In Which U.S. State Did This Historical Event Take Place?

Beth Hendricks

Image: U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region via WikiMedia

About This Quiz

​In the nearly 250 years since the United States became a country, some pretty remarkable things have happened here. Wars have been waged, immigrants have been welcomed, monuments have been erected and the U.S. people have done some pretty remarkable things. We sent a man to the moon. We eradicated slavery. We empowered women to vote. We legalized gambling, marijuana and same-sex marriage. And that's just the tip of the iceberg ... which is no small feat for what is still a relatively young country in the history of the world!

Each state in the union has contributed to the America we know today through a series of historical events — some good, some bad. The bombing that happened in Hawaii in 1941 had a profound impact on not only the United States, but also the rest of the world. The signing of some pretty important documents in Pennsylvania laid the groundwork for the laws we still follow. A series of events throughout the south sparked – and then halted – a war that separated this country for a period of time.

Conflict, groundbreaking court decisions, natural disasters, successes, failures, inventions, trials, tribulations and economic events have all played their part in making each of our 50 states — and our country — great. But, how much do you know about where these monumental moments went down? Test your geographic history smarts by pinpointing where the historical events in this quiz happened. Tour the U.S. through the lens of history. Let's go!

In which state did the population grow three times almost overnight, thanks to the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s?

"The 49ers" is more than just the name of an NFL team. It actually represents a name given to the nearly 300,000 people who migrated to California during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s (1849, to be exact).

The attack launched on this state's Pearl Harbor was dubbed by then-President Franklin Roosevelt as a day that would live in infamy. Where did it happen?

The attack at Pearl Harbor initiated by the Japanese took the island state (and the nation) by surprise, killing more than 2,400 people. It prompted the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

Which of these states put the U.S. on the map by putting men into space on Apollo 11?

Apollo 11, carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in July 1969. It was an important mission and a statement in the "Space Race" with the USSR.

In which state was U.S. President John F. Kennedy assassinated while riding in a motorcade?

Dallas, Texas, was the unfortunate historical site of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy as he rode in the backseat of a car during a motorcade. He was pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill that took place in this state polluted much of its coastline. Where did this happen?

After an oil tanker crashed in Alaska's Prince William Sound, it created an environmental crisis that polluted much of the state's coastline and killed thousands of wildlife.

The 60-foot-tall faces of some of America's founding fathers were completed at this state's Mount Rushmore in 1941. Where is this landmark?

Mount Rushmore, where the faces of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are carved in stone took roughly 14 years to complete. Today, approximately three million tourists each year travel to the South Dakota landmark.

The development of the Model T in this state paved the way for car ownership for everyone. Where did it happen?

Henry Ford's base of operation in Michigan was where the Model T got its start. With it, Ford offered the hope of car ownership for regular Americans and not just the wealthy. Today, most of us own a vehicle to get us from point A to point B.

The first manned flight happened in this state and lasted a mere 12 seconds. Where was it?

The Wright brothers are to thank for putting North Carolina in the midst of the flight history conversation when they selected Kitty Hawk as the place to attempt the first human-crewed flight.

It wasn't so much a tea party as it was a protest about taxes. Where did this tea party of 1773 happen?

The Boston Tea Party, as it is historically known, was much more of a protest than a party (although party sounds a lot better). Those who participated did so to protest taxation without representation.

In which state was the U.S. birthed with the signing of the Declaration of Independence?

It's fitting that the Declaration of Independence was "penned" and approved in Pennsylvania — Philadelphia, to be exact. Philadelphia is also where the U.S. Constitution was adopted.

Which state was the site of the largest volcanic eruption to ever happen in the United States?

When Mount Saint Helens erupted in 1980 in Washington, its effects could be seen as far away as Spokane (a 250-mile difference). The eruption also caused landslides in the area.

This state was the first to legalize gambling, which makes (dollars and) sense if you think about it. Where is it?

Nevada became the first state, but certainly not the last, to legalize gambling, which is a big part of the state's economy even today. More than 400,000 in Nevada alone are employed in the gaming industry, according to the American Gaming Association.

Hurricane Katrina devastated this state in 2005, causing widespread flooding and the deaths of nearly 2,000 people. Where did it happen?

New Orleans bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina's 127-mile-per-hour winds and torrential rains that caused widespread flooding and billions of dollars in damages throughout the city.

In which of these states was the first atomic bomb detonated at an isolated test site?

The first detonation of an atomic bomb (code name Trinity) left a crater more than a half-mile wide at the test site in the Jornada del Muerto desert when it was tested in 1945. The test came about two weeks before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

In which state would you find Ellis Island, the one-time immigrant processing center for those who came to the United States?

Ellis Island welcomed more than 12 million immigrants to the United States during its period of operation from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. Ellis Island is a literal island in New York Harbor that can be viewed by tourists today.

In which state did Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrender his remaining troops, leading to the end of the U.S. Civil War?

General Robert E. Lee surrendered the last of the Confederate troops to Union leader Ulysses S. Grant near the steps of a courthouse in Virginia in April 1865, marking the end of the U.S. Civil War.

Which state was the site of the students known as the "Little Rock Nine" who attempted to enter a racially-segregated school?

The Little Rock Nine were initially prohibited from entering the school by Arkansas' then-Governor Orval Faubus, who called on the National Guard to keep it from happening. Three weeks later, they were allowed into the school with a military escort.

Which of these states was the only one to be formed due to the Civil War?

Formed in 1863, West Virginia is the only state become so as a result of the Civil War. West Virginia proclaimed its independence from Virginia when loyalties became divided between Union and Confederate ideals.

Fourscore and seven years ago: Which state was the site of the infamous Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln?

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania sits west of Philadelphia and is today a historic landmark for what occurred there in 1863: President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The speech is one of the most famous ever delivered in the United States.

A 54-mile march in this state led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Where did the march occur?

The march, led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., took participants from Selma to Montgomery and was filled with protests and violence. It helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act by Congress a few months later.

The bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in this state was the most deadly terrorist attack in the U.S. until September 2001. Where did this bombing take place?

Dubbed the Oklahoma City bombing, this terrorist attack committed by Timothy McVey took the lives of nearly 170 people. A memorial to those lost sits at the sit of the federal building in that city today.

The opening of Grand Canyon National Park in this state was the start of a tourist attraction that now draws five million people annually. What state is it?

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is famous for its jaw-dropping landscapes and views, attracting millions of visitors annually. In 1919, it officially opened as a national park. It is one of the several natural wonders of the world.

The initial shots at Fort Sumter that marked the start of the Civil War took place in which state?

Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, has a storied place in U.S. history as the site where the Civil War first started. Confederate troops opened fire on Union troops positioned there, starting the bloody four-year battle.

Which of these states made history as the first to officially become part of the United States?

Delaware officially became the United States' first state in December 1787, when it led the way in ratifying the U.S. Constitution. They notate that designation on their license plates, which bear the phrase "The First State."

The National Guard killed four Kent State University students protesting the Vietnam War in 1970. What state did it happen in?

Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, was the site of both a Vietnam War protest and a shooting that killed four and wounded nine. The tragic event prompted the temporary closure of higher education institutions around the country.

The lynching of a 14-year-old boy in this state sparked the civil rights movement. Where did it happen?

The death of Emmett Till at the hands of white residents in Money, Mississippi, sparked outrage and proved fuel for the civil rights movement. Till's mother left her son's casket open at his funeral so that everyone could see what racism had done to her child.

Which of these states was the first to legalize recreational marijuana?

In 2012, Colorado led the nation in the legalization of recreational marijuana for individuals age 21 and older. Washington was neck-and-neck with Colorado in this decision-making, but Coloradans' lawmakers were a bit quicker to make it official.

In which state did women first have the right to vote, 50 years before it was signed into law in the United States?

Wyoming was ahead of the times when it awarded women the right to vote in 1869, five decades ahead of the passing of the 19th amendment nationwide in 1920. The states of Utah and Washington followed suit shortly after Wyoming led the way.

The political caucuses in this state, first created in 1976, are still the forerunner in U.S. presidential elections today. What state hosts these?

Both the Democratic and Republican parties host their caucuses in Iowa at the same time at the outset of U.S. presidential primaries. Experts believe that these caucuses are a good indicator of how a candidate will fare moving forward.

The Transcontinental Railroad that connected East Coast to West was completed in which of these states?

Utah (specifically Ogden, Utah) was the site of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, a transportation system that linked the East and West for the first time. It was completed in May 1869.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in this state. Where did it happen?

It was Memphis, Tennessee, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray as he stood on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in 1968. It was particularly troubling circumstances given that King was in town to lead a peace march.

The beginnings of the U.S. National Anthem we know today started in which state?

Francis Scott Key was inspired to pen the poem that would become the U.S. National Anthem while watching Fort McHenry under attack by British troops. The poem was originally titled, "The Defense of Fort McHenry."

Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, a device to separate the plant's fibers from its seeds, in which state?

Though Eli Whitney was actually from Massachusetts, it was during his brief stay in Georgia that he came up with a machine to separate cotton fibers from the seeds. Many people believe its invention proliferated slavery in the south.

An incident in this state led to the creation of the "Miranda warning," advising suspects of their rights when taken into police custody. Where did it occur?

Named after Ernesto Miranda, the Supreme Court ruled that his first conviction be set aside because he was not properly informed of his rights when being interrogated by the police. The incident and court case took place in Arizona. Miranda was eventually convicted a second time, without the confession.

Which of these states was the first to ratify the U.S. Bill of Rights?

New Jersey's acceptance of the U.S. Bill of Rights, a collection of 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, was the first toward making the amendments law in the United States.

The landmark decision in this state, that came as a result of Brown v. Board of Education, ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. Where did it happen?

Kansas was the site of Brown v. Board of Education, which combined several lawsuits regarding the constitutionality of racial segregation in public schools. The Supreme Court ultimately deemed that segregation was not constitutional.

A site in this state is where the Battle of Tippecanoe, a clash between U.S. troops and Shawnee fighters, happened. Where are we?

The Battle of Tippecanoe pitted Tecumseh and his fighters against William Henry Harrison and his troops in central Indiana. Harrison's men won the battle, and their leader later went on to be elected as a U.S. president.

Which state was the first to legally recognize same-sex marriage?

Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to allow same-sex couples the right to marry. The court determined in 2003 that failing to allow same-sex couples to marry violated their constitutional rights.

This state welcomed the first female mayor of a major U.S. city. in 1926. Which state was it?

Seattle, Washington, was the first major American city to elect a female mayor, Bertha Knight Landes. Landes famously took to an empty stage during her re-election campaign when her opponent, a man, failed to show up and accused him of being "afraid" of a woman.

You have a researcher in this state to thank for the first handheld mobile phone. Where did it happen?

Martin Cooper, an engineer at Motorola, is credited with developing the first mobile phone. He also placed the first call from such a device, opting to phone his competitor at Bell Labs.

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