The state of Pennsylvania is located in the northeastern part of the United States. It’s near the states of Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey. Pennsylvania is home to many famous music acts such as Freeway, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Uzi Vert, Khemist Mayfield, Hall & Oates, and Taylor Swift. Yet, the “Keystone State” has an illustrious American history and is an underrated state in the Northeastern states’ influence on different cultures in America today. Keep reading more to learn about several fun facts about Pennsylvania.
1. The Official State Nickname of Pennsylvania Is “The Keystone State”
Pennsylvania got the name “The Keystone State” because it was in the middle of the original thirteen colonies. Pennsylvania also held a significant influence on the economic, social, and political development of the United States. Their state song mentions the nickname in the second verse by saying “birthplace of a mighty nation, keystone of the land.”
2. Pennsylvania’s NFL Teams Were Once A Unified Football TeamEmbed from Getty Images
The two NFL teams in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, have been around for almost an entire century. Did you know that at one point in time, they were a unified football team? In 1943, many of the Eagles and Steelers players had to serve in World War 2. Since the two teams didn’t have enough manpower individually, they merged together for that season as The Steagles. They finished with a record of 5-4-1.
3. The State Is Famous For Their Philly CheesesteaksEmbed from Getty Images
Geno’s Steakhouse is a legendary staple in Philadelphia. Celebrities like rapper The Game and many tourists from everywhere visit Geno’s. But, the original cheesesteak comes from Pat Oliveri. Pat created the Philly Cheesesteak in 1930. Pat had a popular hot dog stand at the famous base of the famous Italian Market Stand in South Philly. He wanted to do something different one day and got some chopped meat from the butcher shop. Then, he cooked the chopped meat on the hotdog grill, placed it on his Italian roll, and dressed it with some onions. A cab driver saw what Pat made and insisted he make him one.
The steak sandwich was born after. It garnered popularity in the city. People asked for some change to it and Pat made the simple addition of cheese to the steak sandwich. And as they say, the rest was history. Pat’s King of Steak restaurant is still going strong to this day thanks to the Oliveri family for their continuous service to the legendary food spot.
4. The Official State Animal Is A Great Dane
The Great Dane is the official dog of Pennsylvania. The state’s founder, Willam Penn, owned a Great Dane which is a great hunting dog that’s also a solid working breed. Sometimes people call the Great Dane the “Apollo of Dogs” due to its massive size. Its origins come from Germany. They’re also excellent family pets and great with kids. Their genetics are tied to the European dog species of Irish Wolfhounds and English Mastiffs.
Pennsylvania also has an official state bird and that’s the Ruffed Grouse. The Ruffed Grouse is a medium-sized foul that was an important food source for settlers. The Brook Trout is the official state fish. It is a common fish in the Northeastern region of the United States.
5. The Chocolate Capital Is In Hershey, Pennsylvania
Many Americans associate the name “Hershey” with chocolate. How did that come to be? The great humanitarian and philanthropist Milton S. Hershey built his chocolate factory in the town known today as Hershey, Pennsylvania. Prior to the success of Hershey Chocolate, he had different candy-making ventures in Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago.
After several failed ventures in 1883, the fourth-grade dropout returned to Lancaster, PA. Then, he opened up the Lancaster Caramel Company which garnered much success. His infatuation for German chocolate began at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. He bought the equipment to make chocolate creations and went to Derry Church after selling his Lancaster Caramel Company in 1900 to pursue his chocolate-making endeavors. Milk chocolate was a Swiss luxury at the time and Hershey wanted to recreate it for the American demographic. The factory was completed in 1905, but Milton didn’t stop there.
Milton’s entrepreneurial spirit wanted to curate a community around the factory. He opened an amusement park in 1906. Not only that, he built a model town for his employees which featured at the time modern housing, inexpensive public transportation, recreational opportunities, and a good quality public school system. The town’s popularity grew more and more due to Milton’s contributions. In 1933, The Hotel Hershey opened its doors to visitors and natives of the young town.
6. The Origins of Groundhog Day Is Tied To Pennsylvania
Groundhog Day is tied to the legendary Punxsutawney Phil. It even influenced one of the greatest nineties movies and possibly Bill Murray’s Magnus Opus in the film Groundhog Day. The unusual tradition of whether a groundhog sees its shadow or not determining if people would have an extra few weeks of winter or not comes from Europe. It has Celtic origins. However, it was later picked up by the Germans. Rather than a groundhog, the Germans used a badger to determine if they would have extra weeks of winter or not. Don Yoder, author of the book Groundhog Day, further explained the origins in his book. Yoder stated:
The Handwörterbuch des Deutschen Aberglaubens, or the Dictionary of German Folk Belief, has an article on Lichtmess, or Candlemas. “Above all,” it says, “Candlemas is decisive for the weather of the coming time, and with it also for the fruitfulness of the year.” […] This European encyclopedia also cites the Dachs, or badger, as the Candlemas weather prophet throughout much of German-speaking Europe…. Dachstag, or Badger Day, is a German folk expression for Candlemas. The belief was […] if the badger encountered sunshine on Candlemas and therefore saw his shadow, he crawled back into his hole to stay for four more weeks, which would be a continuation of winter weather.Via Library of Congress Blog citing Don Yoder
Yoder’s research of the earliest mention of Groundhog’s day goes as far back as 1840. One Welsh-American reporter for Pennsylvania stated in his diary entry on February 2nd, “Today the Germans say the groundhog comes out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow, he returns in and remains there for forty days.”
The most famous annual Groundhog Day traditional viewing takes place at Punxsutawney, PA. Its origins go as far back as 1887. Members of the local Elks Lodge would consult a groundhog about the weather at the nearby Gobbler’s Knob. Men wearing formal suits and top hats circled around their unusual consultant. The groundhog was eventually named Punxsutawney Paul in the 1960s. Now that’s a very fun fact about Pennsylvania.
7. The Very First Computer Was Made In Pennsylvania
In 1943, The University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering started to work on the very first computer. John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the Moore School made the ENAIC computer. It was 1,000 times faster than any other previous computer prototype.
There is an ongoing debate about whether the original computer was made in Pennsylvania or Germany. Check out this timeline that shows the evolution of the computer before the 40s. The ENIAC used panel-to-panel wiring to do its operations. It occupied more than 1,000 square feet and weighed over thirty tons. Nowadays, computers are much smaller than that, fortunately.
8. It’s Home To One Of The Former Tallest Bridges In The World
The Kinzua Bridge was once the highest railroad viaduct in the world. It was first constructed in 1882. It’s an iron-built bridge that weighs three million pounds, is 301 feet tall, and 2,503 feet long. In 1909, the bridge had to be rebuilt in steel rather than iron to accommodate heavier trains and loads. The measurements remained the same, but it now weighed six million pounds.
The freight traffic was discontinued in 1959. Governor William Scranton made the bridge an official state park. The viaduct became recognized by the National Register of Historic Civil Engineering as a landmark in 1977.
9. The Oldest Gas Station In America Is In Pennsylvania
Reighard’s is the oldest gas station in America. People can visit the gas station in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The gas station started out as a blacksmith shop in the late 1800s. George Hinkle was the first owner of the gas station.
When the Ford T Model car was introduced to the world in 1908, George had the idea to sell gas at the blacksmith shop. He hoped that the gas-selling industry would thrive due to the introduction of the Ford T Model. It turned out to be a successful venture as the gas-selling industry boomed thanks to the technological advancements in the automotive industry. In 1931, George Reighard purchased the property and continued to run the gas station until Martin Oil Company took over in 1978. Martin Oil Company still operates the gas station today.
The gas station is in a historic area of Pennsylvania that’s Mansion Park. Reighard’s is near a unique railway called the Horseshoe Curve. The Horseshoe Curve railroad track helped in delivering gas tanks to the nearby gas station.
10. Pennsylvania Played A Massive Part In The Earlier Years Of The Oil Industry
The first purposefully dug oil well was dug by Colonel Edwin Drake in 1859 at Titusville Pennsylvania. Edwin worked with the Seneca Oil Company to capitalize on the discovery. For thousands of years, the Native Americans in the Pennsylvania area used oil seeped from the ground for everything from adhesive to waterproofing items. Europeans used whale oil for similar reasons.
However, in the mid-1800s, whale oil was becoming more and more expensive. The Europeans realized that if they distilled the oil, they could use it for their lanterns as kerosene. Edwin Drake started drilling in 1859 alongside the Venango County banks. Several months into the drilling, the Oil Company pulled out of the operation and he had to take a personal loan to finish the discovery. In August of 1859, he struck oil.
Like many booms during the time, the boom quickly died down by 1871. The oil wells were running dry and people went eastward toward Bradford, Pennsylvania. Bradford is home to the first billion-dollar oil field.
Drake Well Museum
Edwin Drake has a museum named after him and his oil contributions. The Drake Well Museum is located in Titusville, Pennsylvania. It has outdoor and indoor exhibits that tell the history of Drake’s oil well and the man behind the famous oil well. Artifacts from the well are at the museum. There is a rebuilt version of the well which shows how the drilling was done during the 1800s. Another exhibit there is the Silver Run Pump Station. The Silver Run Pump Station opened in 1894 and managed the pipelines for standard oil. It remained open in Franklin, Pennsylvania until 1968. Penzoil donated artifacts from the Silver Run Pump Station to the Drake Well Museum in 1981.
Another fun fact about Pennsylvania’s oil contributions is that the state produced more than seventy-five percent of the world’s oil in 1881.
11. Pennsylvania Is Home To The Second Most Baseball Hall Of Famers
This state is home to nineteen different Baseball Hall of Fame members. Some of them are Ed Walsh, Buddy Bell, Reggie Jackson, Bobby Wallace, Mike Mussina, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Plank, Christy Mathewson, Stan Musial, and Honus Wagner.
On to another sport, football. Pennsylvania is home to six Hall of Fame Football Quarterbacks. They are Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, and George Blanda. The Keystone State is also home to several different basketball legends. Some of them are Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Arizin, Jack Twyman, Pete Maravich, and Earl Monroe.
12. It’s Home To The Fourth Largest Stadium In The World
Beaver Stadium, the home of the Penn State Nittany Lions Football team, is the fourth largest stadium in the world. It opened in 1960 and still holds all the team’s home games to this day. The Beaver Stadium can fit 106,572 people. When it’s full, it has more people in the stadium than most of the cities in Pennsylvania. Only three cities have more people than how many people Beaver stadium can fit. There are only three stadiums that are larger than Beaver Stadium. The only one that’s larger in America is the Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan Stadium can fit 107,601 people. Then, there’s North Korea’s Rungrado 1st of May Stadium. That stadium can hold 114,000 people. Rungrado is used for many different purposes and sports. The largest stadium in the world belongs to India and the Narendra Modi Stadium. The Narendra Modi Stadium can hold up to one hundred thirty two thousand people. It’s mainly used for sepctating cricket games.
Summary Of The 12 Fun Facts About Pennsylvania
- The Official State Nickname of Pennsylvania Is “The Keystone State”
- Pennsylvania’s NFL Teams Were Once A Unified Football Team
- The State Is Famous For Their Philly Cheesesteaks
- The Official State Animal Is A Great Dane
- The Chocolate Capital Is In Hershey, Pennsylvania
- The Origins Of Groundhog Day Is Tied To Pennsylvania
- The Very First Computer Was Made In Pennsylvania
- It’s Home To One Of The Former Tallest Bridges In The World
- The Oldest Gas Station In America Is In Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Played A Massive Part In The Earlier Years Of The Oil Industry
- The State Has The Second Most Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees.
- It’s Home To The Fourth Largest Stadium In The World
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Belikova Oksana/Shutterstock.com
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