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Plenty of Oklahoma facts are stranger than fiction, and this southwest state is filled with history, minerals, and astonishing facts.
We have dug deep to bring you a selection of Oklahoma fun facts that will have you itching to visit this intriguing state in the near future.
Let’s go on a whirlwind tour through Tornado Alley and reveal some interesting facts about Oklahoma so you can plan your next trip to the Sooner State without missing a thing.
26 Fun Oklahoma Facts You Need to Know
1. The Iconic Film Oklahoma Was Shot In Arizona
‘Oklahoma where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.’ It is almost impossible to think about the state of Oklahoma without hearing the iconic soundtrack to the 1955 musical of the same name in your head.
One of the interesting facts about the film Oklahoma is although the producers had hoped to film the production in Oklahoma, they had to move to the neighboring state of Arizona for a very good reason.
The incredible underground wealth in Oklahoma meant that the oil wells were a distraction in the exterior scenes.
This small detail hasn’t stopped the state of Oklahoma from being rightfully proud of the movie, which won various Academy Awards. The title song was adopted as the Oklahoma song in 1953.
2. Oklahoma Is Called The Sooner State
One of the first things many people notice about Oklahoma is that it is fondly known as The Sooner State, and residents are called ‘Sooners.’ One must go way back in time to find the term’s origins.
In 1889, a large section of land in Oklahoma was opened for settlement by the federal government.
All you needed to do to stake your claim was to race to the bit you wanted before anyone else and take it as your own.
On April 22, 1889, nearly 50,000 people surrounded the unoccupied territory, waiting for the signal for the official landrace to begin.
At noon, a military officer fired a pistol, and the chase was on to claim one of the many 160-acre plots.
While that all seemed very fair, some snuck into the promised territory ahead of time and became known as the ‘Sooners.’
The name stuck, and now the entire state of Oklahoma is called the Sooner State.
3. Watermelon Is The State Vegetable
If you thought that watermelon is a fruit, you’d be correct, but that hasn’t stopped the state of Oklahoma from designating it as their state vegetable.
Since it is produced in abundance in the state over the summer, grown in the fields, and harvested like other vegetables, this refreshing melon seemed like a good choice for the state.
4. Shopping Carts Were Invented In Oklahoma
It would be unimaginable nowadays to go grocery shopping without a shopping cart.
One of the most impressive Oklahoma facts is that the handy device is a proudly Oklahoman invention.
In 1936, Sylvan Goldman of Tulsa, Oklahoma, patented his innovation, which soon became a standard item in grocery stores worldwide.
5. Oklahoma Has Some Quirky Laws
Although every state and country has a few outdated laws, Oklahoma still has some rules that can make you laugh out loud.
Tourists to the sooner state should be reminded to refrain from stealing a horse or going whale hunting while visiting the state.
Although you are unlikely to be tempted to go whaling while in the landlocked state, remember when you see a horse, the penalty for theft can include being hanged until you are dead!
Fortunately, it is unlikely that such a harsh penalty would be applied these days.
Other peculiar laws still on the books in Oklahoma are that it is illegal to use elephants to plow your fields or lasso alligators. In the town of Honobia, it is also unlawful to harass Bigfoot.
6. Oklahoma Has An Official State Meal
While many states in the United States have an official food, The Sooner State has taken things a step further.
Oklahoma is the only state to boast an official meal, including a delicious dessert.
The meal that became official in 1988 represents the state’s agricultural production and are dishes typical of southern cuisine.
Meats include barbecue pork, chicken-fried steak, black-eyed peas, and sausage with biscuits and gravy.
The meats are served with a variety of vegetables and cornbread. If that isn’t enough, the pecan pie and fresh strawberries end the feast.
This is one of the fun facts about Oklahoma that gets everyone’s stamp of approval.
7. Bigfoot Sightings Can Happen In Oklahoma
If you are near any wooded sections in Oklahoma, stay on the lookout for Bigfoot.
One of the fun facts about Oklahoma is that the state is in the top ten list of most bigfoot sightings by population.
Bigfoot is one of the best-known mythical creatures in North America. The elusive ape-like creature of massive proportions is believed to lurk about in forested areas.
Although no one knows for sure where Bigfoot roams, a relatively large percentage of Sooners claim to have seen him in their state.
8. You Can Own An Oklahoma State Pet
In 2021, rescue animals were designated as the state pet in Oklahoma. The bill named Cali’s Law does not specify any particular species.
As long as an animal has been adopted from a licensed animal shelter, it qualifies to be an official state pet.
9. Oklahoma Forms Part Of Tornado Alley
No list of Oklahoma facts would be complete without mentioning that the state, unfortunately, has the misfortune of being part of a group of states loosely referred to as Tornado Alley.
Although tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, most happen from April to June.
Fortunately, buildings are well-equipped, and early warning sirens give residents and visitors plenty of time to seek shelter when a storm is on the way.
Read next: 24 Kansas Facts You Need to Know
10. The State Got Its Name From A Native American Phrase
Some Oklahoma facts date way back to the 1500s! In 1541, a Spanish explorer called Francisco de Coronado found himself in the region on his quest to discover the mythical ‘Lost City of Gold.’
It was in the writings of the explorer that the term Oklahoma was first used.
Presumably, he heard it from the Native American Choctaw people who resided in the area. They used the words’ okla humma’, which translates as ‘red people.’
11. There Is A Ghost Town In Oklahoma
There are many interesting facts about Oklahoma, but one place that stands out in the state’s history is the sad tale of the town of Picher in the northeast.
A census done in 1920 recorded a population of 9,676 residents; in 2019, it was 0.
For over 100 years, Picher was a central hub for mining lead and zinc. The town was prosperous and looked like all other developing towns.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much control over where giant piles of toxic metal-contaminated gravel ore were left.
Over time, inhabitants, including children who played in the contaminated material, began to suffer from lead poisoning.
A decision was made for the entire town to evacuate. The streets, buildings, schools, and shops all stand as a desolate reminder of the impact of environmental damage.
12. The Name Of The Capital City Is The Same As The State
Only two capital cities in the United States also include the state’s name.
One is Indianapolis, Indiana, and the other is Oklahoma City, which is the bustling capital of the Sooner State.
One of the many interesting facts about Oklahoma is that Oklahoma City wasn’t always the capital.
The town of Guthrie served as the capital before 1910, after a vote that year, the majority supported moving the capital to Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City is often shortened to OKC, and in addition to being the capital, it is also the largest city in the state. It is located in the state’s center and surrounded by working oil wells.
13. Oklahoma Borders Six States
When looking at the state of Oklahoma on a map, it would be impossible not to notice its unique shape.
Instead of being a neat-looking block like many states around it, it has a long, narrow strip jutting out from the top left corner.
The long, narrow section is a single county in Oklahoma, and on its own, it borders four other states: Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado.
Cimarron County is the only place in the country with this distinction. Along with these four states clustered around the panhandle section, Oklahoma also borders Arkansas and Missouri in the east.
14. The Shoreline In Oklahoma Is Vast
For a relatively small, landlocked state, an interesting Oklahoma fact is that the state has more than 11,500 miles of shoreline.
The Sooner state has 34 major reservoirs, and water covers 1,224 square miles.
In addition to the ponds and reservoirs, Oklahoma has 167,000 miles of rivers and streams.
It also has no less than 200 man-made lakes. The state is a mecca for boating, fishing, and every type of watersport.
15. The Parking Meter Debuted In Oklahoma City
In July 1935, the world’s first parking meter was installed in this city.
This invention, which has been the cause of many parking tickets, was the brainchild of a resident, Carl C. Magee.
The Park-o-Meter was a method to address the problem of insufficient parking in downtown areas.
Instead of being able to take up a parking space for the entire day, it forced motorists to remain vigilant about the passing of time.
16. The State Is Rich In Natural Resources
Although everyone associates Oklahoma with oil, it also boasts a wealth of other natural resources.
Oklahoma also mines more gypsum than any other state and is one of only three that produces helium.
While discussing Oklahoma facts, we cannot omit that it is the only state in the United States that produces iodine.
Other resources include coal, copper, lead, limestone, and zinc. The state ranks within the top 30 producers of nonfuel minerals, so there is much more to it than just the petroleum products it is most famous for.
17. Route 66 Runs Through Oklahoma
In our list of Oklahoma fun facts, it would be an omission not to note that the iconic Route 66 runs diagonally across the state.
Not only that, but it includes more miles on the road trip than any other state.
Dotted along the drive are several museums and fun attractions. Less formal but enjoyable Oklahoma attractions along the route include Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park and the Blue Whale of Catoosa.
18. Oklahoma Has The Largest Native American Population in the US
An Oklahoma fact that the state is immensely proud of, in the lower 48 states, it has the largest population of Native American tribes.
There are 39 tribal nations, each with its own flag and distinct cultural identities.
Most Native Americans in Oklahoma reside in eleven counties known as the Northern District of Oklahoma, which is situated in the far northeastern section of the state.
The area, known as Indian country, is home to more than a million people.
19. Many Famous People Come From The Sooner State
Natural resources and minerals are not the only valuable assets to come from Oklahoma.
The south-central state has delivered more than its fair share of entertainment and sports stars.
Names like Brad Pitt, Reba McEntire, Chuck Norris, and Mickey Mantle have become household names across the country.
All of them, and many more, including Ron Howard and Dr. Phil, hail from the great state of Oklahoma.
20. There Are No National Parks In the State
A surprising Oklahoma fact is that it has a surprisingly low percentage of protected land compared to most other states in the country.
There are no national parks and only 38 state parks that cover 0.13% of the land in the state.
Although there are no national parks, there are a few National Park Service places of interest located around the state.
These are primarily landmark sites and trails to commemorate historic events in the state’s history.
21. Saurophaganax maximus Is The State Fossil
No list of Oklahoma facts would be complete without including a few dinosaurs. A little-known fact is that almost every state in the United States has an official state fossil or dinosaur.
Oklahoma has both, and they are impressive dinosaur specimens that hail from a time long ago.
Saurophaganax maximus was the largest land carnivore during the Late Jurassic period and is the official state fossil of the Sooner State.
Remains of a large specimen were discovered in the panhandle section of the state in 1931.
22. The State Has A Proud Cowboy Heritage
Anyone who loves tales of adventure in the Wild West should visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
In addition to learning loads of interesting Oklahoma facts, the museum will take you back to a time of dusty cattle runs and sleeping under the stars.
Find out everything you ever wanted to know about life in cowboy country. The museum has more than 28,000 artifacts and an array of exhibitions that make history come alive.
23. A Bomb Fell In The State During WW2
Some Oklahoma facts are stranger than fiction. The only bomb that fell on United States continental soil during WW2 was dropped in Boise City, Oklahoma, in July 1943.
After some investigation, it turned out that the bomb had been dropped in error during a training flight.
The incident occurred because the pilots mistook the lights around the town’s main square for their training target.
Fortunately, no one was killed, and only minimal damage was incurred, but the unusual event put the state into the history books.
24. Oklahoma Was The 46th State
Before November 1907, Oklahoma was only a state territory and not a state all on its own. Before that date, the land was divided into Indian and Oklahoma territories.
On November 16, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation to admit Oklahoma as the 46th state in the union.
25. The State Had One Of The Most Haunted Houses
Although it has thankfully been demolished, some still believe that a basement of the Hex House in Tulsa remains beneath the car park that now stands in its place.
The creepy place was once the home of Carolann Smith, who dabbled in the occult and imprisoned people in the basement.
26. Oklahoma Gave The World The Twist Tie
Twist ties are flexible, thin metal wires enclosed in strips of plastic.
For decades, these handy fasteners invented by Oklahoman Charles E. Burford were used for everything from closing bread to garbage bags.
We thought this was a valuable tidbit of information to tie off our tour of Oklahoma facts.
Quick Fun Facts About Oklahoma
Oklahoma has four mountain ranges: Arbuckles, Ozarks, Ouachitas, and Wichitas.
The highest point in all Oklahoma territory is Black Mesa at 4,973 feet.
In 1948, a captain in the US Air Force issued the first tornado warning in Oklahoma City.
The city of Okmulgee owns the world record for the largest pecan pie, weighing about 7,500 pounds. (But also for the largest pecan brownie and pecan cookie party!)
Eufaula Lake is the largest lake in Oklahoma by area, but Lake Texoma, on the Texas-Oklahoma border, is the largest by volume.
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