North Carolina leads the nation in the number of green building certifications: 30,000 official environmentally friendly buildings total.
31. It also leads the south, and is second in the nation in new solar construction, too.
32. Mount Mitchell (6,684 feet) is the highest point in the Appalachians, and the highest point in the eastern U.S.
32. The next nearest high peaks are in North Dakota and Colorado.
33. Pamlico and Albemarie Sounds are the largest landlocked sounds in the entire nation.
34. There have been so many ships lost to sea off of Cape Hatteras that it has been dubbed, “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.” More than 1,000 ships have crashed or disappeared here since records were began in 1526.
35. Only Florida and Louisiana have been hit by more hurricanes than North Carolina.
36. There have been lots of famous musicians with roots in North Carolina. In fact, North Carolina is home to 10 American Idol finalists, which is more than any other state. Notables include Clay Aiken (Raleigh), Fantasia Barrino (High Point), Kellie Pickler (Albemarie), Bucky Covington (Rockingham), Chris Daughtry (Roanoke Rapids) and Scotty McCreery (Garner).
41. Ben Folds lives in Chapel Hill and Eric Church is from Granite Falls.
42. More than 800 featured movies have been filmed in North Carolina. Everything from Dirty Dancing to Forest Gump were on screen, at some point in the Tar Heel State.
43. North Carolina is home to three professional sports teams, but only the Hurricanes won a major title (2006 in hockey).
44. NASCAR is the official sport of the state of North Carolina.
45. North Carolina has 301 miles of coast line, which is the 7th most in the nation.
46. A nuclear reactor was dedicated at North Carolina State University in 1953.
47. North Carolina was the 12th state admitted into the union, and the first to declare independence from England in 1775.
48. North Carolina has the tallest lighthouse in the nation – The Cape Hattaras Lighthouse
49. North Carolina also has the tallest waterfall in the eastern U.S. – Whitewater Falls in the Nantahala National Forest. It’s 811 feet tall.
50. The Venus Flytrap is native to Hampstead, North Carolina.

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends. .

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.