We all know that North Carolina is the best state around…but we bet there are some things you did not know about our wonderful state! First of all, North Carolina is the one and only state in the nation with its very own toast. Now that deserves, well, a toast! Originally written as a poem in 1904 and adopted by the General Assembly in 1957 as our state toast; it is both patriotic and descriptive of our love for our fine state! We’ll drink to that!
Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!
Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron’s rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great,
In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where maidens* are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blest land, the best land, the Old North State!
Although we were quick to adopt a toast, NC was the last of the original 13 states to have a state motto. But, in 1893, the Latin words “Esse Quam Videri” became our state’s official motto. Translated to English it means, “To be rather than to seem” and nothing is lost in translation there! In a state full of genuine, hard working people with Southern values, there couldn’t be a more fitting motto.
Many people are aware that North Carolina’s state bird is the beautiful red feathered cardinal and it has been since 1943. What many don’t know is this fun fact; for a brief period, our state bird was actually the Chickadee! But the Chickadee only held that title for 3 days because of its unfortunate nickname, the Tomtit! Legislators were afraid North Carolina would become known as the “Tomtit State”…slightly less dignified than the “Tar heel State”.
Although not the state’s first flag, the current North Carolina state flag has been left almost unchanged in the last 125 years! In 1885 General Johnston Jones proposed to the General Assembly to adopt a new version of the state flag. Most of us are familiar with the vertical stripe of blue and horizontal red and white stripes that make up the flag. What you may not know is the history behind the two dates printed in the blue stripe. May 20, 1775 and April 12, 1776 appear above and below the letters “NC” and signify the passage of the Halifax Resolves which led to NC approving the Declaration of Independence. Only 2 minor changes have occurred since then. The official flag length was changed and the commas have been removed from the two dates.
NC is known for some of its beaches, mountains and barbeque but many aren’t aware of the beautiful lighthouses that should be celebrated in the state too. The oldest among these is the Bald Head Island Lighthouse, built in 1818 and standing at 109 feet. It is nicknamed “Old Baldy” and still stands proudly on Bald Head Island. The tallest lighthouse at 208 feet tall is Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Built in 1803 and then rebuilt in 1870 and moved to a new location in 1998, it contains a lot of history and charm! Built in 1950, The Oak Island Lighthouse is the brightest in the US! As if North Carolina doesn’t shine bright enough!