The 50 American states get their nicknames from all sorts of sources.
Mississippi is "The Magnolia State," named for a tree with big, beautiful white blossoms that grows in profusion in that hot, southern state.
The Midwest state of Missouri is called "The Show Me State." It refers to native skepticism and stubbornness for which the people of that frontier state were once famous.
You have only to visit the mountain and plains state of Montana to know why it is known as "Big Sky Country."
Nebraska is the only state to adopt a nickname that salutes sports teams! The state university's athletic teams are nicknamed "Cornhuskers" in recognition of one of the area's chief crops. The state borrowed the Cornhusker nickname from the school.
The western desert state of Nevada is called "The Silver State," because it was once home to many silver mines and boomtowns, most of which are now abandoned ghost towns.
New Hampshire, in the northeast region called New England, is "The Granite State. It's replete with granite mountains and quarries.
New Jersey sits between the big cities of New York and Philadelphia, and it got its nickname, "The Garden State," because New Jersey truck farms once provided vegetables to those sprawling cities.
If you get a chance to see a blood-red sunset over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, you'll know why that southwest state is called "The Land of Enchantment."
New York, which always thinks big, was called "The Empire State," because of its natural wealth. The most famous Manhattan skyscraper got its name from the state. It is, of course, the Empire State Building.
North and South Carolina were one colony until 1729. South Carolina's nickname is the easier of the two: It's "The Palmetto State" because of a fan-leafed palm tree that grows there. North Carolina is the "Tar Heel State." Its backwoodsmen, many of whom would walk barefoot, would make turpentine from tar and get the black, sticky tar on their heels.
"The Buckeye State" of Ohio gets its nickname from a tree that produces nuts similar to chestnuts.
The Great Plains state of Oklahoma is called the "Sooner State," because in a land rush in 1889, some people snuck into the territory early. They cheated and got there "sooner."
Pennsylvania is called "The Quaker State" because its founder, and most of his followers, were members of the Protestant Quaker faith. Pennsylvania is also known as "The Keystone State." Just as a keystone holds together a stone arch, Pennsylvania was seen as holding together the young American republic.
Rhode Island is "Little Rhody" because of its tiny size. The state is smaller than the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, Calif.
Tennessee got its nickname, "The Volunteer State," because of the valor of its citizens who volunteered to join Tennessean Andrew Jackson in defense of New Orleans against the British army in the War of 1812.
Texas, "The Lone Star State," gets its nickname from the single star on its flag, which represents its brief status as an independent nation battling Mexico for sovereignty.
"The Beehive State" of Utah has no more beehives than any other state. The nickname derives from the Mormon Church's symbol for industriousness. One sees it above store entrances and in the Utah state seal.
The eastern state of Vermont is proud of its beautiful range called the Green Mountains. So much so that it calls itself "The Green Mountain State."
Virginia is called "The Old Dominion." Long ago, British King Charles the Second of England added the colony's coat of arms to his shield, joining his other dominions of England, Ireland, and Scotland.
West Virginia, which broke away from Virginia in the 1860s, is simply "The Mountain State" because the ancient Appalachian chain runs right through it.
And we've saved perhaps the most American of nicknames for last. The western state of Wyoming was once a trailhead for cattle about to be shipped east. And where there are cattle, there are men — and now women — to herd them. Wyoming is "The Cowboy State."