The Coast News Group
Hit the Road

How well do you know your home state?

I’ve traveled a lot of California and feel as though I know a fair amount about the state’s unique and diverse history, peoples and natural wonders. But someone recently handed me a copy of “California Trivia,” compiled by Lucy Poshek & Roger Naylor, and I discovered all kinds of facts that are new to me.

The book is not new — my copy was published in 1998 — but most of the facts still hold. For instance:

Did you know that Walt Disney founded the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia?

Who remembers that Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel (both ways), was a native San Diegan?

And did you know that Father Junipero Serra referred to himself as the Gray Ox? (The book didn’t say why. I searched but came up empty-handed. Do you know the answer?)

Here are a few more California-related trivia questions from the book. Try these out on someone who thinks he/she knows everything about the Golden State, which by the way, made the official State Nickname List in 1968. Answers at the bottom.

In terms of attendance, what is the most popular state park in California?

What two large California lakes extend into other states?

In what state is there a town named California?

California’s highest point (Mount Whitney, 14.495 feet) and lowest point (Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level) are how far apart?

By 1920, most Los Angeles residents lived within what distance of a trolley line?

What is the oldest California building still in use?

Who built his own railroad rather than pay the rising rates of the Southern Pacific?

What San Diego athlete was drafted by two teams in the same city on the same day?

Where was the first Super Bowl played?

What desert ghost town, restored by Walter Knott, features 30 miles of tunnels?

The Mount Shasta Ski bowl was the site of what U.S. meteorological record and when?

How fast do migrating gray whales swim?

Where and when was the Internet first conceived?

Most states have one climatic zone. How many does California have?

How many lakes are there in California?

What town holds the nation’s record for the longest period without rain?

How many plants are native to California?

Who changed from an unsuccessful career of gold mining to candy making during the Gold Rush?

Who were California’s first winemakers?

Why were Union Army troops stationed on Catalina Island during the Civil War?


Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Lake Tahoe (shared with Nevada) and Goose Lake (shared with Oregon).


Less than 100 miles.

Four blocks.

The chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

John D. “Smokestack” Spreckels built the San Diego and Arizona Railroad in 1919.

Tony Gwynn, in 1981. by the Padres baseball team and the San Diego Clippers basketball team.

Los Angeles Coliseum in 1967. Green Bay Packers beat Kansas City 35-10.

Calico, north of Barstow.

The most snow in a single storm – 189 inches – fell Feb. 13-19, 1959.

About 27 miles per hour.

At UCLA, about 1970.


About 8,000.

Bagdad, in the Mojave Desert (767 days).

More than 5,000.

Domingo Ghirardelli.

The Spanish missionaries (padres).

To prevent Southern sympathizers from using the island as a base for pirate activities against the North.

E’Louise Ondash is a freelance writer living in North County. Tell her about your travels at [email protected]