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 voting for the late Strom Thurmond strictly out of habit as we visit South Carolina. So let’s get started…
* South Carolina became the 8th state on May 23, 1788. The residents didn’t particularly WANT to share a name with North Carolina, but they had little choice after the naming-rights deal with Coca-Cola fell through.
* At 3560 feet tall, the highest point in South Carolina is Sassafras Mountain. No sassafras actually grows on it, it’s just a fun word to say. Especially with a big, spitty, Daffy Duck lisp: “THATHAFRATH!”
* The state motto of South Carolina is “Aminis Opibusque Parati”, which means “any excuse to shoot a Yankee”.
* The state tree of South Carolina is the Palmetto. Which should not be confused with any old men who carve wooden boys that magically come to life.
* Built in 1909, Campbell’s Covered Bridge near Gowensville is the last bridge in South Carolina still covered by a protective wooden structure instead of just a layer of cigarette butts and beer cans.
* The spotted salamander was selected as South Carolina’s official state amphibian in 1976, an unpopular decision which touched off deadly riots in the state’s frustrated and angry frog communities.
* In 1776, the British attacked the US fort on South Carolina’s Sullivan Island. However, because the walls were made with spongy Palmetto logs, the cannonballs couldn’t break through, and just bounced like Air America payroll checks.
* The official state dance of South Carolina is the Shag. As is the official state double-wide trailer carpeting.
* The first battle of the Civil War took place at Fort Sumter. Historians theorize that it started as an innocent Mac vs. PC argument which spun tragically out of control.
* Hartsville, South Carolina’s Coker Experimental Farms started in 1903 with 30 cotton plants and a goal to breed hardier specimens. Thanks to a lack of genetic variation among the seedlings, the highly inbred offshoots became the Retarded Monster Cotton Plant now used for stuffing Tickle Me Elmo dolls.
* Before being known as “The Palmetto State”, South Carolina used to be known as the Iodine state. For those who don’t know, Iodine is brown and hurts like hell when applied to open wounds. Sorta like a Jesse Jackson press conference.
* The Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in Aiken, South Carolina celebrates the many champion race horses trained in Aiken. The secret of their success can be found in their training motto, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you’ll be shipped to the glue factory if you screw up!”
* South Carolina’s Black River gets it’s dark coloring from high concentrations of organic carbon. Sorta like hippie bathwater. If hippies took baths.
* Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina, is home to the annual South Carolina Poultry festival and features such events as “Turkey-mounted Jousting” and the ever-popular “Stuffing Chickens Down Your Pants Contest”.
* A Catawba Indian named King Haiglar was invaluable in helping the early settlers of Camden, South Carolina. Today, he remains honored in the form of a life-sized weather vane. This may not sound like much of an honor, but at least they didn’t put him on a dollar coin that no one uses like that loser, Saca-what’s-her-name.
* Tyler Brothers Work Shoe and Boot Co. in Wagener, South Carolina produces 8 major brands of OSHA-approved footwear, including Redwing and Wolverine. They attribute their success to changing their name from “3-Toes BootWorks”.
* Gaffney, South Carolina features a water tower in the shape of a giant peach. In case it ever falls over, they plan to put it in their City Hall building, which was built in the shape of a giant crust-lined pie tin.
* The first boll weevil found in South Carolina is on display at the Pendleton District Agricultural Museum. It sits between the first mosquito to bite Strom Thurmond and a few dead flies picked off the window sill.
* Yeah, well, whaddya expect from an Ag Museum? Da Vinci paintings?
* Spartanburg, South Carolina’s Duncan Park is the oldest minor league baseball stadium in the world. During its 80th Anniversary season in 2006, it finally managed to break through the long-elusive double-digit attendance mark.
* Described as “a cross between a snake and something prehistoric”, the mysterious monster that is said to inhabit South Carolina’s Lake Murray was eventually caught and discovered to be a skinny-dipping Ted Kennedy.
* Mullins, South Carolina, features the state’s largest tobacco market. To compensate for financial losses due to anti-tobacco hysteria, the city has branched out into the lead paint, asbestos, and DDT markets as well.
* Residents of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, are all well versed in the 300-year-old art of Sweetgrass basket-making. Sure, this doesn’t sound like it’d look good on a resume, but it’ll get you picked over someone with a degree in Women’s Studies EVERY time.
* Every year, flocks of Purple Martins fly back to their home on Bomb Island, South Carolina. The sight of millions of creatures mindlessly chirping and crapping all over the place is truly stunning. It’s sorta like an Occupy Wall Street protest, except without the stultifying air of smug self-righteousness.
* The Riverbanks Zoological Park in Columbia, South Carolina is home to over 2000 animals, none of which are in cages. They’re kept in place with guilt trips from a crack staff of professional Jewish mothers.
* Legend has it that anyone who drinks from Catfish Creek near Marion, South Carolina will fall in love with the area and never leave. Which is polite way of saying they’re doomed to die of amoebic dysentery.
* In 1852, William Dorn discovered the largest gold mine in South Carolina’s history near the city of McCormick. He foolishly sold the mine in 1860, and used the proceeds to launch his ill-fated chain of “Slaves ‘R’ Us” stores.
* South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, on December 20th, 1860, thus fulfilling Governor Jebidiah Baldwin’s promise to leave the country if a Republican was elected.
* The 7th President of the US, Andrew Jackson, was born in Lancaster County, South Carolina. He earned his nickname “Old Hickory” when he used a hickory switch to beat the crap out of Alexander Hamilton to win the right to appear on the $20 bill.
* The Reverend Jesse Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1941. He’s famed for his ability to use racial guilt to shake down “too white” corporations, and is generally considered the John Gotti of the Affirmative Action Mafia’s protection money racket.
* Oops… meant to type “famous civil rights leader”… sorry ’bout that.
That wraps up the South Carolina edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States. Next week we’ll be trampled by herds of stampeding prairie dogs as we visit South Dakota.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go practice my jousting.
[The complete e-book version of “Fun Facts About the 50 States” is now available at Amazon.com. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free Kindle apps for your web browser, smartphone, computer, or tablet from Amazon.com]