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In America, Even States Get Nicknames

  • Ted Landphair

That’s the beehive symbol above the door of what was once the Mormon community’s Mercantile Co-Operative Association store in little Ephraim, Utah.

That’s the beehive symbol above the door of what was once the Mormon community’s Mercantile Co-Operative Association store in little Ephraim, Utah.

Some are logical, but others can confound

Every U.S. state has a nickname - sometimes more than one. Many are logical. They just sort of evolved.

Of course, Arizona is “The Grand Canyon State,” and Kentucky, home to the lush “horse country” where magnificent thoroughbreds are raised and raced, is “The Bluegrass State.”

Other nicknames came straight from promotional campaigns. New Mexico’s “Land of Enchantment,” for instance, touts that southwestern state’s spectacular sunsets and other natural attractions.

But others are downright curious, even to many Americans. New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment,” is famous for sunsets such as this one.

New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment,” is famous for sunsets such as this one.

Why, for instance, is Utah “the Beehive State?” Are there more buzzing insects than usual in that dry western state?

No, but there are more people of the Mormon faith there than elsewhere else in America, and the beehive is the Mormon Church's symbol for industriousness.

One sees it above store entrances and on the Utah state seal.

Here’s an interesting one: Connecticut is called “The Nutmeg State,” but not necessarily because of the nutmeg spice - a precious cargo the state’s sailors used to bring home from trade journeys to Asia. Connecticut Yankees, as people in this northeastern state are called, have a reputation for being shrewd in business. So shrewd that it was said they could sell phony wooden nutmegs to strangers.

The midwestern state of Indiana is called the “Hoosier State,” but nobody is quite sure why. One story is that pioneer settlers on the prairie were a little nervous opening their doors. “Who's zher?” they would say. No wonder the state legislature instead prefers to call Indiana the “Crossroads of America.”

A couple more, quickly: The northern plains state of North Dakota is called “The Flickertail State.” You’d probably guess that a flickertail is some pretty prairie bird. Nope. It’s a feisty little ground squirrel.

And early residents of the midwestern state of Missouri were said to be so stubborn, so skeptical, that Missouri became, and is still called, “The Show-Me State.”

No time to explain some other curious nicknames, such as “The Buckeye State” (Ohio), “The Sooner State” (Oklahoma), “The Keystone State” (Pennsylvania) and “The Blue Hen State” (Delaware)

Trust us: no public-relations person came up with that “Blue Hen” one.

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