Finding Superlative Places

May 7, 2007
Can you describe the highest, lowest, largest, broadest, etc. places in the United States?

Stamp of Windiest Place in USThe idea for this post began several years ago when I bought my latest set of forty brightly colored postage stamps — which also happened to be right before I learned that the cost of stamps was going up.

While I don’t send as many letters as I used to now that e-mail is so much a part of my life, I enjoy giving and receiving beautiful and informative stamps. And when the stamps come in a set, I wish the recipient could see all of them because frequently the whole page looks so terrific as a group.

This is certainly true for this set of stamps called “Wonders of America: Land of Superlatives.” The back of the stamp sheet says: “The United States is a land of superlatives, rich in natural and man-made wonders. Forty of the most remarkable places, structures, plants, and animals in America appear on this stamp pane.” Here are the categories:

Deepest Lake Longest Cave
Fastest Bird Longest Covered Bridge
Fastest Land Animal Longest Hiking Trail
Highest Sea Cliffs Longest Mountain Chain
Hottest Spot Longest Reef
Largest Canyon Longest River System
Largest Cliff Dwelling Longest Span
Largest Delta Loudest Animal
Largest Desert Most Active Volcano
Largest Estuary Rainiest Spot
Largest Flower Oldest Trees
Largest Freshwater Fish Oldest Mountains
Largest Frog Tallest Cactus
Largest Glacier Tallest Dam
Largest Land Mammal Tallest Dunes
Largest Lake Tallest Geyser
Largest Natural Bridge Tallest Man-made Monument
Largest Plant Tallest Trees
Largest Reptile Tallest Waterfall
Largest Rodent Windiest Place

Almost everyone is interested in knowing superlatives for a multitude of places, things, and people. We want to know what is considered the longest, tallest, shortest, fattest, thinnest, deepest, widest, oldest, smartest, darkest, brightest, quickest, heaviest, and lightest, as well as an almost any other adjective you can think of. We eagerly devour lists of the “most” famous or talented movie stars, authors, athletes, or any other group of people in whom we’re interested.

I don’t claim the questions below are the “most” interesting you could ask on the topic of superlatives. I leave that to your discretion. I merely offer these to encourage you to be curious about some of the many things, places and people in this wide world, and to see what adjectives you could apply to groups of them.

EXPANDING YOUR HORIZONS

How many in the list above can you identify correctly?*

If you were to include the whole world, rather than just the United States, what do you think are the correct answers for the list above?

If you don’t live in the United States, what would your answers be for your own country?

If you were to create a list of many more categories of places and things, as well as people, what would be on your list?

What adjectives would determine the “best” of such places, things, and people?

*The answers to the categories above can be found on the July 29, 2011 post called Have You Been to These “Superlative” Places?

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