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From a 1911 reference book, "Everybody's Cyclopedia", some state nicknames from before the days of public relations campaigns. The ones that aren't used currently are the most interesting. Everything not in parentheses is the Cyclopedia's words, not mine.
"The Cotton State," from its chief production.
"The El Dorado of the North." (I don't know why it's on this list as it wasn't a state at the time.)
No nickname.
"The Bear State" because bears swarmed in its bayous during its early history.
"El Dorado" or "Golden Land"
"The Centennial State," as being admitted into the Union in 1876, the Centennial Year.
"The Nutmeg State," because its people were humorously said to have been so enterprising as to have made nutmegs out of wood, and then palming them off on unsuspecting purchasers.
"The Blue Hen State." During the Revolution the commander of a brigade was a veteran cock-fighter, who always bet on "the blue hen's chickens." Thence, the name came to be applied to the members of his brigade, and finally to the State itself. Also, "The Diamond State," as small and precious.
"The Gulf State;" but oftener "The Flowery State," from its name.
Georgia: "
The Cracker State," from the "crackers" or poor whites who inhabited it before its present prosperity.
"The Gem of the Mountains"
"The Sucker State," so called in derision by the Missourians.
"The Hoosier State," from the word "hoosher," a word applied by the merchants of New Orleans to Indiana boatmen because of their boistrous manners and perpetual bragging. (Creole-French.)
"The Hawkeye State," so named from an Indian chief, Black Hawk, who figured in its early history.
Known as "The Central State," from its geographical position and also because in the history of the Union the Kansas struggle hastened the climax in politics; also "The Prairie State" and "The Sunflower State."
"The Blue Grass State," because of its magnificent pastures.
"The Creole State," because of the large number of Creoles among its population.
Is generically known as "The Down East State," and is also called "The Lumber State," from its extensive forests; or, more poetically, "The Pine Tree State."
Because in Colonial Days it refused to alter its boundaries to please Lord Baltimore and William Penn, it received the nickname of "The Old Line State."

(Gorgonzola says this is flat-out wrong, that "Maryland received its nickname of 'The Old Line State" because of the Maryland militia's holding action at the Battle of Long Island, not because of any boundary dispute." Natrous agrees in The Old Line State writeup. Just goes to show you that reference books don't necessarily have the One Truth.)

Was called "The Old Bay Colony" in very early times. Hence after it became a state, it was styled "The Old Bay State."
"The Lake State," because of its geographical position.
"The Gopher State," as containing so many of these little animals.
"The Bayou State," from the numerous bayous or channels which enter it from the Gulf of Mexico.
"The Bullion State," a name which it received when its most eminent Senator, Thomas H. Benton, himself known as "Old Bullion," contended vigorously for the adoption of gold and silver currency.
"The Mountain State"
"The Black Water State," from its Indian name.
Is variously known as "The Battle State," because it was admitted to the Union during the Civil War; "The Silver State," because of its immense yield of silver at one time; and finally "The Sagebrush State."
New Hampshire:
"The Granite State," from its great mountains of granite, which are supposed to typify the strength and hardiness of its people.
New Jersey:
"The Red Mud State," because of the color of much of its soil. In 1817, its legislature allowed Joseph Bonaparte, the ex-king of Spain and an alien, to hold real estate. This led to a gibe in other States to the effect that New Jersey had left the Union to be under the rule of a king; hence, for a while, it was called "The Dominion."
New Mexico:
"The Adobe State"
New York:
Long known as "The Empire State," because of its commercial supremacy and political importance. It is also known as "The Excelsior State" from the motto on its coat of arms.
North Carolina:
Called "The Old North State" as distinguishing it from South Carolina.
North Dakota:
"The Cyclone State"
"The Buckeye State," because it abounds in horse chestnut trees, locally known as "buckeyes."
"The Boomer State," from its rapid growth and energy.
"The Beaver State," from the early fur trade first carried on by John Jacob Astor.
"The Keystone State," because in early days, when there were only thirteen States, a popular woodcut represented the States in the form of an arch, in which Pennsylvania occupied the position of the keystone.
Rhode Island:
Somewhat fondly called "Little Rhody," because it is the smallest State in the Union.
South Carolina:
"The Palmetto State," becaue its coat of arms bears a palmetto tree.
South Dakota:
"The Blizzard State," because of its terrific storms.
Known first as "The Old Franklin State," because it bore the name of Franklin from 1785 to 1788.
"The Lone Star State," from the single star on its coat of arms.
"The Mormon State," because it was so long controlled by the Mormon church and its leaders.
"The Green Mountain State," from its mountain ranges.
This State has many nicknames. Its first was "Old Virginia," to distinguish it from the New England colonies which were in colonial times often styled "New Virginia." The State documents sent by the King of England to the Governor were headed: "To the Colony and Dominion of Virginia," so that "Old Dominion" became a frequent term for the colony and is still often used. As Virginia was the first of the original States to be settled, it was also styled "The Mother of States;" and later, after it had given seven Presidents to the nation, it was also called "The Mother of Presidents."
No nickname.
West Virginia:
"The Panhandle State," because of its peculiar configuration between the Ohio River and Pennsylvania.
"The Badger State," from the number of badgers which swarmed within its limits before it was inhabited; also "The Wolverine State."

(m_turner says that "the Badger State" comes from the nickname given to miners working underground in badger-like holes (and the miners' gruff temperament) in Wisconsin.)

No nickname.

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