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What do you know about Kentucky?
Is Kentucky Fried Chicken the first thing that springs to mind? Well, Colonel Sanders of delicious crunchy chicken fame was indeed from Kentucky.
But that's just one item of Kentucky trivia among the thousands of cool things about Kentucky! From having the longest cave system in the world to being the birthplace of one of the most famous Presidents in world history, Kentucky is a diverse treasure trove of culture, history and nature.
We have compiled our top Kentucky fun facts for kids to help with school projects on the Bluegrass State. Historical facts about Kentucky, famous residents, interesting culinary traditions and many more important facts about Kentucky await the curious reader. So get ready to stock up on the most interesting facts about Kentucky and find out all about Kentucky and what makes it so special.
If you enjoy this list of interesting things about Kentucky, why not brush up on the rest of your knowledge about the United States and explore facts about North Carolina or discover facts about the state of Oregon?
Kentucky Geography Facts
Looking for cool facts about Kentucky geography? Find out all about the lay of the land with our top geography Kentucky facts for kids.
1. Kentucky is a state in the Upland South, the Northern part of the Southern United States. Also known as the Upper South, the Upland South moniker refers to its mountainous terrain and the term Upper South also acts as a political distinction from the Lower or Deep South, as defined by state lines.
2. Much of Eastern Kentucky forms part of Appalachia, a cultural region subject to many myths, misconceptions and stereotyping. The region is rich in resources but has long been associated with poverty.
3. Seven states border Kentucky. Indiana and Ohio border it to the north, West Virginia to the northeast, Illinois to the northwest, Tennessee to its south, Virginia to its east, and Missouri to the west. Only two states border more states than Kentucky does.
4. The Ohio River serves as Kentucky's northern border and the Mississippi River forms the state's western border.
5. The 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes took place in an enclave known as Kentucky Bend in the southwestern corner of Kentucky. These were some of the most powerful earthquakes ever to have hit North America in recorded history. After effects of these quakes included the Mississippi River running backwards!
6. Kentucky is made up of five main regions: the Cumberland Plateau, famous for its coal mining history; the Bluegrass region where Kentucky's main cities and capital are situated; the Pennyroyal Plateau; the Western Coal Fields and the Jackson Purchase.
7. The Bluegrass region is divided into the Inner Bluegrass and the Outer Bluegrass regions.
8. One of the most amazing Kentucky geographical features is the Mammoth Cave. This is the longest cave system ever discovered. The Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.
9. Kentucky has three natural lakes and many artificial lakes. The state also boasts 90,000 miles of streams making up one of the biggest and most complex stream systems in the USA. Kentucky has many rivers, with a continuous river border on three sides and more navigable miles of water than any other state in the US apart from Alaska.
10. Kentucky is home to many parks. There are 45 state parks, 37,896 acres of state forest, two National Historical Parks and the Mammoth Cave National Park.
11. In 1997 the state began to repopulate Kentucky's eastern counties with elk, which had been extinct there for over 150 years. In 2009 the number of elk surpassed 10,000! Wild turkeys have also been saved from the brink of extinction and are thriving these days throughout the state.
12. Nicknamed the Niagara of the South, the Cumberland Falls in southeastern Kentucky is the only waterfall in the Western Hemisphere where a lunar rainbow appears with regularity. A lunar rainbow, or moonbow, is a rainbow produced by moonlight instead of sunlight!
13. The highest point in Kentucky is Black Mountain whose highest peak reaches 4,145 feet above sea level.
Kentucky History Facts
Here are the key points in Kentucky history for kids. Find out all about historical Kentucky facts and information with these interesting facts!
14. We don't know when the first humans arrived in Kentucky because there's no archaeological evidence of human presence in the region before 10,000 BCE.
15. In 1800 BCE society began to transition to agriculture from the hunter gatherer lifestyle. Mississippian and Fort Ancient cultures appeared in the region from 900 CE. Average Fort Ancient and Mississippian towns were home to around 2000 inhabitants.
16. 17th century French explorers documented numerous Native American tribes living in the region. By the mid 18th century, however, there were no major settlements left in Kentucky. Today there are two Native American tribes recognized by the state of Kentucky: the Ridgetop Shawnee and the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky.
17. There are several theories about where the name Kentucky came from. It may derive from the Iroquois word 'kentake' for "meadow land", or the Wyandotte word 'ken-tah-the' translating to "land of tomorrow". There are several other possible origins from other Native American languages.
18. In early pioneer times Kentucky was known as Kentucke, Kaintuckee and Cantuckey.
19. Kentucky was the 15th state to join the union on 1 June 1792.
20. Abraham Lincoln, the most famous President in US history, was born in a one room log cabin on a farm in Hodgenville, Kentucky in 1809. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and led the country through the American Civil War.
21. Jefferson Davis, the first and only President of the Confederate States, was born in Fairview, Kentucky in 1808. The Confederate States were the southern states that broke away from the Union due to rising tensions mostly to do with the North/South divide over the issue of slavery.
22. Before the Civil War, Jefferson Davis owned a huge cotton plantation in Mississippi and owned around 113 slaves. Davis was a much less effective war leader than his adversary Abe Lincoln, and the Confederacy ultimately lost the war.
23. Thomas Edison lived in Louisville, Kentucky. Edison is thought to have lived there as a young man when he came to Louisville to work as a telegrapher for the Western Union. Today the Thomas Edison House Museum is a popular tourist attraction.
24. One of the craziest fun facts about Kentucky is that one of the more secure buildings on earth is situated there! Yes, the legendary Fort Knox, also known as the United States Bullion Depository, stores over half of the United States' gold reserves and is located just south of Louisville, Kentucky. Fort Knox is so secure that it has become a byword for the highest security level imaginable.
Kentucky Culture And Sports Facts
Find out all about the rich cultural heritage of Kentucky and its famous sports traditions with these fun facts.
25. There is an annual horse race called the Kentucky Derby, held in Louisville, Kentucky. The Kentucky Derby usually takes place on the first Saturday in May. The race had run for 144 years without fail before Covid came along and saw 2020s Derby cancelled!
26. Lexington, Kentucky is famously known for being the horse capital of the world.
27. One of the best known tunes in the world, 'Happy Birthday', was written by two Kentucky sisters! Patty and Mildred J. Hill, a teacher and a musician from Louisville, Kentucky, made up a song for Patty to use at school called 'Good Morning To All' and this eventually developed into the world renowned birthday song 'Happy Birthday'!
28. Patty and Mildred are buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville alongside other legendary Kentuckians, Mohammed Ali and KFC's Colonel Sanders.
29. Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Billie Ray Cyrus and George Clooney are some of the most famous Kentuckians around today.
30. General Motors, Fruit of the Loom and Chevrolet Corvettes all hail from Bowling Green in Warren County, Kentucky. Bowling Green is also the home of the state's second largest university, the Western Kentucky University.
31. It's not called the Bluegrass State for nothing! One interesting fact about Kentucky is that it is famed for its blue-tinged pastures. Bluegrass is actually green but its bluey-purple buds make large fields of grass look blue from afar. Kentucky is also famed for its bluegrass music which dates from the mid '40s. Bluegrass music is a type of folk country music played on acoustic instruments.
32. 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky' is the state bluegrass song and 'My Old Kentucky Home' the state song.
33. Milk is the state drink and the blackberry is the state fruit.
34. Goldenrod is the state flower and the freshwater pearl is the state gemstone. The Northern Cardinal is the state bird.
35. Clogging is the state dance.
Kentucky Food Facts
Here are some finger-lickin' interesting and weird facts about Kentucky cuisine.
36. KFC (or Kentucky Fried Chicken) was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders during the Great Depression in the '30s. Sanders first started selling his homemade fried chicken from the Shell gas station he ran just outside the small Kentucky town of North Corbin. The first official KFC restaurant franchise actually opened in Utah. It's now the second largest restaurant chain in the world.
37. Kentucky Derby pie, a rich, buttery dessert filled with chocolate chips and walnuts is a treat traditionally enjoyed on Kentucky Derby day.
38. Kentucky is known for its famous mint julep cocktail which is also traditionally served at the Derby.
39. Benedictine is a famous Kentucky dip made from cucumber and onion juices, cream cheese and green food coloring!
40. Hot Brown is an iconic hot sandwich from Kentucky, inspired by the Welsh rarebit.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully curated lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our interesting and funny facts about Kentucky for school projects, then why not take a look at our Nicaragua fact file, or our Mexico City facts?
Eleanor lives in Brighton with her three year old daughter. They are always on the lookout for new experiences and environments to explore and exciting new activities to do together. One of their favourite ways to spend an afternoon is the cinema, you will always find them queueing for popcorn the minute a new kids’ film is released! They love getting the train to London in search of new activities and great places to eat. Eleanor is also training as a complementary therapist in her (limited!) spare time and is very interested in the practice of mindfulness.