Rhode Island Facts and Trivia
- Rhode Island is the smallest state in
size in the United States. It covers an area of 1,214 square miles. Its
distances North to South are 48 miles and East to West 37 miles.
- Rhode Island was the last of the original thirteen colonies to become a state.
- Rhode Island shares a state water border with New York.
- The Cogswell Tower in Central Falls was the site of an
Indian observation point in use during King Phillips War in 1676. The
tower was built in 1904 as part of the last will and testament of
- Rhode Island never ratified the 18th Amendment prohibition.
- Judge Darius Baker imposed the first jail sentence for speeding in an automobile on August 28, 1904 in Newport.
- Polo was played for the first time in the United States in 1876 near Newport.
- Rhode Island was home to the first National Lawn Tennis Championship in 1899.
- St. Mary’s, Rhode Island’s oldest Roman Catholic parish
was founded in 1828. The church is best known as the site of the wedding
of Jacqueline Bouvier to John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1953.
- The state was home to the first open golf tournament. The event occurred in 1895.
- Rhode Island has no county government. It is divided into 39 municipalities each having its own form of local government.
- The Flying Horse Carousel is the nation’s oldest carousel. It is located in the resort town of Watch Hill.
- The first circus in the United States was in Newport in 1774.
- Ann and Hope was the first discount department store in the United States the property was opened in Rhode Island.
- Rhode Island is home to the Tennis Hall of Fame.
- Rhode Island’s official state name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
- George M. Cohan was born in Providence in 1878. He
wrote, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and a
wide variety of other musical entertainment.
- Rhode Island is known for making silverware and fine jewelry.
- The world’s largest bug is on the roof of New England
Pest Control in Providence. It’s a big blue termite, 58 feet long and
928 times actual termite size.
- At the Point Judith corrosion test site material samples
sit exposed for years and are analyzed to determine the toll taken by
ocean air and the sun.
- Rhode Islanders were the first to take military action
against England by sinking one of her ships in the Narragansett Bay
located between Newport and Providence. The English ship was called “The
- Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, established the
first practical working model of Democracy after he was banished from
Plymouth, Massachusetts because of his “extreme views” concerning
freedom of speech and religion.
- Thomas Jefferson and John Adams publicly acknowledged
Roger Williams, as the originator of the concepts and principles
reflected in The First Amendment. Among those principles were freedom of
religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of public assembly.
- The era know as The Industrial Revolution started in
Rhode Island with the development and construction in 1790 of Samuel
Slater’s water-powered cotton mill in Pawtucket.
- The first British troops sent from England to squash the revolution landed in Newport.
- Though second in command to George Washington, Nathaniel
Greene, a Rhode Islander, is acknowledged by many historians as having
been the most capable and significant General of the Revolutionary
effort. Cornwallis feared Greene and his forces most. Greene ultimately
- Standing 11 feet tall and 278 feet above ground the
Independent Man is a gold-covered, bronze statue placed atop the State
House on December 18, 1899.
- A reproduction of the original Liberty Bell is in the
entrance hall on the south entrance to the State House. It was donated
to the people of the state by the United States Treasury Department in
1950, when Harry S. Truman was president. It is about 3-1/2 feet tall
and the diameter of the bell at its widest part is approximately 3-1/2
feet. It is such a realistic copy that is even has a crack similar to
the original Liberty Bell.
- At Little Compton is home to the gravesite of the first
girl born to colonists in New England. The baby was the daughter of
pilgrims John and Priscilla Alden.
- Warwick enjoys a reputation of being Rhode Island’s Retail Capital.
- Built in 1880 Channing Memorial Church was named for
William Ellery Channing, a leader in the Unitarian Church and the
abolitionist movement. Julia Ward Howe, author of the “Battle Hymn of
the Republic”, attended this church.
- The White Horse Tavern was built in 1673 and is the oldest operating tavern in the United States.
- Rhode Island Red Monument in Adamsville pays homage to the world-famous poultry breed.
- Rhode Island founder Roger Williams established the
First Baptist Church in America in 1638. The existing structure was
built in 1775
- Settled in 1642 Pawtuxet Village in Warwick lays claim to being New England’s oldest village.
- The Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport is the United States’ oldest library building.
- The Crescent Park Carousel in East Providence is the official state symbol of folk art.
- New England’s oldest Masonic Temple in Warren was built
in the 18th century with timbers from British frigates sunk in Newport
Harbor during the Revolutionary War.
- Nine Men’s Misery monument in Cumberland is the oldest
known monument to veterans in the United States. It was erected in
memory of the colonists killed in Pierce’s Fight during King Phillips
War in 1676.
- Portsmouth is home to the oldest schoolhouse in the United States. The school was built in 1716.
- Since 1785 Bristol has the longest running, unbroken series of 4th of July Independence Day observances in the country.
- The Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in North
America. Built in 1763 the synagogue houses the oldest torah in North
- Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge in Foster is the only remaining covered bridge in Rhode Island.
- The first Afro-American regiment to fight for America made a gallant stand against the British in the Battle of Rhode Island.
- The first torpedo boat “Stiletto” was built in Bristol in 1887.
- Pelham Street in Newport was the first street in the country to use gas-illuminated streetlights.
- Cumberlandite is the official state rock. It is dark
brown or black with white markings and found on both sides of
Narragansett Bay but not north of Cumberland.
- The Quonset hut was invented at Quonset Point a key naval reserve base.
- Jerimoth Hill is the state’s highest point at 812 feet above sea level.
Thanks to: David C. Weiler, Luc Beaufort, Jaisley30, Mjc02865