Also known as the Ocean State, Rhode Island offers many beaches, incredible seafood, and chic accommodations for locals and tourists alike. It is a hidden gem within the United States, packing recreational activities and history into a tiny package. Here are a few ways this beautiful state is unique and fun to visit.
Fun Facts About Rhode Island
1. Rhode Island is the Smallest State in the United States
The most common fun fact is that it is the smallest state in the entire country. With only 1,214 square miles of landmass, it stretches 37 miles wide and is 48 miles from its northernmost tip to its southernmost. However, it has one of the highest population densities per square mile, with an estimated population of 1,056,183 citizens in 2023.
2. Rhode Island Never Legally Agreed to the Alcohol Prohibition
When the federal government introduced the 18th Amendment to prohibit alcohol, Rhode Island was not a supporter at all. Though other states ratified it in their jurisdictions, this original colony made history as one of the only states to exempt itself. The other state was Connecticut.
That’s not the only amendment it rejected. The state also rejected the 16th Amendment regarding federal income tax, but they still had to abide by the federal government’s ruling.
3. There Is No Official County Government in Rhode Island
Along with exempting themselves from several federal laws, Rhode Island never established a county government. While it has 39 separate municipalities, they all have local governments that dictate their economy and laws. The towns still perform the services of a county government, providing education, land management, and a zoning code environment.
4. Rhode Island Hosted the First Circus
Rhode Island made history when it hosted a circus in Newport in 1774. The first modern circus happened only 6 years prior in London at an equestrian school, serving as the inspiration for the show. The host – Christopher H. Gardner – promised crowds that they would see the same feats at this event, but it was shut down the same year as the Revolutionary War began.
5. Rhode Island’s State Bird is a Red Chicken
The Rhode Island Red results from crossbreeding Italian and Asian birds, primarily raised for its meat and eggs. As the official state bird, the long-term breeding of this bird for its eggs dates back to 1940. It is listed as “watched” by the Livestock Conservancy.
6. Rhode Island Has A Substantial Coastline
Even with the smallest acreage of any state, the main reason tourists continue to visit is the coastline. There are 400 miles of coasts where you can enjoy fishing, swimming, boating, and more, connecting the state to the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline starts at Narragansett Bay.
7. American Minks Are Common in Rhode Island But Rare to See
The American mink lives primarily near water, and the lengthy coastline of Rhode Island ensures that they have plenty. They like both freshwater and saltwater areas. Even though the minks have a steady population in the area, they avoid humans at all costs.
8. True Wolves Haven’t Lived in Rhode Island in Centuries
Most of the reason that you see no wolves in Rhode Island has to do with another reason that the state stands out – its dense population. Even though many economic changes, the local population continues to climb, leaving little room for wolves to have the secluded forest area they need. While a few sightings have come from other states through the years, there’s still no steady wolf population.
9. Rhode Island Showcases the Largest Sock in the World
If you’re a stickler for a good roadside attraction, this East Coast state boasts a few, including the largest sock in the world. Originally debuted at the state’s Convention Center in 2011, the brown and cream sock measures 32 x 22 x 8 feet. Without the work of the Rhode Island Sewing Network, it would have never been possible.
10. Rhode Island Was the First State to Declare Their Independence from Britain
Though there are many times in state history that it was the last to join the United States in an endeavor, seeking independence wasn’t the time. Despite being the last of the original 13 colonies to earn its statehood, it was the first to announce its separation from British rule.
11. The Largest Bug in the World is in Providence
While the largest bug isn’t the most enticing way to advertise a state, have no fear – it isn’t a real bug. Instead, this 58-foot-long termite is a landmark for Big Blue Bug Solutions, a local pest control company. Affectionately called Nibbles Woodaway, drive to Providence to see the 2-ton bug for yourself.
12. Rhode Island Has the Only Source of Cumberlandite in the World
As Rhode Island’s state rock, the only place to find cumberlandite is in Blackstone Valley in Cumberland. The primary concentration is within a four-acre lot. It is incredibly high in iron, making it magnetic. Sometimes, locals mistake pieces of it for meteor debris.
13. Rhode Island Has Held the World Record for the Largest Pumpkin Multiple Times
Along with the records for the largest sock and other incredible records, this state also keeps winning contests for having the largest pumpkins. Though a recent win in California surpassed the last record – a 2,009-pound pumpkin by Ron Wallace – the state’s history indicates that it won’t be long before they steal the crown again.
14. The Fourth-Largest Dome in the World is in Rhode Island
Most people think of massive historical domes worldwide, not the smallest state in the US. However, the State House has a dome that ranks among the Taj Mahal and St. Peter’s Basilica. If you can’t find it overlooking the state’s landscape, look for the 11-foot-tall statue at its peak.
15. One Rhode Island City Has Multiple Haunted Buildings, Including Belcourt Castle
If you want to travel somewhere with haunted houses and other spooky places, the rich history of this original colony is the place to look. If you want to drive to Newport, the Belcourt Castle – a property with so much alleged ghost activity that haunted chairs throw down visitors – awaits you.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock.com
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