The Tar Heel State is filled with some unique landscapes and attractions that draw visitors worldwide to experience the state’s rich history and achievements. Because of that I’ll share some of the most remarkable North Carolina facts with you today.
To most people, the state is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, but few look a little closer into its interesting culture. With this article about facts about North Carolina, I hope to inspire those considering visiting the Tar Heel State.
There is more to the state than meets the eye, and knowing more about its towns, quirky spots, and spectacular places will encourage you to go and get the full experience.
26 North Carolina Facts: Fun Facts About North Carolina To Know
1. Blackbeard Lived In Bath
Various North Carolina facts spring from the 1700s when pirates sailed the ocean, and no ship was safe from these bandits.
In 1718, the famous pirate Blackbeard lived in the Carolina coastal town of Bath, where he ransacked ships.
Blackbeard often socialized with the governor Charles Eden, who turned a blind eye to the pirates’ activities for a portion of the spoils.
For a while, Blackbeard called Bath home and even owned a house in Ocracoke village, but he quickly ran through his wealth and had to return to piracy after a few months.
Blackbeard used Ocracoke Inlet for his illegal activity, and today, the inlet is known as “Teach’s Hole.”
Read next: 29 Fun Facts About Tennessee
2. The World’s First Powered Flight Was Tested In Kitty Hawk
The first powered flight is one of the various North Carolina fun facts that impact the world today the most.
Before 1903, flying mainly involved gliding until brothers and inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright completed the first powered flight.
The aircraft known as the Wright Flyer was tested in Kitty Hawk dunes and traveled 120 feet in 12 seconds of flight.
17 December 1903 is a big day in the state’s history, and today, the quarters and license plates read “First Flight.”
Five people witnessed the flight and saw the powered aircraft reach 6.8 miles per hour, traveling about 10 feet above the ground.
A photograph proved the event, and that same day, the brothers completed three other flights, with the longest being 59 seconds, and traveled 852 feet.
3. New Bern Is The Birthplace Of Pepsi-Cola
Pepsi-Cola is one of the world’s most successful accidental success stories and has the state’s name written beside it.
Medical student Caleb Davis Bradham lived in a small town called New Bern and owned a drugstore.
In 1893, Caleb concocted a medicine mixture to aid digestion: sugar, caramel, water, lemon oil, nutmeg, kola nuts, and other additives.
Caleb called his mixture “Brad’s drink,” it quickly became popular amongst the locals and soon spread to other towns, eventually leading to what we know today as Pepsi.
4. N.C. Is The Largest Producer Of Sweet Potatoes And Tobacco
One of the best-known North Carolina facts is the large amount of tobacco and sweet potatoes this state produces yearly.
As the largest tobacco producer, the state supplied 900 million pounds in 1975, which has reduced to 250 million pounds in 2021 but remains the number one producer in the United States.
No Sunday meal is complete without sweet potatoes, and thanks to the Tar Heel State, every day can be a sweet potato day.
The state is the largest supplier in the United States, and since 2000, production has quadrupled to keep up with demand.
5. Milk Is The Official State Beverage
Pepsi-Cola originated in the Tar Heel State, and one would think that it would be the state beverage due to its popularity and recognition.
The state Milk Commission proposed milk as the state beverage, and Democrat Senator Aaron W. Plyler introduced the bill.
Except for three votes who opposed the bill, the senate passed it with humorous conformations and shouted “Moo!” on 12 June 1987.
One of the interesting facts about North Carolina is that the state produced 179 million gallons of milk yearly when the bill passed.
Each cow produced around $4,800 worth of milk a year, making it hard to refuse their efforts by making milk the state beverage.
6. World War II Battleship Resides In The State
America’s participation in World War II led to a victory against tyranny, and like every state, North Carolina has a hand in its success.
The battleship “North Carolina” was part of the efforts in World War II and, after doing its duty, was decommissioned and set to be destroyed in the ’60s.
The state recognized the ship’s historical value and significance and saved it from the scrap yard with donations.
The 728-foot-long, 36,000-ton ship now resides on Wilmington’s Cape Fear River as a historic site and memorial to the heroic Carolinian sailors who fought in World War II.
7. The Tar Heel State’s Outer Bank Is An Atlantic Graveyard
One lesser-known fact is its Atlantic graveyard, located at the state’s outer banks, where several ships have met their final resting place.
The Graveyard of The Atlantic is known for its treacherous water and storms that have taken the lives of numerous sailors.
Four wreckages stand as a reminder of the ocean’s potential to destroy those who dare to test its storms.
Laura Barnes lies underwater along Bodie Island, where it sank on 1 June 1921, and in 1933, a hurricane forced the G.A. Kohler ashore.
The 100-foot fishing trawler Lois Joyce sank in 1981 as it entered the Oregon Inlet, and the Oriental grounded at Hatteras Island in 1862.
8. There Are Three Locals Who Became President
The 1800s was a good time for the state’s politicians and produced three American presidents.
A statue honors the three Carolinians who dedicated their lives to the future and prosperity of the United States.
The first Carolinian to enter the highest office in the country was the 7th president, Andrew Jackson, who served from 1829 to 1837.
The state did not stop there and produced the 11th president, James K. Polk, who served as our nation’s 11th president from 1845 to 1849.
After Jackson and Polk, it was time for the 17th President, Andrew Johnson, to serve and occupy the White House from 1865 to 1869.
9. Mount Mitchell Is The Highest Peak In The State
Elisha Mitchell engraved his name into one of the most tragic historical North Carolina facts when he lost his life measuring the state’s highest mountain known today as Mount Mitchell.
In 1857, Presbyterian minister and geologist Elisha attempted a second measuring, fell down a waterfall, and drowned in the pool. In 1881, Mitchell’s first measuring was upheld at 6,684 feet.
10. North Carolina Produced Many Celebrities
The Tar Heel State is home to several celebrities born and raised here, like the hilarious Zach Galifianakis, Oscar-winning Julianne Moore, and the gorgeous Ava Gardner.
Another one of many interesting facts about North Carolina is its musicians who have shared their musical talent with the world.
Well-known Grammy winners Roberta Flack, Eric Church, and Max Roach are just a few who have entertained millions worldwide.
As for the N.C. sports legends, none is as controversial as Edward Snowden. Other athletes like gold medal winner Sugar Ray Leonard and NBA player Chris Paul have forever cemented their names in its history.
11. The State Has The Largest Walk-Through Zoo In The World
Only two US zoos are state-owned, and the one in the Tar Heel State is the biggest walk-through zoo in the world.
The acclaimed zoo boasts 810 hectares and is home to 1,600 animals, including the most captive chimpanzees and Alaskan seabirds in the United States.
Since the zoo opened in 1974, it has grown immensely and currently draws 700,000 visitors annually.
A chimpanzee named Ham who once lived in the Zoological Park is one of the most bizarrely fascinating fun facts about North Carolina.
In January 1961, all eyes were on Ham, who skyrocketed into space. The famous chimp astronaut returned as a hero and called the zoo home until his death, aged 25 in 1983.
12. N.C. Holds The Record For The Largest Vegetarian Burger
In 2022, famous YouTuber MrBeast added one of the most amazing North Carolina facts to this already fun state when he made the largest vegetarian burger. How big, you may ask?
Well, check out these staggering measurements. The burger weighed 4,612lb, was 2 ft 10.25 high, and 7 feet wide.
Forty-three people prepared the burger, after a few staff took a bite, the rest was given to the homeless community.
13. Krispy Kreme Was Founded In The Tar Heel State
You have not tasted the ultimate doughnut until you have taken a bite of a Krispy Kreme. The history of the world’s best-known doughnut started in Winston-Salem in 1937.
The founder of Krispy Kreme, Vernon Rudolph, raised the company to new heights and led it to international popularity.
Today, the famous doughnut company trades on the Nasdaq and pleasures millions of tastebuds.
14. The State Has More Than 300 Waterfalls
The Tar Heel State has over 300 waterfalls, with 250 spread around Brevard. The spectacular Great Smokey Mountain and its waterfalls provide a picture-perfect beauty.
Movies like The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games used some of them to create spectacular nature scenes.
Most of them do not get movie attention but provide memorable moments to many hikers.
15. America’s Largest Home Is In Ashville
If you love big houses, this will have you smiling from ear to ear. Ashville is home to the descendants of George Washington Vanderbilt II, who had the largest house built in the United States.
In 1889, George started construction on the 178,926 sq ft, 250-room French Renaissance chateau and its 65 fireplaces, 35 bedrooms, and 43 bathrooms, and completed it in 1895.
The project took 60 stone masons and a thousand workers to complete. A three-mile railroad spur was built to transport materials to the builders to keep the project from slowing down.
George knew it would take enormous planning and ingenuity and decided to build a brick kiln and a woodworking factory on the property. Today, the mansion belongs to his descendants, worth over $300 million.
16. Putt-Putt Golf Was Created In Fayetteville
There are many fun facts about North Carolina, but few are as interesting as the legendary dating sport called Putt-Putt.
Thanks to the founder of Putt-Putt, Don Clayton, who created the obstacle-filled game in 1954 in Fayetteville, Carolina, young and old had a mutually enjoyable thing to do on date night.
Clayton started small, and soon, his idea was introduced to every state, and the Putt-Putt company earned over $100 million in sales.
17. The Venus Flytrap Is Native To North Carolina
A flesh-eating plant sounds out of this world, and few people know that such a plant exists. The meat-eating Dionaea muscipula, known as the Venus Flytrap, is cultivated worldwide.
Another one of the North Carolina fun facts is that this state is the only place in the world native to the Venus flytrap.
Poaching a Venus Flytrap is a felony, and the state protects it from extinction due to its uniqueness and rarity.
The rarity and uniqueness of the insect-devouring plant lure many pilgrims to the Tar Heel State to view it and many other captivating and spectacular plants.
18. Babe Ruth’s Hit His First Professional Home Run In N.C.
The United States is synonymous with baseball, and nothing is more baseball than professional baseball player Babe Ruth.
Babe signed his professional contract at age 19, and a few weeks after signing, the team headed to Fayetteville, Carolina.
In the last inning, Ruth let loose and smashed his first home run, and after that, his life changed, and he became a baseball legend.
Babe often referred to his first home run in North Carolina and said, “I got to some bigger places than Fayetteville after that, but darn few as exciting.”
19. People From The State Love To Barbecue
Barbeque is embedded into every Carolinian and part of the state’s identity, and that is not speculation; it is one of the well-known North Carolina facts.
The state has two barbeque methods called “Eastern and Lexington.” Eastern barbeque flames the whole animal, and Lexington only uses shoulder meat.
Barbequing is so big in the state that a book called Holy Smoke discusses the Tar Heel State BBQ requirements in detail to avoid confusion.
According to Holy Smoke, the BBQ rules state that the meat must be pork, barbequed slowly, and served with a vinegar-based sauce.
20. The Largest Military Base In The United States Is Fort Bragg
The U.S. Army is a big deal in North Carolina and houses almost 60,000 soldiers at Fort Bragg, including the 18th Airborne Corps and the U.S.A Special Operations Command headquarters.
Fort Bragg was built after World War I in 1918 and covered 250 square miles, making it the largest army base in America and the world.
21. North & South Carolina Used To Be One Colony
One of the lesser-known North Carolina facts is that in the 1600s, North and South Carolina were one colony until 1712, when North and South officially split.
In the 1660s, Proprietors recognized the distance and transportation difficulties between the North and South and appointed a deputy governor for the northern half.
The South controlled the North until it realized the benefits of severing itself completely.
22. North Carolina Is Famous For Its White Lake
Many centuries ago, natives who roamed the Tar Heel State region used “Silver Lake” near Elizabethtown as a retreat.
It was then called Silver Lake, but today, it is known as White Lake, a popular holiday destination. White Lake is known for its clear water, white sand bottom, and picturesque beauty.
White Lake attracts thousands of visitors with its safe water with no tides, currents, or hazards where swimmers can enjoy all its value and beauty.
23. Bald Head Island Has Banned Cars
Bald Head Island’s existence and survival is an interesting fact that many who visit it only appreciate it once they visit it.
The island’s name was given to it after erosion made it resemble a bald head. Bald Head Island is a place of beauty, and cars are forbidden to protect its natural environment, which consists of more than 80% of the island.
Not allowing cars has given Bald Head Island the advantage that visitors can truly relax and are protected from environmental damage.
Those who visit do have other commuting options like golf carts and bicycles.
24. The Tar Heel State Has A House of Mugs
What is the use of North Carolina facts if no one shows the quirkiness of the state and its residents?
One visit you will never forget is the one to the House of Mugs owned by Avery and Doris Sisk.
This fabulous destination started with 15 mugs that seemed to be nice decoration pieces and ended with another 20,000 added until the gate and fence were covered.
Avery and Doris Sisk invite visitors to enjoy their House of Mugs and to add a mug to their collection.
The Tar Heel State has many quirky places, but none as fun, inviting, and colorful as this unique house.
25. The State’s Hottest Recorded Temperature Was In 1983
North Carolina town Fayetteville is located between Wilmington and Charlotte, the largest city, where the subtropical climate produces high humidity and temperatures as high as 88°F.
The summer of 1983 produced high temperatures around the United States that locals still remember. On 21 August, Fayetteville’s residents experienced extreme heat, reaching 110°F.
26. The State Has Many Billionaires
Another one of the most well-known North Carolina facts is the number of billionaires who live in the Tar Heel State.
Residents like the Epic Games co-founder Tim Sweeney have a net worth of $7.6 billion, and SAS co-founder James Goodnight has $7.4 billion.
Other billionaires like John Sall, Dennis Gillings, and Mark Rein enjoy the state’s lavish lifestyle, all having more than a billion dollars in net worth.
Quick Fun Facts About North Carolina
Thought to have thrived for over four centuries, the Mother Vine, situated on Roanoke Island in North Carolina, is hailed as the oldest grapevine in North America, with its origins attributed to either the Croatan Native Americans or the settlers of the Lost Colony.
Three institutions claim to be the oldest public university in the United States, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
North Carolinians and tourists can enjoy 34 state parks and 14 national parks in the state.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is often ranked as one of the most beautiful and famous lighthouses in the US (and is the tallest lighthouse in the state).
Some famous people born in North Carolina include Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, J Cole, Billy Graham, Nicholas Sparks, Michael Jordan, and Michael C Hall.
That’s it for today! I sincerely hope you had a good time reading these fun facts about North Carolina! Wanna help me out? Be sure to share this article on your social media. Oh, and if you know some fun North Carolina facts, please drop them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
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