California State Facts - California History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these California history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name California
Capital Sacramento
38.54623 N, 121.42660 W
Constitution Ratified 1879
Statehood September 09, 1850
31st state
Number of Counties 58 Counties in California
Largest County
(by population)
Los Angeles
4,060 sq. mi.

California History Firsts & State Facts

  • 1542 - Spanish explorer Juan Rodiguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay, then continued north along the coast, making frequent trips ashore to claim land for Spain.
  • 1849 - The state motto is Eureka!, a Greek word translated "I have found it!" The motto was adopted in 1849 and alludes to the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada.
  • 1850 - In the late 1850s, Kennedy Mine, located in Jackson, served as one of the richest gold mines in the world and the deepest mine in North America.
  • 1851 - Author Richard Dana (1851-1882) wrote the novel "Two Years Before the Mast." He inspired the name for the beach community of Dana Point.
  • 1852 - The Iron Door Saloon in Groveland claims to be the oldest drinking establishment in the state. It was constructed in 1852.
  • 1902 - The first motion picture theater opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902.
  • 1910 - Pacific Park, on the venerable Santa Monica Pier, re-creates the amusement parks once dotting the ocean areas along the Pacific Coast. Featured are 11 amusement rides including the 1910-vintage hand-carved merry-go-round appearing in the movie "The Sting."
  • 1913 - The hottest day ever in the United States was when the temperature hit 56.7 (135 F) degrees Celsius on July 10, 1913 at Death Valley, California
  • 1922 - Demonstrations on making toothpaste from orange by-products were popular attractions at the Los Angeles County fair. The fair is held in Pomona.
  • 1925 - A giant sequoia located in California's Kings Canyon National Park was named the nation's national Christmas tree. The tree is over 300 feet in height.
  • 1926 - On Catalina Island, American author Zane Grey built a pueblo-style home on the hillside overlooking Avalon Bay. He spent much of his later life in Avalon. The home is now a hotel.
  • 1947 - Castroville is known as the Artichoke Capital of the World. A young woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville's first Artichoke Queen. She went on to become actress Marilyn Monroe.
  • 1960 - The first person to personally receive a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood was actress Joanne Woodward.
  • 1990 - More immigrants settle in the state California than in any other state. They made up more than 30 percent of all immigrants to the United States. Most immigrants settling in California come from Asian-Pacific countries such as Japan and China.

More California History Firsts & State Facts

  • California's Mount Whitney measures as the highest peak in the lower 48 states. Its most famous climb is Mount Whitney Trail to the 14,495 feet summit. Wilderness permits are required.
  • California is known variously as "The Land of Milk & Honey," "The El Dorado State," "The Golden State," and "The Grape State."
  • Death Valley in southern California is the lowest point in the United States at 282 feet below sea level. The highest point in the contiguous 48 states is also in California: Mount Whitney, which is 14,491 feet above sea level.
  • More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the United States.
  • Alpine County is the eighth smallest of California's 58 counties. It has no high school, ATMs, dentists, banks, or traffic lights.
  • Fallbrook is known as the Avocado Capital of the World and hosts an annual Avocado Festival. More avocados are grown in the region than any other county in the nation.
  • Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, in Danville, marks the home of the only Nobel Prize winning playwright from the United States.
  • An animal called the riparian brush rabbit calls Caswell Memorial State Park (near Manteca) its home. Endemic only to the state's park system, the critter lives in approximately 255 acres stretching along the area's once-vast hardwood forest.
  • In Pacific Grove there is a law on the books establishing a $500 fine for molesting butterflies.
  • The largest three-day rodeo in the United States is held on the Tehama County Fairgrounds in Red Bluff.
  • Located in Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum is the largest museum of its kind in North America.
  • Several celebrities are buried at Hillside Cemetery in Culver City. Included gravesites are those of Al Jolson, George Jessel, Eddie Canter, Jack Benny, and Percy Faith.
  • California Caverns claims the distinction of being the most extensive system of caverns and passageways in the Mother Lode region of the state.
  • Totaling nearly three million acres, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the country.
  • Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge contains the largest winter population of bald eagles in the continental United States.
  • It is estimated that each year there are approximately 500,000 detectable seismic tremors in California.
  • Using satellite-surveying techniques, scientists have determined that Los Angeles, California is moving east. At a rate estimated to be about one-fifth of an inch per year, the city is moving closer to the San Gabriel Mountains.
  • The California Redwoods, Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia, are the tallest and largest living organisms in the world. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, California, is the largest tree in the world. It weighs more than 6,000 tons.
  • In Atwater the Castle Air Museum has the largest display of military aircraft in the state.
  • The Country Store in Baker has sold more winning California State Lottery tickets than any outlet in the state.
  • Reputed to be the most corrupt politician in Fresno County history, Vice-leader Joseph Spinney was mayor for only ten minutes.
  • Dick and Mac McDonald opened the first McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, California.
  • The Hollywood Bowl is the world's largest outdoor amphitheater.
  • Death Valley is recognized as the hottest, driest place in the United States. It isn't uncommon for the summer temperatures to reach more than 115 degrees.
  • Inyo National Forest is home to the bristle cone pine, the oldest living species. Some of the gnarled trees are thought to be over 4,600 years old.
  • San Francisco Bay is considered the world's largest landlocked harbor.
  • General Sherman Tree.Sequoia National Park: The largest sequoia is the General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman is 275 feet tall, has a circumference of 102 feet, and a diameter of 30 feet. At a height of 180 feet the General Sherman Tree maintains a 13 feet diameter. The Sherman Tree is the largest because it contains the largest volume of wood of any tree on earth. In 1987 it was estimated to contain 52,508 cubic feet of wood.
  • The Coachella Valley is nicknamed The Date Capital of the world and The Playground of Presidents.
  • One out of every eight United States residents lives in California.
  • California is the first state to ever reach a trillion dollar economy in gross state product.
  • California has the largest economy in the states of the union.
  • If California's economic size were measured by itself to other countries, it would rank the 7th largest economy in the world.
  • Los Angeles is ranked the fourth largest economy in the United States compared to other states.
  • Simi Valley is the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
  • It is estimated there are approximately 500,000 detectable seismic tremors in California annually.
  • During his engagement at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, Otis Redding stayed on a houseboat in Sausalito. While there he wrote his last song and greatest hit: "The Dock of the Bay."
  • California is known variously as The Land of Milk and Honey, The El Dorado State, The Golden State, and The Grape State.
  • There are more than 300,000 tons of grapes grown in California annually.
  • California produces more than 17 million gallons of wine each year.
  • Redwood is the official state tree. Some of the giant redwoods in Sequoia National Park are more than 2,000 years old.
  • California poppy is the official state flower. The California grizzly bear (Ursus californicus) is the official state animal.
  • California holds two of the top ten most populous cities: Los Angeles and San Diego.
  • Fresno proclaims itself the Raisin Capital of the World.
  • The highest and lowest points in the continental United States are within 100 miles of one another. Mount Whitney measures 14,495 feet and Bad Water in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level.
  • "" web site is published in Santa Clarita.
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