State Nicknames and their Explanation

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New Mexico
The words “Land of Enchantment” adorns automobile license plates and is used frequently in state publications to promote tourism.
source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols by Benjamin F. Shearer, Barbara S. Shearer

New York
New York acquired its nickname “Empire State” to recognize its vast wealth and variety of resources.
source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols by Benjamin F. Shearer, Barbara S. Shearer

North Carolina
In 1629, King Charles I of England "erected into a province," all the land from Albemarle Sound on the north to the St. John's River on the south, which he directed should be called Carolina. The word Carolina is from the word Carolus, the Latin form of Charles.

When Carolina was divided in 1710, the southern part was called South Carolina and the northern, or older settlement, North Carolina. From this came the nickname the “Old North State.” Historians have recorded that the principle products during the early history of North Carolina were "tar, pitch, and turpentine." It was during one of the fiercest battles of the War Between the States, so the story goes, that the column supporting the North Carolina troops was driven from the field. After the battle the North Carolinians, who had successfully fought it out alone, were greeted from the passing derelict regiment with the question: "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" Quick as a flash came the answer: "No, not a bit, old Jeff's bought it all up." "Is that so; what is he going to do with it?" was asked. "He's going to put on you-un's heels to make you stick better in the next fight." Creecy relates that General Lee, upon hearing of the incident, said: "God bless the “Tar Heel” boys," and from that they took the name.

(Adapted from Grandfather Tales of North Carolina by R.B. Creecy and Histories of North Carolina Regiments, Vol. III, by Walter Clark).
source: http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/nc/symbols/symbols.htm

North Dakota
The International Peace Garden straddles the international Boundary between North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba. In 1956 the North Dakota Motor Vehicle Department, on its own initiative, placed the words “Peace Garden State” on license plates; the name proved so popular that it was formally adopted by the 1957 legislature (North Dakota Century Code (NDCC), Section 39-04-12).

“Flickertail State” refers to the Richardson ground squirrels which are abundant in North Dakota. The animal flicks or jerks its tail in a characteristic manner while running or just before entering its burrow. In 1953 the Legislative Assembly defeated Senate Bill (S.B.) No. 134 that would have adopted the Flickertail facsimile as the official emblem of the state.

“Roughrider State” - This name originated in a state-supported tourism promotion of the 1960s and 70s. It refers to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry which Theodore Roosevelt organized to fight in the Spanish-American War. In fact, the "Roughriders," which included several North Dakota cowboys, fought dismounted in Cuba due to logistical problems. In both 1971 (House Bill No. {H.B. No.} 1383) and 1973 (G.B. No. 1443) the Legislative Assembly defeated bills intended to change the words Peace Garden State on state license plates to Roughrider Country.
source: http://www.state.nd.us/demographics.html

Ohio
Ohio, the “Buckeye State”, received its nickname because of the many buckeye trees that once covered its hills and plains.
But that's only partly the reason. We have to go back to the feverish presidential campaign of 1840 for the rest of it.
William Henry Harrison, a Virginia-born Ohioan and military hero, was a candidate for the White House, but his opponents commented that he was better suited to sit in a log cabin and drink hard cider.
Some of Harrison's leading supporters, who were experts in promotional know-how, decided to turn into a positive reference what was supposed to be a negative one.
They dubbed him "the log cabin candidate," and chose as his campaign emblem a log cabin made of buckeye timbers, with a long string of buckeyes decorating its walls. Furthermore, in parades, his backers walked with buckeye canes and rolled whisky barrels.
The campaign gimmicks were successful. "Old Tippecanoe," as Harrison was often called, beat President Martin Van Buren in the latter's bid for re-election, and thereafter the buckeye was closely associated with the state of Ohio.
The name itself is of native origin. Because the markings on the nut resembled the eye of a buck, the Indians called it "hetuck" or "buckeye."
© 1997 Dan Chabek
source: http://www.lkwdpl.org/buckeye/index.html

Oklahoma
In 1889, the Indian Territory was opened to settlers. Thousands of people lined up on the border and, when the signal was given, they raced into the territory to claim their land. Some people went in early to claim their land. They became known as Sooners.
Hence, Oklahoma's nickname today is “The Sooner State”.
source: http://www.salinaok.com/oklahoma.html

Oregon
The American Beaver (Castor canadensis) was named Oregon state animal by the 1969 Legislature. Prized for its fur, the beaver was overtrapped by early settlers and eliminated from much of its original range. Through proper management and partial protection, the beaver has been reestablished in watercourses throughout the state and remains an important economic asset. The beaver has been referred to as "nature's engineer," and its dam-building activities are important to natural water flow and erosion control. Oregon is known as the “Beaver State” and Oregon State University's athletic teams are called the "Beavers."
source: http://www.sos.state.or.us/BlueBook/1999_2000/facts/almanac/almanac01.htm

Pennsylvania
The word "keystone" comes from architecture and refers to the central, wedge-shaped stone in an arch, which holds all the other stones in place. The application of the term “Keystone State” to Pennsylvania cannot be traced to any single source. It was commonly accepted soon after 1800.

At a Jefferson Republican victory rally in October 1802, Pennsylvania was toasted as "the keystone in the federal union," and in the newspaper Aurora the following year the state was referred to as "the keystone in the democratic arch." The modern persistence of this designation is justified in view of the key position of Pennsylvania in the economic, social, and political development of the United States.
source: http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/

Rhode Island
The “Ocean State” is a nickname used to promote tourism. The nickname “Plantation State” is derived from the states official full name "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations".
source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols by Benjamin F. Shearer, Barbara S. Shearer

South Carolina
“Palmetto State” refers to the South Carolina official state tree, the Sabal Palmetto
source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols by Benjamin F. Shearer, Barbara S. Shearer

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