88 Fun & Interesting Facts About Pennsylvania

Are you ready to explore a state full of history, chocolate, and lots of fun? Let’s pack our bags and head to Pennsylvania, a place where some really important events in American history happened. So, tie your shoelaces tight because we’re about to go on an adventure through all these fun facts about Pennsylvania!

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Did you know that Pennsylvania is called the “Keystone State”? It got this nickname because it was in the middle of the 13 original colonies, just like the keystone in an arch that holds all the other stones together. Pennsylvania played a big part in building the United States, especially since it’s where the Declaration of Independence was signed in a city called Philadelphia. That’s a pretty big deal!

Now, let’s talk about something sweet—chocolate! Pennsylvania is home to Hershey, the town that smells like chocolate. It’s where the famous Hershey’s chocolate is made, and there’s even a whole world of chocolate called Hersheypark, where you can ride roller coasters and eat lots of chocolate treats. Imagine a place where everything seems to be made of chocolate. Yum!

But Pennsylvania isn’t just about history and chocolate; it also has some amazing natural beauty. There are forests, rivers, and mountains where you can hike, camp, and explore. The state is home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, which isn’t as big as the real Grand Canyon, but it’s still a breathtaking sight with beautiful views and great spots for picnics.

Are you excited to learn more facts about Pennsylvania? From its important role in American history to its delicious chocolate and beautiful landscapes, there’s so much to discover about this fantastic state. Let’s dive in and find out all the amazing things that make Pennsylvania a special place to visit and learn about!

Be sure to discover even more interesting facts with our Facts about Mississippi and our Facts about South Carolina.

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Facts about Pennsylvania

  1. The Pennsylvania Dutch aren’t Dutch at all. After migrating to America from Germany, they were called Pennsylvania Deutsch, which is the German word for Germanic people. Eventually, the English language converted Deutsch into Dutch.
  2. America’s first baseball stadium was built in Pittsburgh, PA in 1909.
  3. There is a fire that has been burning in Pennsylvania since 1962. It’s estimated to keep burning for over 250 years.
  4. Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn. The name of the state comes from the name of the founder’s father (Admiral William Penn) and not his own. The founder William Penn wanted the state to be named “Sylvania”. (Sylvania is a Latin word meaning “woodlands.”)
  5. Many Native American tribes once lived in what is now Pennsylvania before the colonial era.
  6. From 1894-1908, Philadelphia City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the world (at 548 feet in height). It is taller and has more rooms than the U.S. Capitol.
  7. The city of Philadelphia was home to the first Continental Congress of the United States and was the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
  8. People might have been living in Pennsylvania for as many as 19,000 years!
  9. Pennsylvania was nicknamed “The Keystone State” because of its geographical location among the thirteen original colonies. A keystone is a stone on which the associated stones depend for support. 
  10. The Philadelphia Zoo opened on July 1st, 1874. It was signed into existence on March 21st, 1859, and was supposed to open sooner, but it was delayed because of the Civil War. The first chimpanzees and the first orangutans born in the United States were born at this zoo.
  11. Pennsylvania fought against attacking Indians during the 1760s, in the Pontiac’s War.
  12. The smiley face emoticon was invented in Pittsburgh by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Scott Fahlman on September 19, 1982.
  13. Philadelphia native Bill Cosby played football at Central High School despite his grandfather warning him he wasn’t strong enough. He broke his shoulder in the first game of the season. 
  14. Pennsylvania contains 20 state forests and 116 state parks.
  15. The first Europeans to explore Pennsylvania were British.
  16. Pennsylvania is almost rectangular in shape.
  17. The Pittsburgh Steelers team was founded in 1933. It was founded by Arthur J. Rooney, and it was the 7th NFL franchise to join the league.
  18. Pennsylvania participated in the first meetings of the Thirteen Colonies in the 1760s.
  19. The only time George Washington surrendered his army was when he was a 22-year-old colonel working under the orders of the British Army. His battle and surrender marked the first battle of the French and Indian War.
  20. A Pennsylvania couple got married at a Philadelphia Dunkin’ Donuts in 2005.
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  1. Pennsylvania’s major industries include farming, mining, electronics, and pharmaceuticals.
  2. The first Europeans to colonize parts of Pennsylvania were actually Swedish.
  3. Of the original thirteen colonies, Pennsylvania is the only one that does not border the Atlantic Ocean. Along with New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland, Pennsylvania is classified as a Middle Atlantic state.
  4. “Penn” comes from William Penn, who founded the colony. He wanted to name it after his father. The second half, “Sylvania,” is the Latin word for wood. In Latin, the name Pennsylvania translates to “Penn’s Woods”.
  5. Aside from its usual nicknames, people have also branded Pennsylvania as the Chocolate State, Coal State, Oil State, and Steel State. All of these reflect one each of the Pennsylvanian economy’s most profitable sectors.
  6.  In 1883, the City Hotel in Pennsylvania was the first building to be lit with Thomas Edison’s three-wire system.
  7. The Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson, P.A., was the largest concrete structure in the world when it was completed in 1915.
  8. Pennsylvania leads the country in a lot of things. Some include the number of licensed hunters, pretzel bakeries, sausage production, covered bridges, and rural population.
  9. The oldest golf course in the United States is located in Clarion, P.A.
  10. The Pennsylvania Colony was founded as a place of religious freedom.
  11. In October 1682, the younger William brought 360 settlers who believed in religious freedom and a fair government to form this 12th of the 13 English colonies.
  12. On September 27, 1777, Lancaster served as the country’s capital for just one day.
  13. The Philly Cheesesteak was made in Philadelphia in the 1930s by two brothers who ran a hot dog stand. There are also famous handmade pretzels that German settlers brought over. 
  14. Whoopie pies were created in Pennsylvania by Amish women.
  15. Western parts of the state can get up to 2 meters of snow in winter, with temperatures possibly dropping to -41°C. In March and April, the entirety of the state commonly experiences flooding. Tornadoes also usually strike in Pennsylvania, with up to 30 damaging tornadoes developing per year.
  16. The polio vaccine was created in Pittsburgh in 1955. Children in the city were the first to be given the new vaccine.
  17. There have been more than 10 reported sightings of a ghost named Fred at the historic State Theater in downtown Easton. Fred was the manager of the theater from 1936 to 1965 and lived there for a short time.
  18. Pennsylvania is famous for its Amish population. In fact, it has the highest Amish population in the world.
  19. Pennsylvania was the second state to join the United States of America on December 12, 1787.
  20.  In 1952 a Norwegian musician attempted to create a New Norway in Stewardson, Potter County. It is now known as the Ole Bull State Park.
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  1. The chocolate capital of the U.S. is located within the state. It is in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which is where the headquarters for the Hershey Company and their chocolate factory is located. Hershey is well known for its chocolate products like Hershey Kisses, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Kit Kats.
  2. As of 2019, 12.8 million people lived in the state of Pennsylvania.
  3. Erie, Pennsylvania, was the snowiest city in the United States (with a population over 100,000) during the 2013-2014 winter. The city received 138.4 inches of snow.
  4. The Crayola Factory is located in Lehigh Valley, producing nearly 3 billion crayons each year. That’s an average of 12 million daily, enough to wrap the earth six times.
  5. Benjamin Franklin started the country’s first zoo in Philadelphia.
  6. Pennsylvania was a key member of the Union, raising some 360,000 soldiers and contributing large amounts of vital military equipment. 
  7.  In the early years of its existence, Pennsylvania maintained low inflation. It attracted new colonists and allowed them to live better with less money.
  8. The first American piano was built here. It was designed and built in Philadelphia by Charles Albrecht in 1789. It was a Square Grand piano, and it sparked the popularity of the piano in the United States.
  9. Pennsylvania has its own dialect of the German language. Also called Pennsylvania German, the dialect resulted from the 28.5% of Pennsylvanians that have German descent. 
  10. When it opened in 1882, the Kinzua Bridge in McKean County, Pennsylvania, was the longest and tallest railroad bridge in the world.
  11. Pittsburgh has become somewhat of a Hollywood mecca in recent years. Hits like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” and “The Fault In Our Stars” were all filmed here.
  12. Punxsutawney, P.A. is home to the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil who famously predicts the weather every Groundhog Day.
  13. President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most important speeches in U.S. history in Pennsylvania.
  14. Philadelphia, the state’s largest city, is home to Independence Hall where the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were drafted. Philadelphia is also the first planned city in North America.
  15. The Rockville Bridge opened on March 30th, 1902, and it was built as part of the effort to connect Pennsylvania to Chicago by railroad. The bridge is 3,380 feet long, and it is supported by 48 arches.
  16. Pennsylvania requires all children aged 7 to 17 to attend school.
  17. In 1943, the Steelers and Eagles formed a combined team because neither could field a full team due to World War II. The team was called the Steagles and they finished with a winning record, something the Eagles had yet to achieve.
  18. Centralia, PA has been on fire since 1962. The fire started with an accidental garbage fire that spread to the town’s coal mine, which has been burning underground ever since.
  19. Pennsylvania’s state bird is the Ruffed Grouse and the state flower is the Mountain Laurel.
  20. Pennsylvania is home to the oldest gas station in the U.S.
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  1. Pennsylvania is the second state, after Delaware, to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America. At the time it was the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the thirteen States.
  2. Daniel Boone was born on November 2nd, 1734, in Oley Valley, Pennsylvania, and he is best known for exploring and settling in Kentucky.
  3. Pennsylvania allows parents to home-school their children. First allowed in 1988, the law still sets down strict rules and requirements for homeschooled children and their parents or guardians to meet. Failing to meet them will result in legal action from the state government.
  4. The highest point in PA (Mount Davis at 3,213 feet) is at a lower elevation than the lowest point in the entire state of Colorado (3,315 feet).
  5. Centralia is the least populated municipality in Pennsylvania, with 10 residents still living there as of the 2010 census.
  6. The Constitution was first signed in Philadelphia in 1787.
  7. Kennett Square, a small town in Pennsylvania is known as the “mushroom capital of the world.” The county itself produces more than 50% of the entire annual U.S. mushroom crop.
  8. The Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American Independence, is located in Pennsylvania. The bell can be seen in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park.
  9. The Big Mac was invented by Jim Delligatti, who owned several McDonald’s restaurants near Pittsburgh. It was first served in Uniontown in 1967, and there is even a Big Mac Museum that you can visit.
  10. Philadelphia’s infamous Eastern State Penitentiary had indoor plumbing and central heating before the White House did.
  11. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in Pennsylvania.
  12. Pennsylvania has the highest concentration of Amish (known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology) in the U.S.
  13. The Upper Delaware River is on the northeast border of this state. The river also borders New York, and its total length is 73.4 miles (118 kilometers). 
  14. One-third of the Upper Delaware River is classified as scenic, and the other two-thirds is for recreational use. The Roebling Bridge goes over the river and is said to be the oldest existing wire cable suspension bridge.
  15. In 1893, Pennsylvania declared Valley Forge as its state park to honor and preserve the place where Washington and the Continental Army took camp during the war. During the USA Bicentennial Anniversary in 1976, Pennsylvania donated the park to the federal government. 
  16. The Jeep was invented by the Bantam Car Company in Butler, PA. However, the U.S. military didn’t think they could produce enough models and gave the plans to Ford.
  17. Built in Lakemont Park in Altoona in 1902, Leap-The-Dips is the world’s oldest operating wooden roller coaster and is the last surviving side friction roller coast in North America.
  18. The first general-purpose computer was built in Philadelphia in 1946.
  19. The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser was the nation’s first daily newspaper. It was published first on September 21, 1784.
  20. The brook trout is native to Pennsylvania and is actually the only trout that is native to the state. Brook trout tend to live in clear, cold-water streams, and they are found all over the state.
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  1. The Allegheny National Forest stands in the middle of Pennsylvania’s oil country, only 64 km from the USA’s first commercial oil well in Titusville. Today, it’s estimated that around 17% of the state’s oil reserves stay protected from exploitation in the forest’s boundaries.
  2. In 1881, Pennsylvania produced more than 75% of the world’s oil.
  3. The first complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found is on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
  4. Indiana County in Pennsylvania has come to be known as the Christmas Tree Capital of the World.
  5. In Historic Bethlehem, The Moravian Book Shop stands as the oldest continuously operating bookshop in the world, founded in 1745.
  6. The first transplant of human brain cells – called neurons – was done on 23 June 1998 on a 62-year-old stroke patient at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
  7. The first daily newspaper was published in Pennsylvania on September 21, 1784.
  8. The first department store to open in the U.S. was the one known as Wannamaker’s. It opened on Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, around 1876.

Do you have even more interesting facts about Pennsylvania? Share them with us in the comments! 

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