I’ve lived in Kentucky for over 16 years. During that time, I’ve learned a lot about my adoptive state, but I admit there are still many things about the Bluegrass State that I don’t know. One day back in March, my officemate at work who is a native Kentuckian shared a tidbit with me that surprised me, but also thoroughly entertained me. I thought I would pass on some of the tidbits about Kentucky that I've come to learn over the years. Enjoy!
Technically, Kentucky isn’t a state.
Like Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, Kentucky is a commonwealth. I’ve learned since living here, however, that most Kentuckians don’t know the difference between a state and commonwealth. After some research, I learned there really is no difference. The word commonwealth comes from colonial times. Kentucky once was a part of Virginia and Virginia was considered a commonwealth. When Kentucky was granted statehood on June 1, 1792 becoming the 15th state, it simply followed suit with Virginia and called itself a commonwealth.
The state capital is…
Lexington? Nope. Louisville? Nope. The capital is actually in Frankfort, which is located between the Lexington and Louisville along interstate 64. Louisville is the largest city in the commonwealth with approximately 1.5 million residents. Lexington, which is known as the thoroughbred capital of the world, is the second most populated city with 557,000 residents. Frankfort has a population of 27,000. Here's an interesting tidbit for ya -Frankfort was the only Union state capital to be occupied by the Confederate troops during the Civil War.
Everyone’s seen a rainbow, but have you seen a moonbow?
Yes, you read that correctly. In Kentucky, you have the opportunity, when the weather is cooperative, to see a moonbow. At Cumberland Falls, when the moon is full or almost full on clear nights, the moonlight reflects in the spray of the falls, creating a moonbow. It's the only place in the Western Hemisphere where a moonbow can be spotted on a regular basis.
If you think the official drink of Kentucky is bourbon, think again.
I was surprised by this one, for Kentuckians take their bourbon very seriously. There are over 20 bourbon distilleries in the state, ranging in size from smaller craft distilleries to larger world known distilleries such as Maker's Mark, Early Times, and Jim Beam. There is a county named Bourbon and bourbon is a main ingredient in the Mint Julep, the trademark drink of the Kentucky Derby. But, as it turns out, bourbon is not the official drink of the state, ahem, excuse me - commonwealth. Milk is. I know! Go figure! I feel safe in speculating that bourbon is probably the unofficial state drink.
Scott, Shelby, Simpson, Spencer, Taylor… Aw, man… I give up!
Kentucky has a staggering 120 counties. (Only Texas and Georgia have more with 254 and 159 respectively.) As a junior high student, I had to learn all 55 counties in West Virginia (where I lived). I had to name all of them and label them on a blank map of the state. I cannot even begin to imagine how to go about memorizing 120 counties. I often ask my husband, also a native Kentuckian, where “such and such county” is and his reply is, “I have no idea…”
Am I in Kentucky or in Europe?
In Kentucky, we have towns named London, Glasgow, Athens, and Versailles. But, don’t you dare pronounce the last town’s name like it’s pronounced in France, you know the namesake of the treaty that ended WWI. In France, Versailles is pronounced “ver-sigh.” But here in Kentucky, it’s pronounced “ver-sales.”
Post-it Notes are made at the 3M factory in Cynthiana. JIF peanut butter is made is Lexington. Apparently, the Lexington facility is the largest peanut butter factory in the world! The Corvette is made exclusively in Bowling Green. And 90% of the world's disco balls are made in Louisville!
Boxing great Muhammad Ali; Mr. Quarterback Johnny Unitas; NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip; country music stars Billy Ray Cyrus, Naomi and Wynona Judd (aka The Judds), and the original coal miner’s daughter, Loretta Lynn; former US Presidents Zachary Taylor and Abraham Lincoln; TV journalist Diane Sawyer; and Hollywood stars George Clooney, Ashley Judd, and Jennifer Lawrence were all born in Kentucky.
The ever growing cave
Kentucky is home to the longest cave system in the world, Mammoth Caves. Most of the caves are part of Mammoth Caves National Park. There are currently at least 400 miles of explored caves. Each year, new connected caves are discovered, making Mammoth Caves continually growing in size.
Attention all units! Attention all units!
In February 2015, during a bitter and brutal cold snap, the Harlan City Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Frozen's Queen Elsa of Airedale. The warrant was issued via Facebook and read, "Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song 'Let it Go!' As you can see by the weather, she is very dangerous." Within a few days, this story had made national news!
I hope you enjoyed my little piece on the Bluegrass State! As always, thanks for stopping by!
This is the eleventh of twenty-six alphabetized blog entries that I am publishing this month as a part of the 2016 Blogging A to Z Challenge. Many bloggers who participate in this challenge, select a theme. My theme is - "Whatever I Think Of."
For more information on the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, click here.