15 Fun Facts About Ohio

Ohio started many cultural trends and institutions that lay the foundation of American society and continue today. These 15 interesting facts illustrate how important Ohio’s role has been in the development of this great nation!   

1. The nation’s first ambulance service

Cincinnati, Ohio became home to the first ambulance service in America in 1865. Previously ambulances had only been used during war, but the commercial hospital decided to utilize the idea for the public with on-board medical supplies on board like splints, stomach pumps, morphine, and brandy.

2. The first traffic light

In 1914, the world's first electric traffic light was installed on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. The same year, The Motorist published an article saying it was “destined to revolutionize the handling of traffic in congested city streets and should be seriously considered by traffic committees for general adoption.”

3. The invention of the pop-top can

In 1959, a Kettering resident and engineer named Ermal Fraze invented the pop-top can now used by every beer and soda company in the world. By the time of his death in 1989, his company estimated that about 150 billion cans produced every year used Fraze's design. While he was at a family picnic, Fraze had forgotten to bring a can opener and was forced to use a car bumper to open a can of beer. He was so incensed by this predicament that he stayed up all night developing the idea for the pull tab.

4. The first professional baseball team

The Cincinnati Reds were America's first professional baseball team. They were founded in 1881 by sports editor, O.P. Caylor. They originally wore striped red and white stockings as part of their uniform, earning them the name “The Red Stockings.”

5. The first police cars

Akron, Ohio, was the first city in America to use an official police car in 1899. They paid the Collins Buggy Company $2,400 for a battery-powered “paddy wagon,” with a cage for prisoners in the back. It was the first police vehicle without a horse attached to it and the car's first assignment was to pick up a drunk and disorderly man.

6. The first fire department

Not only did Ohio have the first ambulance service and the first police cars, but they also started the first professional paid fire department in the country. In 1853, Miles Greenwood, co-inventor of the steam engine, served as the first fire chief for the Cincinnati Fire Department, after a fire destroyed much of his business, and he decided to seek better ways of preventing and fighting fires.

7. The first man on the moon

Ohio was the birthplace of many astronauts, but none more famous than the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. Armstrong was from Wapakoneta, Ohio. His love of flying began when his father took him to the Cleveland Air Races, and he took his first flight in Warren, Ohio in 1936. These were the formative experiences that eventually led a man to walk on the moon.

8. Where aviation was born!

The inventors of the original airplane, Orville and Wilbur Wright were born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. They owned and operated a bicycle shop in Dayton, which eventually led to their development of the first flying vehicle together, and their first flight in Kitty Hawk in 1903.

9. The first women’s rights movement

In 1852, feminist revolutionary and Ohio resident, Harriet Beecher Stowe and fellow Ohioan, Lucy Stone founded the Ohio Women's Temperance Society and the Female Moral Reform Society. Through their speeches and writings, they brought to light how women were marginalized and mistreated all over the country while men held ultimate power in government and society.

10. The first paved interstate road in America

The first concrete-paved road still exists today in Bellefontaine, Ohio. The National Road was the first federally planned and funded interstate highway, crossing six states. In a single generation of use since the establishment of the road, the populations of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois grew from 783,635 or over 3.72 million people!

11. The astronaut factory!

Twenty-four astronauts were born in Ohio, the most of any state. The most famous, of course, was Neil Armstrong. But another name you might recognize is former Ohio Senator and first man in orbit, John Glenn. That works out to around 7 percent of all American astronauts who have left the Earth's atmosphere. There's a bit of a tease at Ohio claiming that the state was so bad that some people feel the need to leave the whole planet, but we know that Ohio is a breeding ground for inquisitive minds and ambitions that are literally out-of-this-world.

12. The birthplace of Thomas Edison

Often considered the world's greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, was born in Milan, Ohio. He created the incandescent lightbulb, quadruplex telegraph, the carbon microphone, one of the earliest motion picture cameras, the phonograph, and that's just getting started! Some say he also developed a machine that could speak to the dead and was famously quoted saying, “I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

13. The first electrically-lit city

In 1879, Cleveland became the first electrically-lit city. Street lamps had previously been fueled by oil, and by the time the Cleveland Gas Light & Coke Co. was organized in 1846, many publications claimed that oil lamps were on their last legs. The Cleveland Telegraph Company constructed 12 lamps with 2,000 candlepower, and began installing them on Cleveland street corners. Within a few short years, the whole country had taken hold of the idea.

14. America's first hot dog

Harry M. Stevens was originally from Derby, England, but emigrated to Niles, Ohio in the 1880s. He quickly became obsessed with baseball and even invented the sport's first scorecard, a design still used to this day! He secured contracts to supply concessions at several major-league ballparks across the U.S and is credited as the creator of the hot dog in 1900, originally calling them “Red Hot Dachshund Sausages.”

15. Seven U.S. presidents were born in Ohio

Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William H. Taft, and Warren G. Harding. William Henry Harrison also adopted Ohio as his home state when he became a U.S. representative and senator, and lived there until he won the presidency in 1840 (although he tragically died a month after his inauguration). 

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