America’s Heartland is certainly filled with beautiful, picturesque landscapes, and out-of-this-world outdoor adventures. Plus, there’s a whirlwind of activities for locals and travelers to enjoy. However, what really makes this exhilarating region unique are the stories. Bursting at the seams with unbelievable truths and wild tales, the history of these states is riddled with new and exciting things to learn. Here are some fun facts about the Midwest. We will have you falling even more in love with this beautiful and wonderful region.
10. A Mammoth Collection
If you thought that the world’s largest concentration of Mammoth Remains was in Hot Springs, South Dakota, you’d be right! One of the country’s few Paleontological Dig Sites, the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs is a spectacular site to behold.
Currently, the dig site is home to 61 different Mammoth remains, with 58 Columbian Mammoths and 3 Wolly Mammoths. This is also the first time these two separate species have been discovered together. Here we have an East meets West species gathering.
Unfortunately, as the bones at this site have not been petrified, they are scorched and brittle. Luckily, the state of South Dakota and the American Alliance of Museums have recognized this discovery’s importance. They have helped turn this dig site into a leader of Quarternary Research.
9. A Deadly Tornado
In March of 1925, a massive tornado ripped through Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois, inevitably resulting in the deadliest tornado in the history of the United States. With 695 recorded deaths and over 2000 reported injuries, this catastrophic event rocked the nation to its core.
Fifteen thousand homes were destroyed across 13 counties. This resulted in a housing crisis just a few short years before the start of the Great Depression. The tornado left 219 miles of destruction in its wake. The amount of damage caused to these three states in just one day is absolutely shocking.
Luckily, we no longer have to wait for local newspapers to publish information about these dangerous weather patterns after the fact. Today, the National Weather Service provides the world’s most effective and sophisticated warning system, ensuring people in the Midwest can get themselves to safety quickly.
8. Eight Miles of Trains
If you consider yourself a railway enthusiast, you’ll be thrilled to learn that the Midwest is home to the world’s largest railway yard. Located in North Platte, Nebraska, the Baily Yard is eight miles long and two miles wide, handling 10,000 railroad cars every 24 hours. Boasting 18 receiving tracks and 16 designated for departure, this incredible railway yard is a serious technological achievement.
If you’d love to see innovation at work up close, then make sure you stop by the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor’s Center, which offers a bird’s eye view of all the excitement from their seventh or eighth-floor viewing platforms. Of course, if you’re really looking for an immersive experience, make sure you stop by during the Rail Day’s Celebration when the yard offers an annual on-site tour.
7. Twists and Turns
How would you like to drive down the world’s crookedest street? If you visit Burlington, Iowa, you can do just that. They originally constructed it in 1894 as a direct pathway between the residential district at the top of the bluff and the commercial district directly below However, the hill’s steep incline made it impossible to build a straight road.
As a result, numerous twists and turns can now be found at this local landmark, which consists of five complete half-curves and two-quarter curves. The 275-foot road actually drops an astounding 58 feet in such a short distance, which has helped this iconic destination be listed as not only one of the most Attractions and Oddities by Roadside America but also considered one of the best fun facts about the Midwest.
6. The Center of it All
If you find yourself in Rugby, North Dakota, you’ll be standing in the traditionally recognized geographical center of the United States. While this exact position has been contested several times over the years, many locals still hold true to this belief, and there is even a stone monument commemorating the fact.
The actual determination of this fact may have been anything but scientifically accurate. As the story goes, an employee of the United States Geological Survey team held a cutout of North America over a pin. When they found a point at which the map stayed level, they determined that this was the official geographical center. While this practice now holds no scientific weight, Rugby locals still consider this town the country’s undeniable central point.
5. The Real Windy City
While Chicago might be well known as the official US Windy City (just ask any trucker), it’s actually Dodge City, Kansas that should hold the title. Located in the heart of Tornado Alley, this region is constantly dealing with gusts bearing down from the Rocky Mountains.
While Chicago has an average wind speed of 10.4 mph, Dodge City often has to deal with winds reaching speeds averaging 15 mph, with some record gusts of up to 79 mph.
4. Standing on a Fault Line
Here’s another fun fact about the Midwest. Did you know that the region actually deals with a tremendous number of earthquakes throughout the year? In 1811, what is now Missouri suffered a series of unbelievably powerful earthquakes. This area is now known as the New Madrid Fault Line. This 150-mile-long division spreads from Cairo, Illinois to Arkansas and deals with over 200 small-scale earthquakes a year. Experts recognize the Fault Line as the most seismically active area in the United States.
3. Nebraska’s Very Own Stonehenge
If you’ve always wanted to see the wonder that is Stonehenge up close but don’t want to fly overseas, you’re in luck. Nebraska has its very own take on this spectacular site, affectionately known as Carhenge. World War II Veteran Jim Reinders originally built this quirky and charming Midwestern icon to memorialize his father.
Travelers from around the world visit the site, seeking an exciting experience unlike anything they’ve ever imagined nowadays. Extremely popular with local photographers, Carhenge is also great for guests looking to snap a few exciting shots to remember their travels.
2. Now That’s Tall
Born in a small city just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Robert Wadlow wasn’t just the tallest person in the Midwest. He is the tallest person in all recorded history. Robert reached an astounding height of 8 feet and 11 inches. Wadlow reached the height of an average adult male by the age of six.
Unfortunately, his incredibly significant stature was a direct result of the hypertrophy of his pituitary gland. This is a serious condition where the body produces an exceptionally large amount of the Human Growth Hormone. It required Wadlow to use leg braces for most of his life, eventually resulting in a faulty brace cutting into his ankle. The cut quickly became infected, and even after a blood transfusion and surgery, Wadlow passed away in his sleep at only 22 years old.
1. A Haunting Around Every Corner
The Palmer House in Sauk Centre is renowned throughout the region. This is especially true for its early introduction to electricity and its impressive paranormal history. Drastically changing temperatures, strange sounds, and unidentifiable voices often leave guests with a strong sense of unease during their stay.
Travelers searching for an epically eerie experience will definitely want to make their way down to the Greenwood Cemetery in Duluth. Tucked between the Chris Jensen Nursing Home and the Arrowhead Prison lies an unassuming field with a tragic and harrowing history. Throughout the green rolling hills lie the remains of 4,705 individuals. These were folks who were, for various reasons, unable to afford an official burial.
Whether you’re traveling through some of the state’s busier cities or wandering through its lush natural landscape, you will encounter a haunted destination around nearly every corner.