Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Kentucky Fun Facts: Natural Wonders and Notable Distinctions

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, I covered the life and history of Daniel Boone, a famous Kentucky pioneer. If you missed that post, you can read it here. This month, I decided to share a few fast facts and little tidbits about Kentucky itself. So, here we go!


To begin, I thought it would be fun to share the five (5) different way of pronouncing the state's largest city: Louisville. They are: Louie-Ville, Luis-Ville, Loo-a-Vull, Loo-A-Ville, and Luhvul. Try each one out for yourself. See which one rolls off the tongue the smoothest. Me? I'm either Louie-Ville or Loo-a-Vull, depending upon my mood and audience. :)

Now, believe it or not, Kentucky was actually a country before it was a state in the U.S. Prior to the Revolutionary War, only the thirteen colonies existed as official designations from England. Other areas of this land, though, had been established as well. Kentucky began as a country delineated by the rivers and mountains as its borders. After the war, it became part of Virginia but soon decided it wanted a better government, so it applied for statehood. The city of Louisville was named after King Louis XIV, who came to their aid during the Revolutionary War. So, officially, the city's pronunciation is more in line with the king for which it was named. Locals, however, might have other opinions!

Moving ahead to the next war in the U.S., Kentucky is sadly the state with the highest number of casualties from the War of 1812, over half of the total from all troops who served. There were about twenty-four thousand (24,000) who died, which accounts for about 64% of the total deaths. For the next fifty (50) years, patriots from all over the state continued to fight for and protect the U.S. Although Kentucky sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, the population here was deeply divided, and many Kentucky residents actually fought for the North.

Outside of war, Kentucky has become quite famous for a number of record-breaking things. For instance, did you know Kentucky touches seven (7) other U.S. states (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia)? It is second only to Missouri and Tennessee, which are tied in first place with 8 border states each.

It is also second (2nd) only to Alaska with the most miles of running water! Hard to believe, isn't it? The diverse rivers and waterways unfold to a length of 1,068 commercially navigable miles which is over 1,770 kilometers.

Nestled in and among all that water is an immense forest rich with natural resources and breath-taking waterfalls. One of those waterfalls is nicknamed "the Niagara of the South" or "Little Niagara," and is found along the Cumberland River just west of Corbin, which also happens to be my home. Not only does more than 1,000 cubic feet of water flow over the falls every second, but these falls have the distinction of being one (1) of only seven (7) places in the world to produce a moonbow from the water's reflection of the moonlight! This is due to the direction the waterfall faces in relation to the moon and how the light hits the falls. Rainbows are popular and common with waterfalls, but moonbows are quite rare. Color cannot be captured with a standard camera or cell phone. You need a long exposure from a tripod-mounted SLR camera and a lot of patience. You also need a full moon and a clear sky.

If you're a fan of natural wonders, Kentucky is also home to the largest and longest cave system in the world! Mammoth Cave is a national park in central Kentucky, and it's also one of the oldest tourist attractions, having received its national park distinction on July 1, 1941. My family will be visiting there in August this year, so I'll be sure to throw in some photos here as a little bonus.

And finally, before I drop a few fast facts, I can't conclude these notable distinctions without mentioning the world's second largest fast food chain. I could probably wager a bet that every single person reading this post has had at least one meal here in his/her lifetime. It's the chain that bears the state's name and features a favorite American food: Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC trademark and image of Colonel Sanders have been with the restaurant from the start, which occurred in the town of Corbin on September 24, 1952. Today, there are over 20,000 restaurants around the world, and the combination of special ingredients in its original recipe is (say it with me) "finger-lickin' good!"

By the way, there is only one location here in Corbin, and it's on the original site where Colonel Sanders founded the restaurant alongside a local gas station. Today, it's marked by the Sanders Café and Museum attached to a KFC restaurant. People travel from all over the world to this spot and claim the chicken made here is the best KFC they've ever had. I definitely prefer it to even the locations in London and Williamsburg to the north and south of Corbin, but you'll have to come for a visit and try it yourself to see if you agree. (winks)

Here we go with some fast facts:

  • Known primarily as an agricultural area into the 20th century, Kentucky is also a major U.S. coal producer.
  • The U.S. military bases Fort Knox and Fort Campbell are found in Kentucky.
  • Bluegrass music is famous in Kentucky, pioneered by Kentucky native Bill Monroe. He was a mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, and the music style originated in the Appalachian region of southeast Kentucky.
  • Thomas Edison once worked at a Western Union office in Louisville and had no intention of leaving, but he was fired when he accidentally spilled sulfuric acid on his boss's furniture. Of course, he soon became a famous inventor, so it all worked out!
  • Mother's Day originated in Kentucky. Mary Towles Sasseen celebrated the first mother’s day to honor her mother. The recognition goes to her in 1887 as the founder of Mother’s Day.
  • The tune of "Happy Birthday to You" was written by two Kentuckian sisters. The American songwriter Mildred Hill, along with her sister Patty Hill, wrote the music that is now world-famous.
  • Bowling Green has the world's only Corvette plant.
  • The 3M plant in Cythiana is the only one that produces the legendary Post-It Notes.
  • Black Mountain is the highest point in Kentucky at 4, 145 feet right near the border with Virginia.
  • The state bird is the Kentucky cardinal.
  • The state's nickname is given because of the unique grass that grows here. It appears blue in the springtime because of the buds that grow amidst the blades.

Last but not least, I am leaving you with an astounding yet comical fact. There are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than the total number of its state citizens.

Yes, you read that right. I kid you not. More than 7.5 million barrels of bourbon are here in Kentucky, and the barrel inventory of Kentucky is one of the highest inventories in the world. The number of state citizens? Just 4.5 million.


* What tidbits or notable things can be found in YOUR state?

* Have you ever visited Kentucky? Where did you go and what did you see?

* Which fact about Kentucky was your favorite from today's post?

Leave answers to these questions or any comments you might have on this post in the box below. Come back on the 9th of April to learn about The Kentucky Derby.

For those interested in my "fictional" life as an author and industry news about other authors, subscribe to my newsletter. Receive a FREE omitted chapter from my book, A Grand Design, just for subscribing!

Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help improve their lives in a variety of ways.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children and two cats in Kentucky. She has sold twenty-four (24) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. Thanks for posting! It was fun to learn all of those things. The most chuckle-worthy was the number of barrels of bourbon being more than the population! I've never visited, I think it would be great to see "Little Niagara". I haven't had a full cup of coffee yet, so the only fun facts I can come up with quickly about Maine are that the state bird is the chickadee, there are several places in the state that make Christmas trees out of lobster crates and fishing buoys, and there has been fierce debate over whether our state dessert should be blueberry pie or the whoopie pie! In 2011 the blueberry pie won, but it is has to be made with wild blueberries to qualify as Maine-worthy.

    1. Connie, I still laugh over that discovery regarding the bourbon barrels. Then again, considering how much pride this state takes in its bourbon, I'm not surprised. I have yet to go on one of the "bourbon trails," but I intend to do so this year.

      Thanks for sharing about Maine. Christmas trees out of lobster crates and fishing buoys is great! Sure hope blueberry pie wins, although whoopie pie would be quite comical. :)

  2. Loved this post. So interesting. Illinois has a rich history. The Southern part of the state was settled first and Chicago didn't exist until the Erie Canal was created bring more trade through the waterways near Chicago. There were as many gangsters in Willimason county (Southern Illinois) as in Chicago. And Southern Illinois was called Little Eqypt when its farmers supplied the northern portion and other states with food during a drought. Each county has its own rich history. I'd like to see more of these state articles. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Cindy, thanks for sharing a little about Illinois. I'm not surprised to learn the southern part of the state was settled before Chicago, considering the struggle to get supplies across the Great Lakes or even to that region prior to the railroad and the Erie Canal. Rich history indeed!

  3. Texas has so much history and interesting facts that it is a course in itself for middle schoolers and they take a long, 2 day field trip to learn more and visit some of the places. Back in the 1950's, we visited Mammoth Cave on a family vacation. I don't remember a lot about it except it was big and beautiful and dark. I had heard about the bourbon number, but wasn't sure if it was true. Loved seeing Kentucky all those years ago before interstates when you could really see the country and the beautiful scenery. Thanks for bringing up some fond memories.

    1. Martha, I'm not surprised it takes a full course to learn about Texas history, with it being so big. A 2-day field trip to visit the places covered in that history sounds like so much fun! I remember learning local history for Delaware and the surrounding regions, but it was the field trips and seeing things first-hand in person that cemented the details or information in my mind. You're quite welcome for jogging some fond memories from your childhood. :)

  4. This is a very interesting post today. Welcome and thank you for sharing these facts. Which fact about Kentucky was your favorite from today's post? I enjoyed it all but especially about "more barrels of bourbon than citizens"
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    1. Lori, isn't that a hoot? Definitely shows where the states priorities are. ;)