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Geography Events
Forests & Environment By the Numbers
Agriculture History
Animals People & Culture
Cities & Towns Odd Facts


Strange, Fun & Interesting Facts about California
with photography through the eyes of Pashnit Motorcycle Tours.

California Geography

  • California's Mount Whitney measures as the highest peak in the lower 48 states.
  • The highest and lowest points in the continental United States are within 100 miles (160 km) of one another. Mount Whitney measures 14,495 feet (4,418 m) and Bad Water in Death Valley is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level.
  • Alpine County, south of Lake Tahoe, is the eighth smallest of California's 58 counties. It has no high schools, ATMs, dentists, banks, or traffic lights. It is also the only county in the state that doesn't generate agricultural production.
  • Totaling nearly three million acres, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the entire United States.
  • San Francisco Bay is considered the world's largest landlocked harbor.
  • California is bigger than eighty-five of the smallest nations in the world.
Riders on Santa Rosa Creek Rd
  • California Caverns claims the distinction of being the most extensive system of caves and passageways in the California Foothills region of the state.
  • The area around Geyserville, just north of San Francisco, is the largest geothermal area in the world.
  • Mount Shasta, at 14,162 feet, (4248 m) is the tallest volcano in California and the second highest in America.
  • Portions of Mount Lassen in Northern California still resemble an active volcano with boiling mud pots, hot springs, and steam rising from the side of the mountain. Mount Lassen last erupted less than 100 years ago with a seven mile high plume of ash.

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California Forests & Environment

  • California holds within it the most diverse environment on the planet.
  • In the midst of summer, Point Reyes is the coolest place in the Continental United States.
  • Death Valley is known as the hottest, driest place in the United States where temperatures consistently reach over 120 F (49 C) during summer months.
  • In 1925 a giant sequoia located in California's Kings Canyon National Park was named the nation's national Christmas tree. The tree is over 300 feet (91 m) in height.
  • Inyo National Forest is home to the bristle cone pine, the oldest living tree species. Some of the gnarled trees which only grow at very high elevations are thought to be over 4,600 years old.
  • “General Sherman,” in Sequoia National Park is a 3,500-year-old sequoia tree. Its trunk is 102 feet (32 m) in circumference.
  • The California redwood is a prehistoric tree. All trees are descended from the redwood. The coastal climate along the Pacific Ocean protected them from the great ice sheets that covered much of North America during previous ice ages.
  • The redwood is the official state tree of California. Many of the giant redwoods in Sequoia National Park are more than 2,000 years old.

The Grand Tour to Sequoia National Park

  • The redwood is the world's tallest tree, growing up to 370 feet (113 m) tall.
  • Although the Redwoods can reach heights of nearly 40 stories tall, their root systems are only 10 feet deep. Instead of growing down, the shallow roots of the Redwood tree grow out, and spread sideways up to 250 feet (75 m) from the trunk.
  • Sixty percent of the world's tallest trees can be viewed along the 31 mile Avenue of the Giants.
  • The bark of the Redwood is deeply-furrowed, fibrous, up to about 1 foot (30.5 cm) thick and lacks resin.
  • Much of California's land has been cleared for housing and agriculture. But because of reforestation practices, California forests are nearly as large as 100 years ago.
  • California has nearly 37 million acres of forests in private and public ownerships, more than 1/3 of the state's entire land base.
  • California foresters plant an average of 7 new trees for every one harvested. For the last 25 years, tree growth has exceeded harvest in California forests.

Hell Hole Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

California Agriculture

  • The Central Valley, a flat plain 75 miles (120 km) wide and 430 miles (688 km) long has become the richest farming region in the history of the world.
  • California is the number one dairy state having surpassed Wisconsin in 1993.
  • There are more than 300,000 tons of grapes grown in California annually which in turn produces 17 million gallons of wine each year.
  • The world's largest almond processing plant, doing twelve million pounds per day in high season, is the Blue Diamond in Sacramento.
  • In 1997 enough strawberries were grown in California to circle the earth 15 times.
  • California is the largest producer of goods of all the states and the largest agricultural state in America.
  • Cash receipts from the marketing of California beef reached nearly $1.3 billion in 2002. That made cattle and calves the state's No. 4 crop or commodity in terms of value, behind only milk, grapes and nursery products.
  • California 's 22,000 beef producers care for more than 5 million head of cattle and about 37 million acres of rangeland. Many California cattle ranches have been owned by the same family for four or five generations and most ranches are family-owned and operated.

Mono Lake Tufa Towers

California Animals

  • In Pacific Grove near Monterey, there is a law on the books establishing a $500 fine for molesting butterflies.
  • More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in America.
  • The California Condor found in the Santa Lucia Mountains in Central Coastal California is North America's largest land bird with a wing span of 10 feet.
  • An animal called the riparian brush rabbit calls Caswell Memorial State Park (near Manteca ) its home. Endemic only to the state's park system, the critter lives in approximately 255 acres stretching along the area's once-vast hardwood forest.
  • Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge in Northern California contains the largest winter population of bald eagles in the continental United States.

Julia Pfieffer State Park along California Big Sur

California Cities

  • Pacific Park, on the Santa Monica Pier, re-creates the amusement parks once dotting the ocean areas along the Pacific Coast . Featured are 11 amusement rides including the 1910-vintage hand-carved merry-go-round appearing in the movie "The Sting."
  • In Sacramento , the California State Railroad Museum is the largest museum of its kind in North America .
  • The city of Los Angeles is ranked the fourth largest economy in the United States compared to other states.
  • Los Angeles lays claim to the world's largest outdoor amphitheater, the Hollywood Bowl.
  • Los Angeles has a Museum of Neon Art and a Sci-fi Monster Museum.
  • California holds two of the top ten most populous cities: Los Angeles and San Diego.
  • Bidwell Park in the small town of Chico is the largest municipal park, 3,600 acres,
    west of the Mississippi.
  • Fresno, in Central California, proclaims itself the Raisin Capital of the World.
Drive Thu Tree in Sequoia National Park
  • Castroville is known as the Artichoke Capital of the World.
  • 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.
  • Monterey is ranked the world's number one golf destination by Golf Digest.
  • The Coachella Valley is nicknamed The Date Capital of the World and The Playground of Presidents.
  • Berkeley was the first city in America to mail education pamphlets on AIDS to every household in the city.
  • Marin County, north of San Francisco, is said to have the world's highest concentration of hot tubs and BMW's.
  • More sourdough bread is produced in Oakland than any other city in the world.
  • Mavericks, an area of beach in San Mateo County , is considered one of the three best surfing locations in the world. Winter storms create swells and waves up to 30 feet.
  • San Francisco is home to the Pez Memorabilia Museum and the American Antique Slot Machine Museum.
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay
  • Hollister was also the site of an invasion (1947) by hordes of motorcyclists, which in turn inspired the film The Wild One in (1953), featuring Marlon Brando.
  • In Atwater the Castle Air Museum has the largest display of military aircraft in the state.
  • Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City is California's oldest lighthouse dating to 1856 and is still in operation today.
  • The world's tallest flagpole is found in the small town of Dorris in Northern California.
  • The world's largest collection of Bigfoot artifacts is found in Willow Creek along Highway 299, also known as the Bigfoot Scenic Highway.
  • The entire town of Ferndale has been declared a State Historic Landmark for its original Victorian homes.
  • McKinleyville lays claim to the tallest totem pole in the United States at 160 feet.

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California Events

  • The largest three-day rodeo in the United States is held on the Tehama County Fairgrounds in Red Bluff.
  • One out of every eight music festivals in the United States is held in California.
  • The Monterey Jazz Festival in September is the oldest of its kind in the world.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Park at Coloma, CA

California by the Numbers

  • California is the first state to ever reach a trillion dollar economy in gross state product.
  • California has the largest economy in the United States.
  • If California 's economic size were measured by itself to other countries, it would rank the 7th largest economy in the world.
  • Oroville Dam on the Feather River is the highest landfill embankment in the world.
  • Shasta Lake in Northern California is called the "Houseboat Capital of the World" with more than 400 commercial vehicles for rent.
  • It is estimated there are approximately 500,000 detectable seismic tremors in California annually.
  • Aviation in California contributes nearly 9% of both the total state employment (1.7 million jobs) and total state output ($110.7 billion). California has 71,000 active pilots, and 42,360 airline mechanics. Over 87 million people board a plane in California every year.

Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park

California History

  • The Gold Rush sparked the biggest mass migration in the history of the world.
  • Between 1848 and 1852, four short years, California's population grew from 14,000 to 223,000.
  • The state motto is Eureka !, a Greek word translated "I have found it!" The motto was adopted in 1849 and originates from the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada .
  • The Iron Door Saloon in Groveland claims to be the oldest drinking establishment in the state. It was constructed in 1852.
  • The fastest Pony Express delivery on record, six days from Missouri to Sacramento, delivered the news of Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
  • Knights Ferry Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge west of the MIssissippi and was built in 1863.
  • In the late 1850s, Kennedy Mine, located in Jackson , served as one of the richest gold mines in the world and the deepest mine in North America.
  • Empire Mine, near Grass Valley, is a gold mine operated for over 100 years and has over 367 miles of tunnels extending 2 miles (3.2 km) down. It is said to still contain millions in dollars of gold and is now a historical park.
  • Near Murphys, five million dollars in gold was removed from a four acre placer area during a single winter during the height of the Gold Rush.
  • In 1854 the largest gold nugget ever found was in California at Carson Hill above the Stanislaus River. It weighed 195 pounds (90 kg) and was valued at $43,534 in the currency of the day.

Knights Ferry Covered Bridge

  • In 1973, a 25 pound gold nugget was found by an amateur gold seeker in the Yuba River near Downyville along Highway 49.
  • Two Billion Dollars in gold was removed from 12 counties in California between 1848-1965.
  • More than 80% of the gold in the Mother Lode is still yet to be found.
  • The longest single span covered bridge in America was built in 1862 near Bridgeport and is still there today.
  • During the 1930's newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst had an income of $50,000 per day.
  • Hearst Castle along the Pacific Coast has 165 rooms, 38 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 14 sitting rooms, a kitchen, a movie theater, 2 libraries, a billiard room, a dining hall, an assembly hall, 41 fireplaces, and 127 acres of gardens.
  • The 1,000,000 tiles that cover the pool room at Hearst Castle are all inlayed in real gold making it the most expensive pool room ever built.
  • The plans for the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930's were modified to allow the bridge to be built right over the top of the Civil War era Fort Point.
  • Demonstrations on making toothpaste from orange by-products were popular attractions at the Los Angeles County fair in 1922. The fair is held in Pomona.

Mosquito Lake along Ebbetts Pass - Hwy 4

California People & Culture

  • California is known variously as The Land of Milk and Honey, The El Dorado State, The Golden State, and The Grape State.
  • Prior to the Gold Rush, California had more Native Americans than all the other states combined.
  • Author Jack London , who wrote The Call of the Wild, once ran for mayor of Oakland on the Socialist ticket.
  • The first motion picture theater in the United States opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902.
  • Scotsman David Jacks spent considerable time marketing a popular local cheese, which in turn became known as Monterey Jack Cheese.
  • In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville's first Artichoke Queen. She went on to become actress Marilyn Monroe.
  • The first person to personally receive a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood was actress Joanne Woodward. She received it in 1960.
  • During his engagement at the Fillmore West in San Francisco , Otis Redding stayed on a houseboat in Sausalito. While there he wrote his last song and greatest hit: "The Dock of the Bay."
  • Simi Valley is the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
  • California has the largest population of Native Americans, more than any other state.
  • California has one of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia in the entire world ( San Francisco ).
  • The Los Angeles area has more people of Mexican ancestry than any other urban area in the world, outside of Mexico.
  • California has the largest Armenian population outside Armenia ( Glendale ).

Bodie Ghost Town State Historic Park at 8300 feet

More odd facts about California

  • The Country Store in Baker, CA has sold more winning California State Lottery tickets than any outlet in the state.
  • Reputed to be the most corrupt politician in Fresno County history, Vice-leader Joseph Spinney was mayor for only ten minutes.
  • One out of every eight United States residents lives in California.
  • The largest oil can collection in the world, of 10,000 cans, is found in Santa Rosa, CA.
  • Seventeen-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach is the only private toll road west of the Mississippi River.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has enough steel wires in its cables to circle the earth at the equator 3.5 times.

Sunset along California's Pacific Coast in Carmel

  • The Golden Gate Bridge is so big that workers paint the bridge year round. By the time they are finished with one end it is time to begin repainting the other end.
  • The birth of the Internet was sparked from the campus of UCLA in 1969 when professor Leonard Kleinrock needed a way to communicate between campuses.
  • Cool Californian inventions: Barbie Dolls, blue jeans, the boysenberry, the pill, white zinfandel wine, the square tomato, natural soda, the computer "mouse," the wetsuit, and theme parks.
  • The Petrified Forest near Calistoga has a 3000 year old Redwood tree, that was petrified 3.4 million years ago.

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