Pennsylvania is famous for its “firsts” (like the first US Capitol: Philadelphia), inventions (everything Benjamin Franklin did), and winning spirit. We rarely do anything “average,” but being Number One is not always an honor.
We went looking for all of the things Pennsylvania tops the list for. For the most part we’re awesome, and when we aren’t Number One, you better believe we are Top Three. Unfortunately, some of these lists are ones we would rather not be on…
We came across “bests” and “worsts,” “firsts” and “lasts,” “mosts” and “leasts,” and built this list to include a little bit of each, because we want to try to be Number One in honesty.
1. We have the Number One "Most Historic Square Mile in America"
At Independence National Historic Park, you can see Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall and many other historic treasures.
2. We are Number One in Mushroom Production
Kennett Square is the "Mushroom Capital" of the world! Chester County has 60 mushroom growers, but Creekside (north of Pittsburgh) is the largest mushroom growing facility, producing 60 million pounds of mushrooms each year!
3. We have the Number One Longest Stone Arch Railroad Bridge In World.
Rockville Bridge, Harrisburg was built in 1902 and spans 3,820 feet.
4. Actually, we are Number One in Bridges in general.
With 1,700 bridges in Allegheny County’s 731 square miles, that equates to 2.3 bridges per square mile, or one for each mile of freeway. There are 446 bridges within Pittsburgh city limits, which puts the city in contention for the title of “most bridges in the world”…but there is some controversy over how to define a bridge and what qualifies it as "in a city" vs. "in a city area." Either way, Pittsburgh's nickname, the “City of Bridges,” is well deserved.
5. We're pretty serious about our bridges; we have the Number One most covered bridges in the country...as well as the Number One oldest covered bridge!
There are 213 covered bridges in Pennsylvania. The oldest covered bridge was the 550' Permanent Bridge spanning the Schuylkill River, constructed by Timothy Palmer in 1805.
6. We are Number One in pretzel consumption
The average Pennsylvanian consumes 12 TIMES as many pretzels as does the average US citizen each year!
7. Really, we are just Number One in "Snacks"
Pennsylvania produces 80% of America's pretzels, is the top potato chip producer in the country, and we invented the banana split! Pennsylvania is also home to the Bimbo Bakeries headquarters, which owns six of the top 12 fresh baked bread brands in the US. And let's not forget Hershey's Chocolates, the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America.
8. We are home to the Number One / First oil well in the US.
Drake Well was drilled in 1859 along the banks of Oil Creek in Cherrytree Township. Pennsylvania was also home to the first fuel station. We bet most people don't make the connection of "Pennz-oil" brand oil.
9. We have the Number One AND Number Two largest Amish Communities
Ohio may have the highest number of Amish residents overall, but Lancaster County is the largest Amish community in the US!
10. We are Number One at...having too many fingers?
Speaking of Lancaster County... Ellis-van Creveld syndrome - a genetic condition producing a sixth finger to grow on one's hands - is extraordinarily rare...except in Lancaster County. The region has the highest concentration of people with this condition (also called polydactyl); more than anywhere else in the world. Scientists attribute it to the lack of genetic diversity within the Old Order Amish community.
11. We had the Number One Worst Nuclear accident in U.S. history
One of Three Mile Island's reactors melted down in 1979...but it took until 1993 for it to be officially declared "cleaned up." The meltdown and cleanup cost roughly $1 billion.
12. We are Number One on the list for most coal mining deaths.
According to official records kept since 1839, there have been 13,793 total coal mining related deaths in the nation; 3,278 of them in Pennsylvania.
13. We have the Number One largest landscaped city park In the US
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
14. We are home to the Number One most famous Civil War Battle
The Battle of Gettysburg marked a turning point in the Union campaign.
15. We are home to the Number One largest Furry convention
Anthrocon, which occurs annually, is the largest of its kind in the US.
16. We are Number One on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of the most anti-government hate groups in the US
Pennsylvania saw a huge leap in anti-government hate groups last year; In 2014, there were 18 identified hate groups but, by the end of 2015, the number had risen to 60.
17. We are the Number One in holiday music downloads
18. We are Number One on the list of Arson deaths
According to the DEA statistics, the Pennsylvania average is 55.56 deaths for every 1,000 residents annually.
19. We are the Number One meanest sports fans
We're tired of hearing about this one, but it's impossible to leave off the list because three of the top ten meanest team fans come from Pennsylvania: The Eagles and Phillies' fans are tied for the Number One spot, and Penn State Football fans rank 7th. No other state had multiple teams on this list. C'mon guys, it's time to show some more sportsmanship.
20. We USED to have the Number One most miles of railroad track...and now we have the Number One most successful Rails-To-Trails developments!
As railways are used less and less commonly to transport goods, the Rails-to-Trails group has begun projects to turn hundreds of miles of unused train tracks into walking and hiking paths. So far, Pennsylvania leads the way in this project, with 170 projects completed, and more in-progress projects than any other state.
21. We have the Number One best high school district in the nation
Tredyffrin-Easttown School District was ranked 1st out of 10,488 school districts in the nation! And hats off to Allegheny School District as well; they ranked 7th overall, giving Pennsylvania TWO of the Top Ten school districts in America!
So there you have it; a list of all the things Pennsylvania is Number One at, for better or worse. Perhaps by raising attention to some of our Number One problems, we can get ourselves off of them before any new lists come out!
What “Number One” thing in Pennsylvania are you the most proud of? Are there any “Number Ones” we left off of this list? Tell us about it in the comments!