Alabama has a certain charm that demands recognition beyond underestimating it as “a farming state.”
Not only are there many historical and cultural facts surrounding this state, but there are also uncommon facts that are bound to surprise non-Alabamans.
Here are 58 interesting Alabama facts that would surprise you!
Interesting Alabama Facts: 1 – 5 | History and Landmarks
1. The French maybe have settled in Alabama, but they were not the first Europeans to enter Alabama. In fact, it was the Spaniards who came first in 1540.
2. The Confederate flag was designed and raised in Alabama in 1861.
3. Alabama’s state insect is Monarch butterfly .
4. Alabama was the fourth state to secede from the Union in January of 1891.
5. Many historians debate on the “correct” spelling of the state since the Native American settling tribe spelled the names differently from Alibamo or Alibamu to Alabamon. However, a Choctaw scholar theorized that the name comes from the world alba (vegetation) and amo (to clear something up.)
Interesting Alabama Facts: 6 – 10 | History and Landmarks
6. A big piece of Civil War history began at Montgomery on April 11, 1861, when Confederate Secretary of War LeRoy Pope Walker, a Huntsville native, sent a telegram that authorized the attack on Fort Sumter. The historical marker in Montgomery is a popular tourist spot as the contents of the telegram is displayed.
7. The Apollo 11 mission was a success thanks to the Saturn V that was built in Huntsville. This fact was not widely publicized at that time because the designer for the Saturn V was Wernher von Braun, a former Nazi scientist.
8. Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as a legal holiday in 1836. To put it in perspective, the United States did not recognize Christmas as a legal holiday until 1870. Talk about being ahead of the pack!
9. In Cullman, there is a city that was built within a city by a hunchback monk by the name of Brother Joseph Zoettl. The Ave Maria Grotto is a popular tourist destination.
10. Mardi Gras may be fun in New Orleans, but we have Mobile, Alabama, to thank for it, seeing as they were the first one to celebrate Mardi Gras in 1703. Presently, their Mardi Gras is comparatively wholesome, and instead of throwing bead necklaces, they throw out moon pies.
Interesting Alabama Facts: 11 – 15 | History and Landmarks
11. On August 5, 1864, Admiral David Farragut sent out his famous command, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” during the Battle of Mobile Bay.
12. Blount County is considered the oldest county, considering that it as founded in 1818, making the county even older than Alabama.
13. Fort Morgan was named after Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan. In 1960, Fort Morgan was named a National Historic Landmark. Fort Morgan is open for tourists and history buffs.
14. A prehistoric man’s skeleton was found in Russell Cave.
15. Many people believed that the black widow spider is not harmless. In 1933, a University of Alabama professor volunteered to let a black widow spider bite him. After three days of excruciating pain, they were able to record important data.
Interesting Alabama Facts: 16 – 20 | Notable Figures
16. There are a plethora of musical icons that hail from the lovely south state. The popular ones are gospel group – The Blind Boys of Alabama, a blues rocks band called the Alabama Shakes, and the eighties cult classic that is simply named Alabama.
17. Dr. Luther Leonidas Hill Jr. was the first to perform open-heart surgery in the western world. This all took place in Montgomery.
18. Hellen Keller, the first blind and deaf person to earn a college degree, hails from Tuscumbia, Alabama.
19. Rosa Parks was known as the “mother of civil rights movement” for her brave act of refusing to move her seat in the heat of racial tension, but she was not the first. Almost a year before Rosa Parks, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move to the back of the bus. Popular opinion states that her defiant act, though brave at that time, landed her in jail and did not make a good role model for the civil rights movement.
20. Mary Anderson, a Greene County resident, invented the windshield wipers after seeing how hazardous it was for drivers to lean out the window to wipe the windshields during rain.
Interesting Alabama Facts: 21-26 | Notable Figures
21. An Alabaman by the name of George Frederick Kirchoff Jr. invented the airbag after nearly four decades of development. He is lauded as the “father of airbags.”
22. The Wright brothers opened the first civil aviation school in Montgomery in 1910.
23. Miss Baker, a Huntsville resident, became the first monkey to survive a space expedition in 1959. The Huntsville citizens recognize and honor her contributions to science.
24. The first African American woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was born in Birmingham, Alabama .
25. Martin Luther King Jr. started his pastoral career in a church in Montgomery.
26. Carl Lewis was a track-and-field athlete. This Birmingham native made Alabama proud with his nine Olympic gold, one Olympic silver, and ten World Championship medals.
Interesting Alabama Facts: 27 – 30 | Iconic Musicians
27. Nat King Cole was a popular singer back when our parents were teenagers. The “Unforgettable” singer was known for hit songs like “The Christmas Song,” “L-O-V-E,” and the most popular of them all, “When I Fall In Love.”
28. Lionel Richie is a singer and songwriter born in Tuskegee, Alabama. Aside from his popular “Hello” song, he has other great hits such as “Endless Love,” “Stuck on You,” and “Say You, Say Me.”
29. Praised as “the most popular black female recording artist of the fifties,” Dinah Washington’s self-proclaimed title of “Queen of the Blues” was well-deserved. This singer-pianist is a Tuscaloosa native.
30. The “Margaritaville” singer had big hits like “Come Monday,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and everyone’s favorite Jimmy Buffet song, “All Night Long.
Interesting Alabama Facts: 31 – 34 | Famous Authors
31. Michael McDowell has been lauded as one of the frontrunners for the horror genre. He’s famous for writing the screenplay for Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas for Director Tim Burton, along with writing for Thinner, a Stephen King novel with the same title. He also wrote the teleplay for eleven episodes of Tales from the Darkside.
32. Pulitzer Prize winner Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama. Harper Lee is the author of the ubiquitous, best-selling novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
33. Truman Capote, author of the popular novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is not only Harper Lee’s best friend, but he is also another author that hails from Alabama.
34. John Green, the author behind a hit novel The Fault in Our Stars, is a proud Alabama native. John made his fellow Alabamans proud when his highly acclaimed novel was turned into a film in 2014.
Interesting Alabama Facts: 35 – 42 | Movie and Pop Culture Facts
35. “Sweet Home Alabama” was more than just a song written and performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd, it’s an actual location! In the corner of Arlington Avenue and 19th Street South in Bessemer, H. W. Sweet tasked William E. Benns to build the house in 1906. The house still stands to this day and is a must-see place for tourists and history buffs.
36. At a small establishment in Abbeville, the firearm used to shoot the innocent dog from the movie Old Yeller is displayed on the wall as part of the owner’s movie memorabilia.
37. If you are familiar with the movie franchise Pirates of the Caribbean, then you would recognize the iconic vessel known as the Black Pearl. This ship was built in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, by the Steiner Shipyard.
38. If you think the groundhog in the classic 1993 film Groundhog Day was impressive, wait ’til you see Alabaman groundhogs Birmingham Bill and Smith Lake Jake along with their weather-predicting possum friend Sand Mountain Sam. Just make sure you will not be stuck in a time loop!
39. What do the cities Mobile and Theodore; Camden and Birmingham; and Cheaha State Park have in common? They are the filming locations for three, yes, three Bigfoot movies! The movies are Night Claws (2012), Hunting the Legends (2014), and Nigel and Oscar vs. Sasquatch (2016), respectively.
40. Disney Channel superstar Debbie Ryan is a certified Alabaman. You may have seen her in TV shows like Jessie, The Suite Life on Deck, and Wizards of Waverly Place. The Insatiable star is a proud Huntsville resident.
41. On-screen cutie Johnny Simmons hails from Montgomery. You may have seen this Alabaman star from his debut film Evan Almighty.
42. People often mistake Channing Tatum’s hometown, but the 22 Jump Street actor is actually from Cullman, Alabama!
Interesting Alabama Facts: 43 – 50|Miscellaneous Facts
43. Harland Sanders, popularly known as “Colonel Sanders,” was an Alabama resident who worked as an assistant to a blacksmith in the Southern Railway in Sheffield.
44. The World’s Smallest Museum, a literal closet exhibit dedicated to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, is located in The Flowers of University Place Middle School in Tuscaloosa.
45. According to the entries in the Rand McNally Road Atlas, if you arrange all the states and cities in the United States, Abbeville, Alabama, would be number one on the list.
46. A Red Pyle chicken named “Matilda” was recently listed the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest chicken at sixteen years old. The chicken hailed from Birmingham, Alabama.
47. Something strange always happens after a storm, but at Coalburg, Alabama, something out of the ordinary happened on May 2, 1892 — it rained eels! What really chilled everyone to the bone was the fact that the eels were labeled “unknown” for species and origins by the locals.
48. Billionaire George Barber commissioned Mark Cline to replicate the iconic Stonehenge in his property around Barber Marina in Elberta. It is also worthy to note that he commissioned the same artist to create four dinosaur statues to scale around his property. Residents claim not being able to see the statues from afar, so they often get frightened when they encounter the statues out of nowhere.
49. Huntsville is often called the unofficial nickname “Rocket City U. S. A.” because it was the facility where they built the Saturn V.
50. The Vulcan statues in Birmingham, Alabama, is said to be the largest cast-iron statue, standing at 56 feet tall and weighing a hefty 101,200 pounds.
Interesting Alabama Facts: 50 – 58 | Miscellaneous Facts
51. If you ever drop by the Hall of History in Bessemer, be sure to check out the war memorabilia, specifically the typewriter Hitler used when he went on his mountain retreat.
52. There are about four thousand war and warfare relics displayed in the United States Army Chemical Corps Museum in Fort McClellan.
53. Dressing up for Halloween is fun, but you have to be careful dressing up as a religious clergy in Alabama. There is a law that prohibits this type of behavior, stating that, “Whoever, being in a public place, fraudulently pretends by garb or outward array to be a minister of any religion, or nun, priest, rabbi or another member of the clergy, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
54. A shop in Scottsboro buys unclaimed luggage from airlines that have given up searching the lost luggage’s owner and sells it to whoever would be interested in purchasing. It is basically the same as buying a blind box; you’ll never know what you’ll get! In the entire history of this shop, one person purchased an unclaimed luggage, only to find out it was the luggage he lost a while back. In case you are wondering about the contents of the luggage, it was just a pair of ski boots.
55. Not only is Alabama’s official drink an alcoholic beverage (Conecuh Ridge Whiskey), but they are also the only state that currently has alcohol as their official drink.
56. It is a felony to participate in or incite bear wrestling.
57. It is prohibited to play dominos on a Sunday.
58. Alabama prohibits the purchase of sex toys; however, you are permitted to purchase sex toys, provided that you have a doctor’s note!