“When is he going to hit us with another quiz? It’s been a while.” That may be the sentiment out there in my readership.

So, not to disappoint, here we go with an autumn 2019 quiz about our wonderful land, based mostly on geography with a little history thrown in.

If we say we love America, we ought to be able to tick off some of our more salient facts and realities. Let’s start by filling in the missing blanks on Woody Guthrie’s famous song:

1. “This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the ... from the … forests to the ...waters, this land was made for you and me.”

My brother Dan had a fascination with state capitals, and visited (or at least so he said) all 50 of them before his death at the young age of 70 in January 2016.

I love them, too, but have visited, by my latest count, only 18.

2. Name the states in New England and their capital cities.

I’ve asked this question in a previous quiz, but it’s worth another go.

3. What is the longest river in the continental United States?

4. Who is honored by a statue in front of the West Virginia Capitol, facing the Kanawha River, as “the founder of West Virginia”?

5. How many counties are there in West Virginia?

6. Our country was expanded mammothly by two controversial land purchases. What were they, and what were they called?

7. What state is the birthplace of the most presidents? If you want to go “above and beyond,” name those presidents (extra credit!).

8. What areas have been proposed to become the 51st state? See if you can name at least two of them.

9. What state lies entirely within the boundaries of Appalachia? (So sorry for tossing in a “piece-of-cake” question).

10. What is currently considered the busiest airport in the U.S.? If you like, also name the next two busiest.

11. Which American state has the largest population? And which has the smallest?

12. Name all five Great Lakes.

13. What is the name of the highest mountain peak in the U.S., and in what state is it located?

14. Speaking of mountains, what state has the highest percentage of its land mass in mountains?

15. Name the composer of our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

16. Who famously said, “Give me liberty, or give me death?” And what state did he hail from?

17. Name at least five coal-producing states.

18. Name the other cities or towns in America that are called “Huntington” or have “Huntington” as part of their name.

19. What do the following celebrities have in common: African-American scholar and author Henry Louis Gates Jr., NBA star Jerry West, New York Mets pitcher Rick Reed?

20. Five states border West Virginia. Name them all. (A feel-good question to wind up this quiz, because I know some of these questions were tough.)

Passing score: 15 out of 20 correct.


1. …to the New York island… the redwood forest ..the Gulf Stream waters

2. Augusta, Maine; Concord, N.H.; Montpelier, Vt.; Boston, Mass.; Providence, R.I.; Hartford, Conn.

3. The Missouri River.

4. Abraham Lincoln.

5. Fifty-five.

6. The Louisiana Purchase (1803, from France, 828,000 sq. miles). “Seward’s Folly,” purchase of Alaska in 1867, from Russia; also known as “Seward’s Icebox.”

7. Virginia. Eight Presidents born there: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

8. Among others, New York City, District of Columbia and a proposal to divide California into two states: Northern California and Southern California.

9. West Virginia

10. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson. Second, third and fourth are Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth and JFK in New York City.

11. California (39.5 million); Wyoming (592,701).

12. Great Lakes: Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, Superior.

13. Denali in Alaska (also known as Mt. McKinley), 19,685 feet.

14. West Virginia.

15. Francis Scott Key

16. Patrick Henry of Virginia

17. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Montana are leaders; 18 other states also produce some coal.

18. Among others, New York, Indiana and California.

19. All are or were natives of West Virginia.

20. Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky.

John Patrick Grace hated pop quizzes when he was an undergraduate history major at Loyola U. (Chicago). He now gets revenge by inflicting them on H-D readers.

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