Fun and Amazing Facts About the United States (part 2)

Edgar Allan Poe was once an army cadet at West Point. *The first American poet to achieve any notoriety was an African female slave named Phillus Wheatly. One of her poems was first published when she was 13. She wrote a poem about George Washington and later met him. She died tragically at the age of 30 in 1784. * Ben Franklin composed his own epitaph when he was 22 years old. * Charles Lindbergh was not the first person to fly across the Atlantic. He was the first to make it alone. 2 Brits did it in 1919, and 2 weeks later U.S. Navy pilots did the same thing! What is amazing is that nobody remembers them!

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Amelia Earhart was the first female to fly across the Atlantic, once as a passenger, and once as a solo pilot. She was the first to fly solo from California to Hawaii, and the first to fly solo from Mexico City to New Jersey. * Harry S. Truman was the only president in this century who didn’t have a college education. * During the Civil War, more soldiers died of disease than they did from gunshots and fighting. * Maine is the only state in the lower 48 that touches only one other state. * Long before the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay became a prison, it was used as a military fort. Shortly prior to this, the first light house located on the West Coast was built here in 1854. * In 1924, 14 buffalo were taken to Catalina Island off the coast of California.

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They were used in a movie, “The Vanishing American.” The buffalo were left behind, the herd grew larger, and today about 250 still roam free on the island. During later years, the population has been “controlled”. * In 1940, Maurice and Richard McDonald opened a barbecue car-hop type restaurant located in San Bernardino, Ca. Shortly after W.W.II, they paired the menu down to offer burgers, fries, and shakes.  Ray Croc, a restaurant appliance salesman, was baffled as to why they needed so many milk shake makers.  He found out soon enough. Franchise rights were sold in 1955, and Ray Croc opened one up in Des Plaines, Ill. This was his first, but actually the 9th McDonalds. And the rest, as they say, is history. A museum has recently opened up at the original location-14th and E streets in San Bernardino. * Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator, had visited Hawaii and became aware of its beauty. He lived most of his life on the East Coast, however. When he was ill and weeks away from dying, he checked himself out of a New York hospital and  traveled to Hawaii. He made plans for his burial, and when he died he was buried at a site on Maui. (Yes he is still there today.) * Los Angeles was not as “tall” as other large cites, and sprawls for miles. One reason is that before 1957, there was a law against any building having more than 13 stories. They were afraid of earthquakes.  City Hall, built in 1927, was the lone exception.  This is the building that dominates the skyline in the old Dragnet andSuperman TV series. Today, it seems quite hidden. * According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 140 towns and cities in the U.S.that have the word “Christmas” in their names. * General Motors, in 1954, became the first corporation in the U.S. to have $1 billion in net income. * The Poinsettia  plant was named after Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the early 1800’s. He “discovered” them in Mexico in 1825. * In 1971, cigarette ads were banned from television in the U.S. * The largest free-swinging bell will be located in Kentucky. It is being cast in France and will weigh 33 tons. It is for a monument to the new millennium. * The first two navel orange trees in the U.S. were from Brazil and planted inRiverside, California, about 1875. Virtually all navel oranges grown in the U.S. are offspring from these trees. One of the original trees was replanted by Teddy Roosevelt in in 1903 but died. The other is still alive today in a park in Riverside! * The first holiday celebrated nation wide in the U.S. was the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration, April 30,1889. * You don’t need to travel out of the country to see one of  Egypt’s ancient ruins. A 3,000 year old obelisk, named Cleopatra’s Needle is located in New York‘s Central Park. Stands about 66 feet tall, weighs somewhere near 220 tons. It was given as a gift of friendship in 1879. Its “sister” is in London. It was a “monumental” task to bring it here! * John F. Kennedy is the only president to have died before his parents. * The largest oil-producing field in the lower 48 states is in Taft, California. * The spillway over Shasta Dam in Redding, California creates the world’s largest man-made waterfall at 438 feet. * The crookedest street in the world is Snake Alley, located in Burlington, Iowa. * The first motel was built in San Luis Obispo, California during the 1920’s when the Motor Inn merged the two words, motor and hotel. It is still there today!

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