You might have heard some strange names for states. Some examples are “the Peach State” or “the Lone Star State“. These are state nicknames.
Despite all 50 states being a part of one country, each state is different and has its own history, traditions, and uniqueness. Some nicknames are old, some are new, some are obvious, and others not so much, but all of them can tell you why a state is unique.
This is the first part of a two-part post “State Names“.
Alabama: Heart of Dixie
Alabama is in the middle of the South (called Dixie) of the US and therefore in the heart of it.
Alaska: The Last Frontier
It is the least densely populated of the U.S. states and is still considered wild and full of adventures.
Arizona: The Grand Canyon State
The Grand Canyon, a world-famous landmark, lies in the north of Arizona and gives this state its official nickname.
Arkansas: The Natural State
This relatively new nickname celebrates the state’s beautiful natural landscapes. It became Arkansas’ official nickname in 1995.
California: The Golden State
California was in the center of the Gold Rush became synonymous with gold mining. Beautiful golden yellow flowers also cover the state each spring.
Colorado: The Centennial State
Colorado is called the Centennial State because it joined the USA in 1876, 100 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Connecticut: The Constitution State
Connecticut considers its founding document, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, to be the first written constitution in U.S. history. It was written in 1639 while the Constitution was written in 1787.
Delaware: The First State
Delaware’s nickname refers to it being the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
Florida: The Sunshine State
Florida sees sunshine and nice weather for about 80% of the year, giving the state this nickname.
Georgia: The Peach State
The peach is Georgia’s official state fruit and has been important to the state’s agriculture.
Hawaii: The Aloha State
One of the happiest states in America, Hawaii’s nickname underlines its hospitality and the culture of native Hawaiians (who greet each other with the word “aloha”).
Idaho: The Gem State
This nickname refers to the large deposits of silver, gold, and gems that can be found in Idaho.
Illinois: The Prairie State
Back in the 19th century, Illinois was covered in prairie grass; the nickname reminds everyone of that.
Indiana: The Hoosier State
There are many theories on where this nickname comes from. One is that it was a popular reaction to an uninvited knock on the door: “Who’s yere?” which later turned into “Hoosier”.
Iowa: The Hawkeye State
This nickname is a tribute to Chief Black Hawk, who was the leader of the native American Sauk tribe that was relocated to Iowa after losing the fight over their territory with American settlers.
Kansas: The Sunflower State
Kansas has so many sunflowers, that it became the official state flower of Kansas and appears on the state flag as well as being in the nickname.
Kentucky: The Bluegrass State
Kentucky’s nickname refers to its well-known tall grass with a bluish hue.
Louisiana: The Pelican State
Louisiana is so proud of its unique brown pelican that it put the bird on the state flag and state seal.
Maine: The Pine Tree State
Maine has some of the most beautiful forests in the US, and the pine tree is on Maine’s flag and seal.
Maryland: The Old Line State / Free State
No one knows where this nickname comes from, but some believe that it refers to the “old line” of Maryland soldiers who fought bravely during the American Revolution. “The Free State” comes from a series of articles from the 1920s that claimed Maryland would secede from the union rather than prohibit the sale of alcohol.
Massachusetts: The Bay State
The 5 bays — Massachusetts Bay, Quincy Bay, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay — are most defining natural feature of Massachusetts.
Michigan: The Great Lakes State / Wolverine State
Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes, making one of its nicknames obvious. Although there are no wolverines in Michigan, it’s probably known as the Wolverine State due to the large number of furs that were traded and moved through the state.
Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Lakes
This is another obvious nickname—Minnesota has a very large number of lakes; 11,842 to be exact.
Mississippi: The Magnolia State
The magnolia has become synonymous with Mississippi and serves as the official state tree and state flower.
Missouri: The Show-Me State
This nickname represents the simple, common sense of Missourians. In 1899, a Representative of the state said: “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”