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December 22, 2015

The worst Final Jeopardy! category:
STATE CAPITALS

To me, there’s no scarier Final Jeopardy! category than STATE CAPITALS.

Sure, maybe you memorized them all in third grade, and can list them alphabetically. But more often than any other category, I’m pretty sure, it’s some stupid wordplay clue that has little to do with geography.

Here are a few examples plucked from the J! Archive:

IT’S THE ONLY 3-WORD STATE CAPITAL
1 OF 2 LETTERS THAT BEGINS THE NAMES OF 6 STATE CAPITALS, MORE THAN ANY OTHER
IT’S THE ONLY STATE CAPITAL WHOSE NAME HAS 3 SETS OF DOUBLE LETTERS

Where do you begin with clues like these? Do you start in the northwest with Olympia, work counterclockwise down the Pacific coast, then back up the Rockies? Before you know it, 30 seconds is up – and you haven’t even gotten close to the small states on the eastern seaboard.

It’s far better to know some of this arcane trivia off the top of your head. In that vein, I present some basic facts about the capitals – particularly their names. Many of these facts have been asked on Jeopardy! before, and I have little doubt they will be again.

I also suggest you check out the list of etymologies compiled by Blogspot user Anthony1956 (in two parts: 1 and 2). Be sure to look at the rest of his site, too, as he has a lot of cool info on the names of various countries and other place around the world.

I’ve written this with the correct responses in spoiler tags, so you can test your knowledge before looking at the (pointless but potentially lucrative) answers.

Finally, I intend for this to be a ‘living’ list, so if there’s something you think is important that I haven’t added, please let me know and I’ll do so.

Letters and word lengths

Two words, derived from French (2):

Correct response: Show

Two words (8):

Correct response: Show

Three words (1):

Correct response: Show

Five letters (3):

Correct response: Show

One word, twelve letters (1):

Correct response: Show

Contains double letters (8):

Correct response: Show

Contains the letter ‘u’ twice (4):

Correct response: Show

Has no letters in common with its state’s name (1)

Correct response: Show

Notable beginnings

Starts with the same letter as its state (4):

Correct response: Show

Starts with ‘C’ (6):

Correct response: Show

Starts with ‘S’ (6):

Correct response: Show

Starts with ‘S-A’ (5):

Correct response: Show

Starts with three consonants (1):

Correct response: Show

Starts and ends with same letter (2):

Correct response: Show

Eponyms

Named for a signer of the Constitution (1):

Correct response: Show

Named for a U.S. president (4):

Correct response: Show

Named for a U.S. vice president (1):

Correct response: Show

Named for the last Stuart monarch:

Correct response: Show

Named for the future King James I, then a duke:

Correct response: Show

Originally ‘The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi’ in Spanish:

Correct response: Show

Geographic extremes

Highest in elevation (7,199 feet):

Correct response: Show

Lowest in elevation (18 feet):

Correct response: Show

Largest population, city limits:

Correct response: Show

Largest population, metropolitan area:

Correct response: Show

Smallest population:

Correct response: Show

Largest by land area (2,718 sq mi):

Correct response: Show

Smallest by land area (6.7 sq mi):

Correct response: Show

Farthest north/south/east/west in lower 48:

Correct response: Show

Shared borders

Borders the Missouri River (3):

Correct response: Show

Borders the Mississippi River (2):

Correct response: Show

Borders a Canadian province (1):

Correct response: Show

Borders another state (2):

Correct response: Show

Borders salt water (6, maybe 7):

Correct response: Show

Historical

Earliest named a capital (1610):

Correct response: Show

Most recently named a capital (1910):

Correct response: Show

Longest continually serving state capital (1781):

Correct response: Show

Confederate capitals not captured by Union forces (2):

Correct response: Show

statecapitalscover

6 Comments
  1. Which body of Salt Water does Baton Rouge border? The Mississippi is gross at that point, but I wouldn’t call it salty.

    • Had that one in there on a pointless technicality: there’s been significant salt-water intrusion underground, but not above-ground. I’ve removed it. Thanks for catching it!

  2. Always a favorite question: which two state capitals are named after men who were executed?

What do you think?