CALIFORNIA FACTS caflagb.gif (7877 bytes)

Famous For: Spanish Missions, Gold Rush, Golden Gate Bridge, Wine Country, Citrus, Giant Sequoia Redwoods, Hollywood, Disneyland, Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, Earthquakes, and Death Valley11

California is known variously as The Land of Milk and Honey, The El Dorado State, The Golden State, and The Grape State. 1 

Statehood: September 9, 1850 (31st state)

AGRICULTURE                                                                  GEOGRAPHY

NATURE                                                                               HISTORY

CULTURE                                                                            ECONOMIC

PEOPLE                                                                                STATE INSIGNIA    


FIRSTS & INVENTIONS                                                   

     Business                                                          Entertainment/Communication

Miscellaneous                                                               Recreation

Social                                                                              Technology





Number one - California has been the number one agricultural state for more than 50 years!3  No other state even comes close.

California farmers and ranchers produce $73 million in food, fiber and flowers every day.3

Since the state grows more than half of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables, there’s a fifty-fifty chance it’s from California.  Oh, and don’t forget artichokes, brussels sprouts, almonds, dates, figs, kiwifruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, dried plums (prunes), and walnuts—they will be hard to find growing in any other state.7 

Nationally, products exclusively grown (99 percent or more) in California include almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts.13

Dairy - California is the nation's number one dairy state. 13

Dairy - California's leading commodity is milk and cream. Grapes are second. 13

Grapes - There are more than 300,000 tons of grapes grown in California annually. 1 

Turkeys - More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the United States. 1 

Avocado - 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. 1 

Wine - California produces more than 17 million gallons of wine each year. 1 

Raisins - Fresno proclaims itself the Raisin Capital of the World. 1 

Artichoke - Castroville is known as the Artichoke Capital of the World. 1 

Almonds - California's leading export crop is almonds. 13

Onions - California produces 25 percent of the nation's onions and 43 percent of the nation's green onions.13

Garlic - Gilroy, California is the "Garlic Capitol of the World," where 2 million people have traveled to attend the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.13  

Oranges - The first two navel orange trees in the U.S. were from Brazil and planted in Riverside, California, about 1875. Virtually all navel oranges grown in the U.S. are offspring from these trees. One of the original trees was replanted by Teddy Roosevelt in in 1903 but died. The other is still alive today in a park in Riverside!9

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Highest Peak - 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. 1  

Highest & Lowest Points - 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. 1 

Largest County - Totaling nearly three million acres, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the country. 1 

Hottest Place - 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. 1  The hottest day ever in the United States was when the temperature hit 56.7 degrees Celsius (135 degrees Fahrenheit) on July 10, 1913 at Death Valley, California.6

Largest Landlocked Harbor - San Francisco Bay is considered the world's largest landlocked harbor. 1 

Crookedest Street - Lombard Street in San Francisco, California has the most twists and turns of any street in the world.

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Largest Living Organisms - 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.6  Its trunk is 102 feet in circumference. 1 

Tallest Living Thing - A redwood tree in California has been dubbed the Tallest Living Thing.  It is about 367 feet high and resides in Montgomery Woods State Reserve.9

Oldest Living Organisms - 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. 1 

Earthquake - It is estimated there are approximately 500,000 detectable seismic tremors in California annually. 1 

Highest Waterfall - Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park is the continent's highest waterfall.

Forests - California has more forest land than any state other than Alaska.7

Bald Eagles - Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge contains the largest winter population of bald eagles in the continental United States. 1 

Rocks - California has a greater number of minerals and a wider variety of rock types than does any other state.5  

Largest Granite Monolith - Yosemite Valley's biggest wall, El Capitan, is also known as the largest granite monolith in the world: 3,000 vertical feet.17

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Eureka - 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. 1   

Bear Flag - In the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846, which occurred during the Mexican-American War, a group of American settlers in what was then the Mexican-ruled territory of California proclaimed independence and hoisted the original Bear Flag (June 14, 1846). The following month American naval forces seized control of the area, and the flag of the short-lived California Republic was replaced by the Stars and Stripes.2

In 1846 California was part of Mexico and Americans were the minority (only 500 Americans compared to 8,000-12,000 Mexicans). Nevertheless, a group of American settlers revolted against the Mexican authorities in what's called the Bear Flag War. A mere dozen or so Americans captured Sonoma, declared independence for the "Republic of California "and raised a flag depicting a grizzly bear facing a red star (now California's state flag). The Republic was short-lived, however, yet it cleared a path toward U.S. statehood.11

Historic California Bear Flag as photographed in 1890. This flag, raised at Sonoma on June 14, 1846, was in the possession of the Society of California Pioneers at the time of the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, and burned during the conflagration.4  

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Gold Rush - “The Gold Rush shaped who Californians are as a people-risk takers, eccentrics and innovators-and how the rest of the world still perceives them.”  Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News12

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Railroad Museum - Located in Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum is the largest museum of its kind in North America. 1 

Theater - The first motion picture theater opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902. 1 

Amphitheater - The Hollywood Bowl is the world's largest outdoor amphitheater. 1 

Walk of Fame - The first person to personally receive a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood was actress Joanne Woodward. She received it in 1960. 1 

California Missions  - There are 21 Spanish Missions stretching a 600 miles span in California from San Diego up to San Francisco. They were built between 1769 and 1823 using a Spanish architecture which has influenced California for hundreds of years. Many have been destroyed by fire, earthquake and other disasters, including misuse, but nearly all have been restored. The Missions are: [1. San Diego de Alcalá] [2. San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo] [3. San Antonio de Padua] [4. San Gabriel Arcángel] [5. San Luis Obispo de Tolosa] [6. San Francisco de Asís] [7. San Juan Capistrano] [8. Santa Clara de Asís] [9. San Buenaventura] [10. Santa Bárbara] [11. La Purísima Concepción] [12. Santa Cruz] [13. Nuestra Señora de la Soledad] [14. San José] [15. San Juan Bautista] [16. San Miguel Arcángel] [17. San Fernando Rey de España] [18. San Luis Rey de Francia] [19. Santa Inés] [20. San Rafael Arcángel] [21. San Francisco Solano]  

Kwanzaa – In 1966, scholar and activist Maulana Karenga, of California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa, the first African American cultural holiday.

Gay Church – On October 6, 1968, Troy Perry founded the Metropolitan Community Church, the first church to recognize the necessity of ministering to the need of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons.

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Trillion $ - California is the first state to ever reach a trillion dollar economy in gross state product. 1 

Largest State Economy - California has the largest economy in the states of the union. 1  In economic terms California is more aptly compared with nations than with other U.S. states. The total value of its goods and services is surpassed only by the United States as a whole and a few other industrialized nations.10

World Economy - If California's economic size were measured by itself to other countries, it would rank the 5th largest economy in the world. The fifth-largest economy on the planet is no longer that of France. It's now California, according to figures compiled by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.  Based on figures prior to the U.S. economy softening, the business group says California's economy rang the cash register at $1.33 trillion in 2000, putting it just ahead of France and just behind the United Kingdom.  The California-compiled figures includes numbers provided by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Overall, the United States is the world's top economy followed by Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, California [if it were broken out as a country] and then France. Following France, the top 10 would be rounded out by China, Italy, Canada and Brazil. (June 15, 2001)15

LA Economy - Los Angeles is ranked the fourth largest economy in the United States compared to other states. 1

Energy Consumption - According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administation, (Primary Energy Consumed in California by Source, 1997), California ranks 3rd in the nation in production of crude oil; 11th in production of natural gas; 3rd in net generation of hydroelectric power; and 6th in nuclear electricity. While it ranks 2nd in the total amount of energy consumed, it ranks 48th in the amount consumed per person. California ranks lst in the use of energy in the residential, commercial and transportation sectors and 3rd in the industrial sector. The state is 2nd in the use of natural gas, petroleum and electricity (after Texas).8

Largest Oil-Producing Field - The largest oil-producing field in the lower 48 states is in Taft, California.9

Largest Man-made Waterfall - The spillway over Shasta Dam in Redding, California creates the world's largest man-made waterfall at 438 feet.9

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Did you know that all of these sports stars were from California?20

Baseball - Joe DiMaggio (San Francisco); Jackie Robinson (Pasadena); Ted Williams (San Diego); Barry Bonds (San Mateo); Frank Robinson (Oakland)

Cycling – Greg LeMond (Lakewood)

Diving – Greg Lougainis (El Cajon)

Football – John Elway (Geanada Hills); Frank Gifford (Bakersfield)

Golf – Tiger Woods (Cypress)

Jockey – Willie Shoemaker (El Monte)

Skating – Peggy Fleming (San Jose)

Swimming – Mark Spitz (Sacramento); Janet Evans (Placentia); Matt Biondi (Moraga)

Tennis – Pete Sampras (Palos Verdes); Billie Jean King (Long Beach)

Track & Field – Bob Mathias (Tulare); Florence Griffith Joyner (Los Angeles); Rafer Johnson (Kingsburg)

Volleyball – Karch Kiraly (Los Angeles)



Zamboni machines, the ice rink resurfacers, were invented by Frank Zamboni and still being manufactured near Los Angeles, California. Sonja Henning had one made for her.9  He built the world’s first ice-resurfacing machine in Paramount, in 1949. 12

Off-Shore Oil Wells - In 1896, the world’s first off-shore oil wells were drilled from wooden piers that extended into the ocean off the shore of Summerland, near Santa Barbara.12

Levi’s JeansLevi Strauss arrived in Gold rush-era San Francisco (1853) and created “waist overalls”, later called “jeans” from canvas, denim and rivets. 12

Hard Hat – In 1919, Edward Bullard and his son developed the world’s first commercially available industrial head-production device in San Francisco. 12

Electric Guitar – Adolph Rickenbacker and George Beauchamp’s Electro String Instrument Corporation of Los Angeles produced the first commercially successful electric guitar, the “Frying Pan,” in 1932. 12

Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis Designed and built in San Diego. 12

First Aircraft to break the Sound Barrier – On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager (USAF) piloting the rocket-powered Bell X-1, exceeded Mach 1.06 or 700 miles per hour – faster than the speed of sound. 12

World's Largest Aircraft to Fly – Howard Hughes HD-1 Hercules, better known as the Spruce Goose, boasts a 320-foot wingspan, 17-foot tall propellers, and a payload capacity of 750 troops.  On November 3, 1947, Hughes flew the eight-engine, plywood and birch aircraft over the waters off Long Beach, covering a distance of about a mile and reaching a height of 85 feet. 12

Canned Tuna – In 1903 the Southern California Fish Company processed and canned 700 cases of albacore tuna and distributed them to grocery stores throughout the area. 12

Popsicle – On night in 1905, 11 year old San Francisco native Frank Epperson decided to fix himself a drink of flavored soda water.  He left the concoction, stick and all on his front porch.  As luck would have it, the temperature dipped below freezing that night, and the soda water froze around the stick.  The enterprising young man began his entrepreneurial career by first sharing his frozen creation with his schoolmates and then selling it. First called an “Epsicle”, it was later changed to “Pop’s sicle” or Popsicle. 12

Boysenberry – Horticulturist Rudy Boysen successfully crossed a red raspberry, a loganberry, and a blackberry to create a new purple-red berry that was shaped like a large raspberry but ad a sweet-tart flavor. 12

Potato Chips in a Bag – In 1926, Laura and Charles Scudder hand packed their potato chips in wax-paper bags and then sealed the tops with a hot iron. 12

Fortune Cookie – Local San Francisco legend has attributed the creation of the first fortune cookie to Makoto Hagiwara.  He developed the cookie sometime between 1907 and 1914 as a tasty accompaniment to the tea served in his tea house.  His “fortunes,” however, were actually thank you notes. 12

Food Firsts12

Martini – 1869, San Francisco or Martinez

Cioppino – 1900, San Francisco

Chicken Tetrazzini – 1908, San Francisco

Crab Louis – 1914, San Francisco

Green Goddess salad dressing – 1915, San Francisco

French dip sandwich – 1918, Los Angeles

Cobb salad – 1937, Brown Derby

Double-deck hamburger – 1937, Glendale

Mai Tai – 1944, Emeryville

Irish coffee – 1952 or 1953, San Francisco

Rice-A-Roni – 1958, San Francisco

Ruby Seedless table grapes – 1968, University of California, Davis

Food Chains12

A&W root Beer restaurants – 1936, Lodi

Bob’s Big Boy – 1936, Glendale

McDonalds – In 1940, Maurice and Richard McDonald opened a barbecue car-hop type restaurant located in San Bernardino, Ca. Shortly after W.W.II, they paired the menu down to offer burgers, fries, and shakes.  Ray Croc, a restaurant appliance salesman, was baffled as to why they needed so many milk shake makers.  He found out soon enough. Franchise rights were sold in 1955, and Ray Croc opened one up in Des Plaines, Ill. This was his first, but actually the 9th McDonalds. And the rest, as they say, is history. A museum has recently opened up at the original location-14th and E streets in San Bernardino.9

Carl’s Jr. – 1941, Los Angeles

Hot Dog on a Stick – 1946, Santa Monica

Baskin-Robbins – 1948, Glendale

Jack in the Box – 1951, San Diego

Denny’s – 1953, Lakewood

Shakey’s Pizza – 1954

International House of Pancakes – 1958, Toluca Lake

Sizzler Steak House – 1958, Culver City

Taco Bell – 1962, Downey

Marie Callender’s – 1964, Southern California

Coco’s – 1966, Orange County

Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater – 1977, San Jose

Panda Express – 1983, Glendale

California Pizza Kitchen – 1985, Los Angeles

      Sea Ports - Long Beach is the 6th busiest port in the world, Los Angeles is 8th 19

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Radio broadcasting - The first radio broadcast was made from San Jose in 1909 and called San Jose Calling.

TV- The TV was invented in 1927 in San Francisco by Philo T. Farnsworth.12

First Sound Cartoon - Mickey Mouse made his film debut in 1928 in Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon to successfully incorporate synchronized sound.12

First Full-Length Animated Film - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs hold the distinction of being the world’s first full-length animated feature film.12

First Special Effects Film - In July 1982, the Walt Disney Company release Tron, a live actions film starting Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. Tron’s filmmakers, in conjunction with two Los Angeles and two New York computer and special effects firms, used computers to create an entire three-dimensional world.  The film was shot on sound stages at Disney Studios in Burbank, on location in Los Angeles, and at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory outside Oakland.12  

First Themed Amusement Park – In the 1940s, Walter and Cordelia Knott transformed their restaurant (serving fried chicken and boysenberry pie) into an amusement part, Knott’s Berry Farm. 12

Disneyland – Opened by Walt Disney on July 17, 1955 in Anaheim. 12

Theme Parks - 7 of the top 10 amusement theme parks in the world are Disney (Tokyo Disneyland #1, The Majic Kingdom #2, Disneyland California #3, Disneyland Paris #4) 19

First Disco – West Hollywood’s Whisky a Go-Go significantly changed the traditional nightclub business with its opening on January 11, 1964 catering to a young, mod crowd hell-bent on partying with abandon. 12

First Three–Reel Slot Machine – In 1899, Charles Fey introduced the world’s first three-reel slot machine in San Francisco. 12  

Rolling Stone - The Rolling Stones gave their first official concert in the United States in San Bernardino, California, June 1964.9

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Hard hats were first used during the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. 12

Low-rider cars, Hells Angels started in California. 12

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2004 Olympics – 140 (26%) of the 531 USA Olympic athletes were from California. (2nd place was 29 athletes from Texas.)

Beach volleyball – Beach volleyball began in Santa Monica in 1930.12

Frisbee – In 1947, Walter Frederick Morrison & Warren Franscioni, two former World War II pilots invented the prototype disc, the Flyin’ Saucer, in the basement of a San Luis Obispo home.12

Ant Farm – The Ant Farm was introduced in 1956 by Milton Levine of Westlake Village. 12

Snowboard - In 1979, Mark Anolik discovers the Tahoe City Halfpipe while nosing around behind the Tahoe City dump. This becomes known as the world's first snowboard halfpipe and attracts the likes of Terry Kidwell, Keith Kimmel, and photographers from the skateboard magazines.18

Skateboarding – California surfers, frustrated when the surf wasn’t up, created the first “modern” skateboards and the sport of skateboarding in the 1950s as a way to pass the time and have fun while waiting for waves. 12

Hula Hoop- The WHAM-O Manufacturing Company of San Gabriel introduced its Hula Hoop in 1958. 12

Foam Surfboards – Developed over a period of several years by a number of Southern Californian surfers, the lighter-weight boards were developed in the 1950s. 12

Barbie – Mattel’s earliest Barbie dolls broke the mold in the doll world. Marketed by the Southern California toy company as the “Teen-Age Fashion Model” at the 1959 Toy Fair in New York City, Barbie was the first American fashion doll. 12

Video Arcade Games – In a Sunnyvale watering hole named Andy Capp’s Cavern, the video arcade-game revolution began with a volley of electronic Ping-Pong in November 1972. 12 

Jacuzzi – The Jacuzzi brothers, immigrants from Italy, patented the first Jacuzzi whirlpool pump in 1954. 12

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Domestic Partner Benefits - Berkeley first adopted its own domestic partner benefits plan in 1985.

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Computer - Stanford University classmates Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded HP in 1939. The company's first product, built in a Palo Alto garage, was an audio oscillator—an electronic test instrument used by sound engineers. One of HP's first customers was Walt Disney Studios, which purchased eight oscillators to develop and test an innovative sound system for the movie Fantasia.14

Mouse - In 1963 Douglas C. Engelbart invented the “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display system” better known as the computer mouse.12

Microprocessor - Between 1969 and 1971, Ted Hoff, Stan Mazor, and Fredrico Faggin of Intel and Mashatoshi Shima of Busicom, a Japanese firm, developed and built the world’s first microprocessor in Santa Clara.12

Personal Computer – In April 1977, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak revolutionized the computer industry with their Apple II personal computer.12

Biotechnology - In 1973, Dr. Herbert Boyer and Dr. Stanley Cohen, two California college professors and biochemists, conducted the first successful experiments in gene splicing, a facet of genetic engineering.  In 1978, Genentech researchers synthesized human insulin using the technique pioneered by Cohen and Boyer making it the first Biotech firm.12

Internet - The ARPANET, grandfather of the Internet, had been born in Los Angeles in 1969.12

Richter Scale - The Richter scale for measuring earthquakes, was formulated by Charles Richter of the California Institute of Technology in 1935, with input from Beno Gutenberg.12

Laser - In 1960, physicist and electrical engineer Theodore Maiman, a Loa Angeles native, invented the first operable laser while employed at the Hughes Research Laboratory in Malibu. 12

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Freeways - In December 1940, the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the nation’s first true freeway opened.12

Motel - The first motel was built in San Luis Obispo, California during the 1920's when the Motor Inn merged the two words, motor and hotel. It is still there today!9

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One out of every eight United States residents lives in California. 1

California holds two of the top ten most populous cities: Los Angeles and San Diego. 1

In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville's first Artichoke Queen. She went on to become actress Marilyn Monroe. 1  

Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the U.S.16

Sally K. Ride, astronaut and first American woman in space.16

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Origin of state's name: Named by Spanish after Califia, a mythical paradise in a Spanish romance, written by Montalvo in 1510. 1

State Animal - The California grizzly bear (Ursus californicus) was designated official State Animal in 1953. Before dying out in California, this largest and most powerful of carnivores thrived in the great valleys and low mountains of the state, probably in greater numbers than anywhere else in the United States. As humans began to populate California, the grizzly stood its ground, refusing to retreat in the face of advancing civilization. It killed livestock and interfered with settlers. Less than 75 years after the discovery of gold, every grizzly bear in California had been tracked down and killed. The last one was killed in Tulare County in August 1922, more than 20 years before the authority to regulate the take of fish and wildlife was delegated to the California Fish and Game Commission by the State Legislature.5

State Bird - The California quail (Lophortyx californica), also known as the valley quail, became the official state bird in 1931. A widely distributed and prized game bird, it is known for its hardiness and adaptability. Plump, gray-colored and smaller than a pigeon, the California quail sports a downward curving black plume on top of its head and black bib with white stripe under the beak. Flocks number from a few to 60 or more in the fall and winter months, but in the spring break into pairs. They nest in hollows scratched in the ground and concealed by foliage, and their eggs, 6 to 28 in number, are creamy white and thickly spotted with golden brown. 5

State Color - The combination of blue and gold as official colors in California were first used as school colors by the University of California, Berkeley in 1875. Blue represented the sky and gold the color of the precious metal found by forty-niners in the state's hills. The Secretary of State began using blue and gold ribbons with the state seal on official documents as early as 1913. Secretary of State Frank M. Jordan suggested making blue and gold the official state colors and in 1951, the State Legislature passed legislation to that effect. 5

State Dance - West Coast Swing Dancing, related to the Swing, Whip, or Jitterbug, came into being in the early 1930's in response to new musical forms then sweeping the land. It was created at the grassroots level and devotees of this art come from every conceivable ethnic, religious, racial, and economic background.   West Coast Swing Dancing is an intricate dance, requiring a great deal of coordination, good timing, and intelligent application. It is an American dance which is danced to American music. It originated in California and is danced in competition nationally and internationally. 5

State Fife and Drum Band - The California Consolidated Drum Band was designated as the official State Fife and Drum Corps in 1997. The music of fife and drum roused and inspired soldiers during significant events in this country's history. 5

State Fish - The golden trout (Salmo agua-bonita) is native only to California and was named the official state fish by act of the State Legislature in 1947. Originally the species was found only in a few streams in the icy headwaters of the Kern River, south of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the United States outside of Alaska. Stocking of wild and hatchery-reared fish has extended its range to many waters at high elevation in the Sierra Nevada from El Dorado and Alpine Counties southward. It has also been planted in other states. 5

State Flag - On June 14, 1846, a small band of settlers marched on the Mexican garrison at Sonoma and took the commandant, Mariano Vallejo, prisoner, They issued a proclamation which declared California to be a Republic independent of Mexico. This uprising became known as the Bear Flag Revolt after the hastily designed flag depicting a grizzly bear and a five pointed star over a red bar and the words "California Republic." The grizzly bear was a symbol of great strength while the lone star made reference to the lone Star of Texas. The flag only flew until July 9, 1846 when it was learned that Mexico and the United States were already at war. Soon after, the Bear Flag was replaced with the American flag. It was adopted as the State Flag by the State Legislature in 1911. 5

State Flower - California Indians cherished the poppy as both a source of food and for oil extracted from the plant. Its botanical name, Eschsholtzia californica, was given by Adelbert Von Chamisso, a naturalist and member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, who dropped anchor in San Francisco in 1816 in a bay surrounded by hills of the golden flowers. Also sometimes known as the flame flower, la amapola, and copa de oro (cup of gold), the poppy grows wild throughout California. It became the state flower in 1903. Every year April 6 is California Poppy Day, and Governor Wilson proclaimed May 13-18, 1996, Poppy Week. 5

State Folk Dance - Square Dancing is the American folk dance which is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers, and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line and heritage dances. The Square Dance has a long and proud history. It is an exciting art form that is truly an original of our country, and has been danced continuously in California since the "Gold Rush Days."   As our state's population has grown, so has the square dance activity. California leads the nation with more than 200,000 residents square dancing weekly. It conforms to our ever changing lifestyles and appeals to people of all ages, races, and creeds. Class distinction is forgotten when people join together to enjoy the true fellowship of the Square Dance. 5

State Fossil - The sabre-tooth cat (Smilodon californicus) was adopted by the Legislature as the official State Fossil in 1973. This tiger-sized cat with 8-inch upper canine teeth was a meat-eater very common in California 40 million years ago. Fossil bones of the sabre-tooth cat have been found in abundance preserved in the tar pits of Rancho La Brea in Los Angeles. 5

State Gemstone - Benitoite was designated as the official State Gemstone in 1985. Sometimes called the " blue diamond", it was first discovered near the headwaters of the San Benito River from which it derived its name. The gem is extremely rare and ranges in color from a light transparent blue to dark, vivid sapphire blue, and occasionally it is found in a violet shade. 5

State Insect - The California dogface butterfly or dog head (Zerene eurydice) was designated the official State Insect in 1972. The butterfly is found only in California from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the Coast Ranges and from Sonoma south to San Diego. The male has a yellow silhouette of a dog's head on its wings. The female is usually entirely yellow with a black spot on the upper wings. 5

State Marine Fish - A golden orange fish approximately 14 inches in length, the garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) is most common in the shallow waters off the Southern California coast. Young garibaldi are even more colorful with bright blue spots on a reddish orange body.   When disturbed these fish emit a thumping sound which can be heard by divers. Although the garibaldi is not an endangered species, there is concern that commercial collection by the saltwater aquarium industry has reduced its numbers. In 1995, the Legislature acted to protect the garibaldi by placing a moratorium on commercial collection until the year 2002. They also named the garibaldi the official State Marine Fish. 5

State Marine Mammal - Measuring 35 to 50 feet in length and around 20 to 40 tons in weight, the California gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is identified by its mottled gray color and low hump in place of a dorsal fin. Gray whale feed mainly on small crustaceans along the ocean bottom in the western Bering Sea where they spend the summer.   From December through February, the whales can be seen traveling southward in small groups along the California coast on their way to the bays and lagoons of Baja California where mating occurs and the females calve. In March and April, they once again travel north following the shoreline. The whales cover approximately 6,000 to 7,000 miles each way. It is believed that memory and vision aid them on their long migration. The California gray whale was designated the State Marine Mammal in 1975. 5

State Mineral - As one might expect, gold is the official state mineral and was so designated in 1965. In the four years following the discovery of gold by James Marshall in January of 1848, California's population swelled from 14,000 to 250,000 people. Miners came from all over the world and extracted 28,280,711 fine ounces of gold from 1850-1859 which would be worth approximately $10,000,000,000 today. Although production is much lower, present day prospectors can still pan for gold in California's streams. 5

State Motto - The Greek word "Eureka" has appeared on the state seal since 1849 and means "I have found it". The words were probably intended to refer to the discovery of gold in California. Archimedes, the famed Greek mathematician, is said to have exclaimed "Eureka!" when, after long study, he discovered a method of determining the purity of gold. In 1957, attempts were made to establish "In God We Trust" as the state motto, but "Eureka" was made the official state motto in 1963. 5

State Nickname - "The Golden State" has long been a popular designation for California and was made the official State Nickname in 1968. It is particularly appropriate since California's modern development can be traced back to the discovery of gold in 1848 and fields of golden poppies can be seen each spring throughout the state. The Golden State Museum is also the name of a new museum slated to open in late 1998 at the California State Archives in Sacramento. The museum's exhibits will bring to life the momentous events of California's history through a series of innovative, interpretive exhibits. 5

State Prehistoric Artifact - Perhaps the most unusual state symbol is the state prehistoric artifact, the chipped stone bear. Discovered at an archaeological dig site in San Diego County in 1985, this small stone object measures about 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches and resembles a walking bear. Fashioned from volcanic rock by one of California's earliest inhabitants some 7-8,000 years ago, the stone artifact is thought to have been made for religious use. The Legislature named the chipped stone bear a state symbol in 1991 making California the first state to designate an official State Prehistoric Artifact. 5

State Reptile - Under a full head of steam, the desert tortoise (gopherus agassizi) moves at a stolid pace of about 20 feet per minute. This patient vegetarian has existed on Earth almost unchanged for millions of years. It is found in the southwestern desert areas of California where it now enjoys protected status as an endangered species. The desert tortoise played a key role in the passage of the California Desert Protection Act in 1994. To protect the fragile desert habitat of the tortoise and other plants and animals, millions of acres were added to the national park and wilderness system. Supporters reportedly brought a desert tortoise to the White House for the bill signing. The tortoise has been the official State Reptile since 1972. 5

State Rock - California has a greater number of minerals and a wider variety of rock types than does any other state. Serpentine, a shiny, green and blue rock found throughout California, was named the official State Rock in 1965. It contains the state's principal deposits of chromite, magnesite, and cinnabar. California was the first state to designate a State Rock. 5

State Seal - The Constitutional Convention of 1849 adopted the Great Seal of the State of California. The seal was designed by Major R. S. Garnett of the United States Army, and proposed by Caleb Lyon, a clerk of the convention. The Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva, has at her feet a grizzly bear and clusters of grapes representing wildlife and agricultural richness. A miner works near the busy Sacramento River, below the Sierra Nevada peaks. The Greek word "Eureka" meaning "I have found it", probably refers to the miner's discovery of gold. Near the upper edge of the seal are 31 stars representing the number of states with California's anticipated admission. Just as Minerva sprung full-grown from the head of Jupiter, California became a state on September 9, 1850, without having to go through a territorial stage. 5

State Soil - The San Joaquin Soil was designated as the official state soil in 1997. The designation commemorates the completion of the state's most comprehensive soil inventory and acknowledges the importance of soil. 5

State Theater - Designed in the Spanish style by Pasadena architect Elmer Grey, the cornerstone for the Pasadena Playhouse was laid in May, 1924. The theater staged its first production in May 1925 and was recognized by the Legislature as the State Theater in 1937. With close ties to Hollywood, many famous actors have graced the Pasadena Playhouse stage including Jean Arthur, Eve Arden, Gene Hackman, Raymond Burr, and Tyrone Power. The theater has produced hundreds of new scripts including many American and world premieres. Today, the 680-seat mainstage theater hosts a year-round season of six plays, giving 306-322 performances annually. 5

State Tree - The California redwood was designated the official State Tree of California by the State Legislature in 1937. Once common throughout the Northern Hemisphere, redwoods are found only on the Pacific Coast. Many groves and stands of the towering trees are preserved in state and national parks and forests. There are actually two species of California redwood: the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the giant sequoia (Sequoia gigantea). The coast redwoods are the tallest trees in the world - one reaching over 360 feet tall grows in the Humboldt Redwoods. One giant sequoia, the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, is 272 feet high and more than 36 feet in diameter and is widely considered to be the world's largest tree overall. 5   Some of the giant redwoods in Sequoia National Park are more than 2,000 years old. 1 

State Song - California's official state song is "I Love You, California", written by F.B. Silverwood, a Los Angeles merchant. The words were subsequently put to music by Alfred Frankenstein, a former conductor for the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. It was the official song of expositions held in San Francisco and San Diego in 1915, and was played aboard the first ship to go through the Panama Canal. In 1951, the State Legislature passed a resolution designating it as California's state song. During the years following, several attempts were made to make other songs such as "California, Here I Come" the official state song. Finally, in 1988, "I Love You, Califomia" became the official state song by law. 5

I Love You, California

I.  I love you, California, you're the greatest state of all.

I love you in the winter, summer, spring and in the fall.

I love your fertile valleys; your dear mountains I adore.

I love your grand old ocean and I love her rugged shore.



Where the snow crowned Golden Sierras

Keep their watch o'er the valleys bloom,

It is there I would be in our land by the sea,

Every breeze bearing rich perfume.

It is here nature gives of her rarest. It is Home Sweet Home to me,

And I know when I die I shall breathe my last sigh

For my sunny California.


II.  I love your red-wood forests - love your fields of yellow grain.

I love your summer breezes and I love your winter rain.

I love you, land of flowers; land of honey, fruit and wine.

I love you, California; you have won this heart of mine.


III.  I love your old gray Missions - love your vineyards stretching far.

I love you, California, with your Golden Gate ajar.

I love your purple sun-sets, love your skies of azure blue.

I love you, California; I just can't help loving you.


IV.  I love you, Catalina, you are very dear to me.

I love you, Tamalpais, and I love Yosemite.

I love you, Land of Sunshine, Half your beauties are untold.

I loved you in my childhood, and I'll love you when I'm old.

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1- http://www.50states.com/californ.htm

2- http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/nytmaps.pl?california

3- http://www.fsa.usda.gov/ca/kidsfacts.htm

4- http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/toddflag.html

5- http://go.hrw.com/hrw.nd/gohrw_rls1/pKeywordResults?SE0%20Fun%20Facts

6- http://www.ci.temecula.ca.us/GISquiz/CA.htm

7- http://www.nass.usda.gov/ca/bul/agcom/indexcav.htm

8- http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/sep/ca/frame.html

9- http://www.stephencarr.com/facts.html

10- http://www.britannica.com

11- http://www.postcardsfrom.com/fun-ca.html

12- California Firsts, Teri Davis Greenberg, Camino Books, Inc., 2002


14- http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/

15- http://sanjose.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2001/06/11/daily58.html

16- http://www.atozkidsstuff.com/california.html

17- http://www.usatoday.com/sports/other/exsports.htm

18- http://expn.go.com/snb/s/snowboard_timeline_60_70.html

19- The top 10 of Everything 2003, Russell Ash, 2002 Korling Kindersley Limited

20- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/features/si50/states/california/greatest/

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This site was last updated 03/01/12