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Kentucky State Symbols

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Welcome to the Bluegrass State? Kentucky has plenty of state symbols to ponder. However, the ones that really get my attention are the chief nickname, motto, horse, and mineral. (Continued below)

Kentucky State Flag
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames The Bluegrass State, Hemp State, Tobacco State, Dark and Bloody Ground
Symbols of State
Motto United we stand, divided we fall 1942
Latin Motto Deo gratiam habeamus 2002
Song My Old Kentucky Home 1986
EcoSymbols
Flower goldenrod (Solidago) 1926
Tree tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) 1994
(former) Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) 1976
(former) tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) 1956
Fruit blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) 2004
Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1926
Wild Animal Game Species gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) 1968
Horse Thoroughbred (Equus caballus) 1996
Fish Kentucky spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus) 1956
Agricultural Insect honeybee (Apis mellifera) Redundant Symbol 2010
Butterfly viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) 1990
Gemstone freshwater pearl (Unionoida) 1986
Mineral coal 1998
Rock Kentucky agate 2000
Fossil † brachiopod (Brachiopoda) 1986
Soil Crider Soil Series 1990
Cultural Symbols
Original Kentucky Soft Drink Ale-8-One 2013
Drink milk Redundant Symbol 2005
Bourbon Festival Event The Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Incorporated, of Bardstown, Kentucky 2000
Silverware Pattern Old Kentucky Blue Grass, the Georgetown Pattern 1996
State Tug-o-War Championship Event The Fordsville (Ohio County) Tug-of-War Championship 1990
Official Steam Locomotive of Kentucky Old 152 2000
Sports Car Corvette 2010
Official Covered Bridge of Kentucky Switzer Covered Bridge (Franklin County) 1998
Covered Bridge Capital of Kentucky Capital Fleming County 1998
Arboretum Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest 1994
State Botanical Garden University of Kentucky Arboretum 2000
Center for Celebration of African American Heritage Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville 2002
State Science Center Louisville Science Center 2002
Dance clogging 2006
Bluegrass Song Blue Moon of Kentucky 1988
Birthplace of Newgrass Music Bowling Green 2010
Father of Newgrass Music Sam Bush 2010
Musical Instrument Appalachian dulcimer 2001
Theater Pipe Organ Wurlitzer Pipe Organ 2005
Kentucky Commonwealth Theatre Devou Park Summer Classics Theatre of Covington 1992
Amphitheater Iroquois Amphitheater 2001
Outdoor Musical The Stephen Foster Story 2002
Pipe Band Louisville Pipe Band 2000
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival “Shakespeare in Central Park” of Louisville 1984
Language English Redundant Symbol 1984
Pledge of Allegiance to State Flag Pledge of Allegiance to the Commonwealth of Kentucky 2000
Military School Millersburg Military Institute 2004

The most familiar nickname is Bluegrass State, though the state’s official symbols also celebrate Newgrass. “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” is one of my favorite state mottoes.

Black is the color of the state horse and mineral, the Thoroughbred and coal. Unfortunately, an unbridled passion for mining coal has taken a steep toll on the environment.

However, Kentucky’s worst symbol is probably its official military school. Where are we, Sparta? I’ll take bluegrass over the U.S. military any day.

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If you think state flags and flowers are nothing more than trivia, guess again. A thorough exploration of the more than 1,500 items adopted as state symbols embraces geography, history, and psychology.

You have found the best state symbols website, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The introduction above is adapted from Geobop’s State Symbols and My State Symbols Book, by far the biggest and most detailed state symbols references ever. You can learn still more about the symbols of the 50 states in the books Flag Quest and Grading the States. (Learn more about them here.)

After you spend some time exploring your favorite state’s symbols, you can come back here and tell us what you think about them.

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