Welcome to Fun Facts About the 50 States, where – week by week – I’ll be taking you on a tour around this great nation of ours, providing you with interesting, yet completely useless and probably untrue, information about each of the 50 states.
This week, we’ll be making a brief stop at a drive-thru Elvis wedding chapel as we cruise through Nevada. So let’s get started…
* Nevada became the 36th state on October 31st, 1864, and immediately joined the Civil War on the side of the West – which favored slavery, but opposed letting little girls from Kansas kill witches for their shoes.
* The state bird of Nevada is the Mountain Bluebird. Despite their small size, they are amazingly strong and frequently seen working as casino bouncers.
* The winner of the Nevada Governor’s race is determined by a contest to see who can drink the most martinis without groping a waitress.
* Which may explain why Schwarzenegger ran in California.
* The first slot machine was invented in Reno, Nevada in 1899 by Charles Fey, who got the idea after spending an hour feeding coins into a broken Coke machine.
* “Bertha, the Performing Elephant” entertained for 37 years at the Nugget Casino in Sparks, Nevada, which at the time billed itself as “Home of the World’s Largest Stripper Pole”.
* Pershing County, Nevada has the only round courthouse in the US. This allows criminals to be strapped to the giant, floor-mounted, “Wheel O’ Justice”.
* Nevada formally legalized gambling in the state in 1931 as part of a broad strategy aimed at stopping the flood of illegal Amish immigrants sneaking across their borders.
* The state motto of Nevada is “WOO-HOO! Legal Hookers!”
* Native to Death Valley, Nevada, the Kangaroo Rat can go its entire life without ever drinking. They are nicknamed “Kennedy Rats” for the same reason fat guys are nicknamed “Slim”.
* Wyatt Earp started his career as a lawman as Sheriff of Tonopah, Nevada. He was most famous for his OK Corrall gunfight against Kirk, Spock, Scotty, & McCoy.
* The Icthyosaur was chosen as Nevada’s state fossil in 2004, narrowly defeating the second-place choice of Don Rickles.
* The bells in Austin, Nevada’s St. Augustine church tower are rung by pulling a rope located in the men’s restrooms. Which is slightly less bizarre than the condom dispensers in the confessionals.
* Nevada takes its name from a Spanish word meaning “Which one’s Siegfried?”.
* Nevada’s climate encompasses both burning deserts and frozen mountain tops, which is why Nevada’s license plates say “Nevada – it’s like living in fried ice cream!”.
* Shrouded in mystery just outside of Rachel, Nevada, is the government installation known as “Area 51″. What happens there is so Top Secret that not even the New York Times knows what’s going on.
* Either that, or leaking it won’t aid any terrorists, so they just don’t care.
* Elko, Nevada hosts the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering. First prize is a trip for two to Brokeback Mountain with the second-place winner.
* Eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes bought numerous casinos in Nevada before his death in 1976. Although these purchases were considered highly speculative at the time, they were still more sensible than investing in caves and black tights like that lunatic, Bruce Wayne.
* Nevada’s gold mines produced over 7 million ounces of gold last year. If it were all hammered into fine gold leaf, it would be enough to completely cover a room the size of Donald Trump’s ego.
* Nevada has some 50,000 miles of paved roads. None of which can get an acting job after appearing in “Lethal Weapon 4″.
* Located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, the Hoover Dam contains 3.25 billion cubic yards of concrete, and a couple of guys from Jersey who talked too much.
* Nevada’s State Highway 50 features a stretch of nearly 300 miles with no rest stops. While driving it, motorists are cautioned to ignore any signs offering “Free Bird Seed!” and to beware of falling coyotes.
* Las Vegas, Nevada is home to an entire museum devoted to the life & times of Liberace. Who was NOT gay, despite the impression given by his noticable lisp, sequined fur-coats, and numerous sexual encounters with other men.
* Camels were used as pack animals in Nevada until 1870, when they were finally freed from slavery by a smooth character named Joe.
* Las Vegas, Nevada has more hotel rooms than any other city in the world, each containing a copy of the “Gideon’s Bible – Texas Hold-‘em Version”.
* The longest Morse Code telegram ever sent was the Nevada state consitution, sent from Carson City, Nevada, to Washington, D.C. in 1864. Inexplicably, it contained over 200 instances of the mysterious phrase, “Come onnnnnn, SEVEN!”
* Andre Agassi was originally an Elvis impersonator in his home town of Las Vegas, Nevada, but moved on to professional tennis after realizing that he’d never be able to duplicate the King’s fearsome backhand.
* Construction worker hard hats were invented specifically for Hoover Dam workers in 1933, replacing the outdated protective measure of strapping an illegal Amish immigrant to your head.
That wraps up the Nevada edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States. Next week we’ll be making that always-difficult choice between living free or dying as we take a look at New Hampshire.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go “ring St. Augustine’s bells”… if ya know what I mean…
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