Interesting Ohio facts

75 Interesting Facts About Ohio: The Buckeye State

Ohio is known as the birthplace of many things, like the NFL, the cash register, Wendy’s, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Below you’ll find out the many other things the “Buckeye State” is famous for with these fun and intriguing facts about Ohio. Also see these fun facts about Cleveland, one of the state’s top cities!

General Ohio Facts

  • Ohio is located in the Midwestern region of the US, as well as the Great Lakes region.

  • Ohio has a total land area of 44,825 mi² (116,096 km²), which makes the state the 34th largest state by area.
  • Compared to a country, Ohio is slightly larger than Cuba, or twice as large as Croatia.
  • The state is about as wide as it is tall, roughly 200 mi (355 km) from side to side or top to bottom.
  • With a population of nearly 11.8 million, the state ranks 7th in the nation, between Illinois and Georgia in number of people.
  • Ohio’s capital and largest city is Columbus, at the center of the state. With 905,000 people (metro 2.2 million), it is the 14th largest city (and 32nd largest metropolitan center) in the US. It is the 2nd largest city in the Midwest, after Chicago.
View of riverside park in Columbus, with buildings of downtown across the river
Columbus, the state capital
  • The state has two other major metropolitan centers: Cleveland, on Lake Erie, and Cincinnati, in the state’s southwest. Both are roughly equivalent in size to Columbus, although Columbus city proper is by far the largest of the “Three Cs”.
  • The state was named after the Ohio River, whose name originated from the Native American Seneca word “ohi:yo” which means “great river”. Columbus is of course named after Christopher Columbus.
  • Residents of Ohio are called Ohioans and Buckeyes. The latter goes back to 1840, when Ohioan William Henry Harrison won the presidency, and his supporters made campaign souvenirs out of buckeye wood.
  • Ohio’s nicknames include “The Buckeye State”, “Mother of Presidents” (8 US presidents have hailed from there), and “Birthplace of Aviation”.
  • Tourism slogans for the state have included “Ohio: The Heart of It All” and “”Ohio, So Much to Discover”, and “Ohio. Find it Here.”
A Victorian era indoor shopping arcade in Cleveland, Ohio
The Arcade in Cleveland, one of the oldest indoor shopping arcades in the US
  • OH is the abbreviation of Ohio.
  • Ohio has 80,000 Amish people, second only to Pennsylvania.
  • The official state bird is the cardinal, which can be found in all of the state’s 88 counties. The cardinal is also the state bird for 6 other states.
  • The official state bug is the ladybug, while the state beverage is tomato juice.
The state flag of Ohio
The Ohio state flag
  • Ohio has the only non-rectangular state flag – it is shaped like a triangular swallowtail. Its red, white, and blue stripes represent the states waterways, roads, and valleys. The O is for buckeye.

Interesting Facts About Ohio

  • Of the 8 US presidents from Ohio (Harrison, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, McKinley, Taft, Harding), 4 of them died while still in office. Ulysses S. Grant was the only one to complete two terms in office. No Ohioan president has been elected in the last 100 years.
  • There is one national park in Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is relatively young (added in 2000), and follows the old, abandoned Ohio and Erie Canal.
A waterfall surrounded by greenery in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cleveland sign with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame across the water
Cleveland sign with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame across the water
  • Cedar Point is the second oldest continuously running amusement park in the US, after Lake Compounce, Connecticut. It first opened in 1870. It has no less than 16 different rollercoasters.
  • The National Football League (NFL) was founded in Canton, Ohio in 1920.
  • Ohio is known for its aviation history. The Wright Brothers, who flew the first airplane, were from Ohio, as was Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.
  • John Glenn of Ohio became the oldest American to travel into space in 1998 at age 77.
A P-51 Mustang small airplane with a mouth and eyes painted on it on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Ohio
National Museum of the US Air Force
  • Ohio-born Annie Oakley starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and her shooting skills were second only to Buffalo Bill himself.
  • The first city to be lighted electrically in the world was Cleveland in 1879. Charles Brush demonstrated arc lights on the street successfully.
  • Avon, Ohio is known as the “Duct Tape Capital of the World“, having given birth to the the Duck® brand duct tape. The city also holds an annual duct tape festival.
  • The famous inventor Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio but grew up in Michigan. When he returned to his birthhouse in 1923, at age 76, he was shocked to find it was still lit by candles.
  • Some other famous Ohioans include director Stephen Spielberg, actors Dean Martin, Paul Newman, Clark Gable, Martin Sheen, Arsenio Hall, and Drew Carey, actresses Doris Day and Halle Berry, basketball players Lebron James and Stephen Curry, musician Marilyn Manson, and Nirvana/Foo Fighters member Dave Grohl.
A mosaic of famous people from Ohio
Famous Ohioans Halle Berry, Stephen Spielberg, Lebron James, Marilyn Manson, Drew Carey, and Dave Grohl (clockwise from top-left)
  • The first African American woman to gain a bachelor’s degree was Mary Jane Patterson in 1862, from Oberlin College in Lorain County, Ohio. In fact, Oberlin College was the first university in the nation to admit women in 1833 and African American students in 1835.
  • The first African American athlete to win a gold medal in an individual event at the Olympics was DeHart Hubbard of Cincinnati, Ohio, for long jump at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.
  • Asa A. Long of Antwerp, Ohio holds the world records for both youngest and oldest national champion in checkers.
  • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. was designed by Ohio-born designer Maya Lin, after her design was chosen out of over 1,400 submissions.
  • X-rays were used for the first time in surgery by John Gilman in Marietta in 1896.
A close up of a traffic light at night
America’s first traffic light was in Cleveland, Ohio
  • The first traffic light in the US was installed in Cleveland, Ohio at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street on August 5, 1914.
  • The cash register was invented in Ohio by James Jacob Ritty, who initially named his invention the “mechanical money drawer”.
  • Harry M. Stevens, AKA the Hot Dog Man, has been credited for inventing the drinking straw, and the baseball scorecard, and hot dog while working at a stadium in Ohio.
  • Wendy’s and Arby’s, two of America’s most successful fast-food chains, were founded in Ohio (in Columbus and Boardman, respectively).
  • Cleveland high school students created Superman in 1933. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster initially invented the character as a villain with psychic powers.
A cartoon row of skyscrapers along a waterfront with a superman logo in the sky emitting rays, below the moon
The idea for Superman was born in a Cleveland, Ohio classroom
  • 17 major pro sports championships have been won by Ohio sports teams, including the Cavaliers (NBA), Rams (NFL), Guardians (MLB), Reds (MLB), and Browns (NFL).
  • Ohio is known for its manufacturing industry, especially heating equipment, refrigeration, office machines, tires, jet engines, auto assembly, and machine tools.
  • Major companies that started or are headquartered in Ohio include Macy’s, Owens Corning, Eaton Corporation, Cardinal Health, Kroger, Procter & Gamble, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Progressive Insurance, Cardinal Health, and American Electric Power.
  • Campbell Hill in Logan County is the highest point in Ohio, at 1550 ft (472 m). The Ohio River is the lowest, at 455 ft (138 m).
A bridge across the Ohio River in central Cincinnati
The Ohio River in Cincinnati
  • Gallipolis, southern Ohio recorded the hottest temperature in the state’s history: 113°F (45°C) on July 21, 1934. Milligan recorded the coldest: -39°F (-39°C) on February 10, 1899.
  • Some strange Ohio laws still in existence include ones banning throwing a snake at someone, honking your horn “excessively”, catching mice without a hunting license, and selling Corn Flakes on a Sunday.

Historical Facts About Ohio

  • After the last ice age, the Erie Plain on the shore of Lake Erie was covered in bogs and small lakes.
  • As early as 13,000 years ago, Paleoindians hunted giant ground sloths in the area.
A snake-shaped earth mound running along the ground, with some people walking on a path beside it
Ancient Serpent Mound
  • In 1670, the Ohio region was first explored by Rene-Robert Cavelier, who claimed the land for France.
  • The Ohio Company of Virginia then claimed it for England in 1750, and the French surrender the land in 1763. The company sent George Washington to “Ohio country” to survey the land, sparking the Indian Wars.
A row of steamwheeler boats on the river in Marietta, Ohio
Steamwheelers in Marietta, Ohio
  • The Indian Wars ended in Ohio by the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.
  • On March 1, 1803, Ohio became the 17th state to join the Union, and the first post-colonial free state to do so. Chillicothe was the capital.
  • In 1812, Columbus city was planned, and in 1816, it became the capital.
  • In 1817, The Philanthropist was first published in Mt. Pleasant. It was the first abolitionist newspaper.
  • Oberlin College was founded in Oberlin in 1833. It was the first interracial and coeducational college in the country.
  • In 1834, the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was founded in Zanesville.
The Ohio Capitol building in Ohio lit up at night
Ohio State Capitol in Columbus
  • Ohio’s last Native American tribe, the Wyandottes, left the state in 1842.
  • In 1850, Salem held the second US Women’s Rights Convention.
  • Ohio became the first state to enact laws to protect working women in 1852.
  • In the early 1900s, Ohio became one of the first industrial powerhouses in the Midwest.
  • In 1903, the Wright Brothers of Ohio performed the first flight, over in North Carolina.
  • Ohio contributed nearly 10% of the US WWII armaments, and was also a major player in the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars.
A frozen river with downtown Columbus in background
Columbus in winter
  • In 1978, the largest blizzard in Midwest history killed over 50 in Ohio.
  • The first Japanese automaker to start production in the US was Honda in 1982. The production of Honda Accord began at Marysville, Ohio.
  • In 1995, the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland.
  • In 2011, Anthony Sowell was sentenced to death after he was found guilty of the murder of 11 women. The serial killer was known as the Cleveland Strangler.
  • In 2021, Ohio-based Proctor & Gamble announced it would send its Tide detergent to space as part of its “galactic battle against soiled, sweaty clothes.”
  • Also in 2021, the state announced five prizes of $1 for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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