24 FUN & Interesting North Carolina Facts!

Looking for a few North Carolina facts? North Carolina is a special place with plenty of interesting history facts, fun general facts, and even a few fun things to know about food!

interesting North Carolina Facts 

why is north carolina called the Tarheel State?

north carolina facts

Shipwrights sought North Carolina’s grungier exports of tar, pitch, and turpentines after materials for shipbuilding. Harvesting the materials turned out to be a sticky process. It was common for a typical worker to leave with tar stuck underneath their shoes.

The tar worked its way into the state’s folklore. Soldiers from North Carolina developed a reputation during the revolutionary war. The State’s armadas didn’t know the word for retreat, instead sticking to the fight like they had tar on their feet.  

How about a Side of Sweet Potatoes?

As a sweet potato lover this is one of my favorite fun North Carolina facts! Over half of the sweet potatoes that wind up on plates around the country are grown in North Carolina. It’s a fitting location – the Central and Eastern parts of the state have plenty of flatland for potatoes to flourish in, and its southern charm provides a splash of sweet flavor. 

You can find them boiled, mashed, or fried in more than a few stops along your way from mountain to sea. 

north carolina is Craft Beer Capital 

North Carolina packs the highest concentration of breweries per capita in the south. The state has erected an entire month to give thanks to the imbibe every year in April. Asheville is the heart of the brewing industry for the state, but beer lovers can find high-quality establishments in every town with a general store. 

north carolina has the Oldest Public University 

The University of North Carolina opened its doors for classes for the first time in 1795 claiming the Nation’s Oldest Public University title. The university saw the nation’s first public graduates before the turn of the century and remains a prominent institution of higher learning. 

Folks started fast, and the university was officially chartered only one month after North Carolina became a state. 

north carolina is Home to America’s largest Mansion

The Biltmore Estate is one of the best things to do in Asheville was a pet project of early railroad tycoon George Vanderbilt. The captain-of-industry eventually amassed enough wealth to assemble the largest privately-owned house in the country. 

Architect Richard Hunt amassed four acres of floor space split into 250 rooms. Construction took six years, and the house has passed the test of time. The privately-owned mansion has over 75 acres open to the public where visitors are free to roam and marvel at the feat. 

12th State in the Union

North Carolina is the second to last of the 13 original colonies. They were also one of the final states to vote to succeed from the Union. North Carolina made its position known after the first shots of the Civil War had already been fired in April 1860. They were the 10th of 11 total states to depart from the union officially. 

Sweet Caroline

North Carolina owes its name to a Charles. King Charles I was the original English owner of the land, but he perished in an attempted coup attempt. His son fought and reclaimed the throne years later and wanted to re-establish legitimacy in the English royal family by remembering his father in the new world. 

Is A Pepsi Okay?

This fact about North Carolina may surprise you! Southern sweetness is the main ingredient in Pepsi-Cola. The beverage was experimented with and later perfected in North Carolina. It has spread across the world as a competitor of Coca-Cola from its New Burn origins. 

A pharmacist concocted the combination seeking to taste as good as industry leaders while staying healthy. Pepsi is now one of the widespread soda companies on the market. 

Sherman’s Retirement

The end of the Civil War took place in North Carolina. The most considerable Confederate regiment left, led by Joseph E. Johnston, surrendered to William Sherman and the Union army to effectively end the Civil War in 1865. 

After Johnston heard that Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia, Troops on the southern side lost all morale. The two generals took several meetings in modern-day Durham to decide on the terms of the surrender. 

Falling Water

One of the best things to do in North Carolina is chase waterfalls. Nobody is going to try to whitewater kayak down Whitewater falls. The cascades are proud to be the longest waterfall in the entire southeast – waterfalls over 800 feet in several sections down a tree-lined canyon in the Nantahala National Forest. Rainbows are often sighted from the viewing area at the bottom of the cascade. 

The falls are so big, the water starts falling in North Carolina, and some of it ends up falling into South Carolina. You’ll find waterfalls across various forestlands statewide!  

Highest Point East of the Mississippi

The Appalachian Mountains carve through most of NC’s western side. The mountain’s peak at Mount Mitchell, 6,684 feet above sea level. The mountain was known initially as Attakulla by the Cherokee Indians, but it was renamed after a University professor who first surveyed the mountain. 

The professor became entranced by the mountain, and that same mountain eventually took his life. The hill is now home to a funky mountain biking competition known as the Assault on Mount Mitchell, where riders come from across the country to try to conquer the 102 miles of sharp climbing and steep descents. 

Mount Mitchell is a popular hike in North Carolina. Hikers navigate miles of switchback turns to take a peak off the top and head carefully down Heartbreak ridge. 

A Graveyard At Sea

North Carolina’s Outer Banks juts out seawards at an angle that often turns out to be obtrusive. It is estimated that over 1,000 ships have disappeared heading out of Cape Hatteras, the Eastern-most section of North Carolina. 

Natural factors and nocturnal nuisances may have been large factors. Blackbeard spent 19 years pillaging ships heading in and out of port until British soldiers sank his ship off Ocracoke Island. 

Many pirates buried treasures on the coast’s outermost shores, and legend says there’s still plenty of treasure hidden underwater amongst the sunken ships. 

Lift Off! 

You’ll notice pretty quickly that North Carolina was first in flight. It often appears written on state license plates. The Wright Brothers took to the skies for the first time on the dune beaches of Kitty Hawk. The brothers chose the coast because it was nothing but flat, soft sand. 

In 1903, onshore winds, human ingenuity, and a little bit of gasoline sent the boys into the air for 12 seconds. A monument to the innovation of the Wright Brothers now shows where the plane launched from, and the area still boasts the same conditions, now ideal for kite flying. 

Sat down to Take A Stand

Four African American men took a seat at Woolworths’ whites-only Lunch Counter and refused to leave. Protestors occupied the counter for five months before the bar agreed to desegregate its seating arrangements. The sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, had an enormous impact on the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  

Six years after segregation was declared unconstitutional, black and white people still couldn’t sit together. These intrepid college students took a stand peacefully, and their message echoed for miles. 

First Colony

The first attempt at English settlement took place on Roanoke Island in 1587. The colony briefly flourished, even welcoming the first English settler born in the new world. The governor of the settlers returned to England on a supply run and was held up in his home country for three years.

When the governor finally returned, there was no trace of the colony. Historians are still trying to work out what happened to the first British Settlers, with new clues being discovered every year. Some call it the original true crime story. 

NC is the Furniture Capital Of The World 

High Point has taken a stand and declared itself the Furniture capital of the world. There’s no question the city churns out a large share of furniture manufacturing countrywide. The moniker is over 100 years old. High point had easy access to the Southern Railways, putting them in a great position to take advantage of a large amount of timber in the area.  

High Point still produces over six billion dollars of high-quality furniture sought after each year in luxury homes across the country.   

Hurricane Magnet

A hurricane hits North Carolina’s eastern beaches once every 3.44 years. The state has embraced the natural disaster, most prominently when they named the local hockey team the Carolina Hurricanes. 

The latest wrath mainly impacted Roanoke island, the Southern tip of the Outer Banks. The island was flooded during Hurricane Florence. The resilient communities of the area are accustomed to cleaning up after a mess. 

The House that Built Babe 

When Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville in 1914, he was still known as George. Mr. Ruth was initially given the nickname “Dunn’s baby,” which got quickly shortened as his name spread across the country. 

Ruth went on to amass the greatest career slugging percentage – a record that still stands today. Babe is known for pitching for the New York Yankees, but he got his start in North Carolina. 

Land of the Pines

The pine tree is North Carolina’s official State Tree. Eight different pine trees are indigenous to the state, and the trees are still heavily relied on in the state’s building industry. North Carolina’s western mountain ranges are covered in various pine species that give the area a unique feeling. 

The unique landscape is a frequent favorite subject of songwriters and poets when speaking about North Carolina. 

Presidential Upbringing

Three different presidents were born in North Carolina – James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson all served the highest office in the land after growing up in the tar heel state. Their home state influenced their decision-making and opinions on the future of the United States. 

President Polk was a big fan of manifest destiny and urged US citizens west by the thousands. Andrew Jackson is a controversial figure, revered by some and angered by others. Andrew Johnson was an ineffective replacement for Abraham Lincoln. 

Home of the Venus Flytrap

Venus is native to North Carolina, although they haven’t been very effective at getting rid of the flies. The traps once spread widely throughout North and South Carolina, but human impacts have led them to be listed as endangered plant. 

Several farms that specialize in raising the endangered plant hope to turn the tide on the struggle and produce high-quality Venus flytraps at the source. 

Up On Freedom Hill

When the civil war ended, freed slaves fighting for the union formed the first-ever city of freed slaves. They named their spot freedom hill, and it was officially recognized in 1885. The land was considered worthless to white inhabitants who gave it to soldiers who found themselves with new opportunities for self-improvement. 

The town was eventually renamed Princeville and still exists as the oldest town chartered by black people in America. 

Christmas is Always on the Mind

North Carolina grows 15-20% of the country’s douglas fir trees, often selected to sit by the fireplace until Christmas. The state’s western mountains make an excellent backdrop for fir growth, and the trees love the cooler winter temperature. 

A homegrown North Carolina Christmas tree takes 15 years from planting to harvest. Farms take up entire mountainsides where you can see the growth projection play out row by row. 

Thousands of Years of History 

Evidence of Native American clay pot points to inhabitants over 3,000 years old. When the Europeans landed on shore, they found a thriving community of 40,000 native North Carolinians split into three tribes – Tuscarora, Catawba, and Cherokee Indians lived in this state and multiple other smaller tribes. 

100,000 Native Americans still live in North Carolina. Most famously, the Seagrove Potters carry on the thousand-year-old traditional crafting methods to carry on their history. 

About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and seven continents. After, many years of international travel they settled down a bit and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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