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55 Fun Facts about Rhode Island 

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Do you want to get to know more about the smallest state in the US? Well, these fun facts about Rhode Island are enough to explore its small-town charm and history!

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Fun Facts About Rhode Island

Located in the northeastern part of the US, Rhode Island is one of the original thirteen colonies. Hence, it has a rich past. 

The state is also an important focal point for many sports, such as lawn tennis and golf. If you want to know more about these fun facts about Rhode Island, read on!

1. Rhode Island Is the Smallest US State

Let’s start with one of the well-known fun facts about Rhode Island. 

Did you know that Rhode Island is the smallest US state among 50 other states? Rhode Island has an area of 1,545 square miles or just 4,000 kilometres. 

Alaska, the largest state in the US, is almost seventy times larger than Rhode Island with an area of 100,000 square miles or 258,998 square kilometres!

Fun Facts About Rhode Island

2. Rhode Island Was the 13th State To Join the US

Here’s one of the historical facts about Rhode Island.

Despite its small size, Rhode Island has a large role in US history. It was one of the first 13 states to become a part of the official US Union.

In May 1790, Rhode Island was the last of the original 13 states to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

3. “Hope” Is the Motto of Rhode Island

This is one of the beautiful fun facts about Rhode Island.

Just like other US states, Rhode Island also has its own unique seal. In the centre of the seal, you’ll find an anchor. Now, just below the anchor, you’ll find the word, “Hope” written.

There are various theories about the significance behind using the word as the state’s official motto. 

The most popular explanation is that it comes from the biblical phrase “hope we have as an anchor of the soul” from the Hebrews, Chapter 6, verses 18 and 19.

4. Rhode Island Is a Part of New England

New England consists of the northeastern part of the US. The term “New England” was given to the region by Captain John Smith, an English explorer. 

Captain John Smith explored the areas that now comprise the U.S. states of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

As these states are pretty old, you’ll get to explore many beautiful and historical sites. They also possess the old-town charm!

5. Providence Is the Capital of Rhode Island

Let’s talk about some basic fun facts about Rhode Island. 

Rhode Island had many capitals between 1681 and 1854, such as Bristol, East Greenwich, Newport, Kingston, and Providence. However, in 1854, the state’s main capitals were Providence and Newport.

Later, in 1900, Providence was declared the only capital of Rhode Island.

Fun Facts About Rhode Island

6. Providence Is the Largest City in Rhode Island

Providence isn’t just the capital of Rhode Island, but it is also the state’s largest city!

The city has a population of 189,697 residents and extends for about 53 square kilometres. 

If you want to check out the city, you’ll find many fun things, like Roger Williams Park Zoo, Historic Federal Hill, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art.

7. The Ocean State Is the Nickname of Rhode Island

Throughout the years, Rhode Island has received many nicknames. The most famous one is the “Ocean State”. 

Despite its tiny size, Rhode Island has a huge coastline that goes on for about 400 miles or 643 kilometres. Hence, many people started calling it the “Ocean State”. Apart from this, the nickname was also created to attract more tourists wanting a tropical feel!

The state also has other nicknames, like “Little Rhody”, “The Plantation State”, and “The Southern Gateway of New England”.

8. Rhode Island Had the First Lawn Tennis Championship in the US

If you’re a fan of lawn tennis, you need to know these iconic fun facts about Rhode Island.

Rhode Island is home to the first lawn tennis championship in the US! The U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championship was first held in 1881. 

The championship took place on the grass courts at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island. Today, the same location is known as the International Tennis Hall of Fame. You ought to give it a visit!

9. Violet Is the State Flower of Rhode Island

Rhode Island has more than 400 beautiful plant species. It also has native flower species, such as Doll’s eyes, Red columbine, Clasping milkweed, and Yellow wild indigo

Out of these, the violet (Viola sororia) was officially declared the state flower of Rhode Island in 1968. The main reason is that these adorable flowers are found in abundance in the whole of Rhode Island.

Generally, violet is also considered the state flower for two other US states, Illinois and New Jersey.

10. Rhode Island Is the Sailing Capital of the World

As someone who loves sailing, this is one of my favourite fun facts about Rhode Island.

Newport in Rhode Island is also known as the “Sailing Capital of the World.” The city is situated on the coast of Narragansett Bay. In fact, the city’s sailing history dates back to the 18th century! It is also one of the training centres of the US Navy today.

The love for sailing is so widespread in Newport that many people visit the city during summer just for that. The best season is between April and October.

Newport also hosts the “Newport International Boat Show” annually.

11. The Naming History Behind Rhode Island

The naming fun facts about Rhode Island are pretty intriguing. 

There is no clear origin of the state’s name. However, if you look up its origins, you’ll find two common theories. 

One, Da Verrazzano, the Italian explorer, named the region “Rhode” after the Greek island of the same name. 

Another theory states that Adrian Block, a Dutch explorer, named it “Roodt Eylandt” (Red Island) because the sand appears red due to the presence of clay. The name “Roodt Eylandt” was anglicised to “Rhode Island”.

12. Jerimoth Hill Is Rhode Island’s Highest Point

Here are some geography-related fun facts about Rhode Island. 

Rhode Island doesn’t have many mountains, as it is a bit of a flat state. 

In fact, the highest point in the state, Jerimoth Hill, is located at a height of 812 feet or 247 metres. It is situated in northwest Rhode Island in the town of Foster. Today, the point is used as an observatory. 

Another fun fact is that Jerimoth Hill is the lowest high point in the whole of New England.

13. Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Is Famous for Its Clams

If you love seafood, these fun facts about Rhode Island are for you! 

As I mentioned earlier, Rhode Island is surrounded by Narragansett Bay. Now, it is famous for its clams, particularly a hard-shell clam variety, known as Quahogs.

Quahogs are used for preparing many scrumptious dishes, such as clam chowder, clam stuffies, and clam cakes.

The state also celebrates a Seafood festival, “Blessing of the Fleet Festival”. It is a 2-day event, full of cheerful vibes and mouth-watering seafood!

14. There are Protected Beaches in Rhode Island 

These fun facts about Rhode Island show how important nature preservation is for the people there.

There are some beaches in Rhode Island that are designated as “state parks”. The reason is to protect them from overcrowding, pollution, and overdevelopment. 

There are over 14 state parks in Rhode Island. Out of these, the ones with a shoreline include Beavertail State Park, Brenton Point State Park, Pulaski State Park (with a freshwater beach), and many more.

15. More Than Half of Rhode Island Is Covered by Forests

These fun facts about Rhode Island are a must-know for nature lovers. 

Around 370,000 acres of land in Rhode Island is forested. This shows that 59% of the state is under forest cover. The best part is that 125,000 acres of land is also protected from future development. 

The state’s current forest cover is a huge achievement, as the early settlers in the region cleared two-thirds of the forests for agricultural purposes.

16. Cumberlandite Is the State Rock of Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a unique rock, Cumberlandite, as the official state rock. This rock isn’t found in abundance even in the state. 

There’s only one area (four acres) in Blackstone Valley, Cumberland in Rhode Island, where the rock is exclusively found in a large concentration.

Hence, Cumberlandite was declared as the state rock in 1966, due to its rareness.

17. People Lived in Rhode Island 30000 Years Ago

Here are some surprising fun facts about Rhode Island!

The present-day Rhode Island was once inhabited by the aboriginal ancestors of the Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes. According to archaeological evidence, it is believed that the tribes first settled in the area at least 20,000 to 30,000 years ago

When the European settlers arrived, both Narragansett and the Wampanoag people were the dominant tribes in the region.

18. Rhode Island Had the Longest Official State Name

This is one of the truly fun facts about Rhode Island. 

Did you know that Rhode Island had the longest official name among all the US states? 

Rhode Island was also called the ‘The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations’ legally from 1636 to 2020. In November 2020, the voters voted to change the name to just “Rhode Island”.

If we talk about the common names, North Carolina and Massachusetts have the longest state names.

19. Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island Has Sharks

Here’s one of the scary fun facts about Rhode Island.

Many people believe that Rhode Island’s beaches are shark-free. Well, it’s not always the case because Narragansett Bay is home to many shark species, such as blue sharks, thresher sharks, short-fin makos, and spinner sharks

The Great White Shark was also spotted in Narragansett Bay in September 2023!

20. Rhode Island Is the Second Most Densely Populated State in the US

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the US. Yet, it takes the second spot for being the most densely populated US state after New Jersey!

As of 2023, Rhode Island has a density of 1,100 people per square mile, whereas New Jersey has 1,300 people per square mile. The state always had a significant population for its small area in the past due to the Industrial Revolution and the slave trade.

Fun Facts About Rhode Island

21. Rhode Island Has the USA’s Oldest Library

If you love libraries, these fun facts about Rhode Island are for you!

You can find the oldest library in the whole US, The Redwood Library and Athenæum, in Newport, Rhode Island. The library was founded in 1747 and is still operating in the same building. 

Today, the library has more than 200,000 books for readers, students, and researchers.

Along with being the US’ oldest library, it also takes the title of being the oldest public Neoclassical building in the country.

22. Rhode Island Shares a Water Border With New York

You may have heard about land borders, but Rhode Island also shares a water border with New York!

The maritime border is situated between Block Island in Rhode Island and Long Island in New York state.

23. Rhode Island Is Populated With Italians

Here’s one of the surprising fun facts about Rhode Island. 

There’s a significant population of Italians in the US. But, did you know that Rhode Island has one of the highest percentages of people of Italian descent among all the US states?

In Rhode Island, more than 15% of the population (199,180) claims Italian ancestry. Johnston town in Rhode Island has the most number of Italians in the state as 46.7% of its population is Italian. Towns like Cranston (34.5%) and Bristol (21.2%) also have many Italian-Americans.

24. Roger Williams Founded Rhode Island

Now, let’s deep dive into the historical fun facts about Rhode Island. 

In 1636, Roger Williams, a religious dissenter, founded the colony of Providence in Rhode Island. He wanted a place where people could practice their religion freely, without any government interference. 

Williams played a huge role in the establishment of Rhode Island as a colony with religious liberty and individual rights. His main idea was to separate the concept of church and state in the US. 

25. Rhode Island Has Over 150 Manmade Lakes and Ponds

Rhode Island is a beautiful state because of the presence of numerous lakes and other freshwater bodies. 

The state has 237 lakes and ponds that make up for about 91% of its total inland freshwater. The astonishing thing is that only 25% of these water bodies are natural.

The Scituate Reservoir in Providence is the largest pond as it is spread across 3,390 acres. Other major ponds include Worden Pond (1,043 acres), Flat River Reservoir (593 acres), and Watchaug Pond (573 acres).

26. Rhode Island Has the First Baptist Church in America

Here are some unique fun facts about Rhode Island.

Roger Williams has a huge role in spreading Baptism in the US. In fact, he established and founded the first Baptist church, First Baptist Church of Providence (the First Baptist Meetinghouse) in the US, in 1638. 

The church is located in Providence, Rhode Island, and covers an area of 4,452 square metres

27. Rhode Island Was an Important Part of WWII

World War II has always been a tragic yet interesting point in world history. Now, Rhode Island played a major role in World War II because of its strategic location.

Rhode Island had many naval facilities, like the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, which played a crucial role in developing and testing torpedoes during the war. 

Additionally, the state also had military bases like Fort Adams and Quonset Point Naval Air Station. 

Rhode Island is also popular for the sinking of the German U-boat U-853 during World War II. On May 5, 1945, the U-853 sank near the coast of Block Island in Rhode Island.

28. Rhode Island Has the Only Lighthouse Named After a Person

Here is one of the enlightening fun facts about Rhode Island.

The state has the only lighthouse named after a person, the Ida Lewis Lighthouse, in Newport.

Initially, the lighthouse was named Lime Rock Lighthouse. However, the name was changed to “Ida Lewis Lighthouse” in 1924 to honour Ida Lewis, the lighthouse keeper between 1879 and 1911.

29. The First Open Golf Tournament in the US Was in Rhode Island

If you love lawn tennis, you should know these fun facts about Rhode Island!

Apart from lawn tennis, Rhode Island is also popular for hosting the first open golf tournament in the US.

The tournament, known as the US Open took place in 1895 at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island. Horace Rawlins, an English professional golfer, became the winner and the first champion of the US Open Golf Tournament!

30. Rhode Island Has One of the Oldest Carousels in the US

Here are some fun facts about Rhode Island to bring out the kid in us! 

Rhode Island has one of the oldest carousels, The Watch Hill Flying Horses, in the US. Charles Dare Company, a carousel manufacturer between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, designed and built the carousel, in 1894

The carousel is located in Westerly town in Rhode Island. Today, Watch Hill Flying Horse Carousel Trust, a non-profit organisation, takes care of and maintains the carousel. This way, the future generations can also ride one of the oldest carousels.

31. Coffee Milk Is the State Drink of Rhode Island

Are you into coffee? Well, you should know these fun facts about Rhode Island.

In 1993, coffee milk became the official state drink of Rhode Island. The credit goes to the Italian immigrants who settled in Rhode Island and brought their tradition of coffee milk with them. 

As the name suggests, coffee milk consists of coffee syrup and milk. The coffee syrup is made up of brewed coffee and sugar, which gives the drink a delicious contrast with its bittersweet taste.

Another competitor for the state drink of Rhode Island was Del’s Lemonade – a type of frozen lemonade.

32. Rhode Island Red Is the State Bird of Rhode Island

There are more than 443 bird species in Rhode Island. Out of these, the Rhode Island Red became the official state bird of Rhode Island in 1954. 

Rhode Island Red is a type of chicken breed and is a cross-breed of Oriental breeds, like Malay, and brown Leghorn birds from Italy.

In Rhode Island, these chickens are well-known for their egg-laying abilities, friendliness, and toughness.

33. John F. Kennedy Got Married in Rhode Island

This is one of the iconic fun facts about Rhode Island!

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the US, got married to Jacqueline Bouvier, on September 12, 1953. The wedding took place at the St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island.

The couple decided to get married in Rhode Island because Jacqueline Bouvier’s family had a summer home in Newport. It held a sentimental value for her.

34. Rhode Island Has Some Unexpected Laws

This is one of the craziest fun facts about Rhode Island.

Rhode Island has several funny laws. One of them is that you cannot throw pickle juice at a trolley

Other unusual laws include – you cannot smoke a pipe in Newport after sunset, you cannot wear transparent clothing in Providence, and you cannot sell toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same customer on Sunday. 

35. Rhode Island Refused Prohibition

These are some controversial fun facts about Rhode Island.

Prohibition was a nationwide ban on the production, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. However, Rhode Island was one of the states that didn’t enforce this ban.  In June 1889, 75% of the voters in Rhode Island voted against the law!

The state tried to enforce the Prohibition on its residents thrice. Yet, it didn’t work out successfully.

36. Rhode Island Was a Major Part of the Industrial Revolution

Rhode Island was one of the first states in the U.S. to experience industrialization, particularly in the textile industry. 

Samuel Slater, also known as the “Father of the American Industrial Revolution,” established the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1793.

As Rhode Island was famous for manufacturing textiles and yarn, it became the perfect state for testing machinery and equipment.

37. Rhode Islanders Love Doughnuts

If you love doughnuts, Rhode Island is the place to be! Just read these fun facts about Rhode Island, and you’ll know why.

According to a survey by bestplaces.net, Providence (yes, the capital of Rhodes Island) is ranked number one in doughnut shops per capita

You’ll find Dunkin’ Doughnuts, the famous doughnut store, in more than 150 locations all around Rhodes Island. 

If you want to try something other than Dunkin’, there are local doughnut shops like Allie’s Donuts, PVDonuts & Coffee, DeLuise Bakery, and Knead Donuts.

Fun Facts About Rhode Island

38. The Diner Was Invented in Rhode Island

The US is famous for its peculiar diners! You might’ve heard and seen diners in many American pop culture references, such as Pop’s Diner in Riverdale. Here are some interesting fun facts about Rhode Island and diners. 

It is believed that Rhode Island had the first diner in the US. In 1872, Walter Scott, a resident of Providence, sold food to the employees of the Providence Journal, out of a horse-pulled wagon!

Apart from being the first diner, Walter might have started the first food truck in the nation too.

39. Rhode Island Has Its Own Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell symbolises freedom and independence for the US. Today, it is located in Philadelphia and is also known as the “Old State House Bell”. 

Apart from Philadelphia, you can find a Liberty Bell in Rhode Island too! The bell is situated in the south section of the Rhode Island State House and is a replica of the original Liberty Bell. You’re allowed to view and take pictures of the bell. However, ringing it isn’t allowed.

Forget about Rhode Island, each U.S. state has its replica of the Liberty Bell as the Federal Government gave one to each state in the 1950s because of the national U.S. Savings Bond campaign.

40. Rhode Island Has the World’s Largest Bug 

If you’re scared of bugs, these aren’t your usual fun facts about Rhode Island!

Rhode Island has the world’s largest bug, or more like the biggest bug status, known as “Nibbles Woodaway.” The statue is located in Providence, Rhode Island, and is the mascot of Big Blue Bug Solutions, a local pest control. 

The statue is in the form of a termite and is around 58 feet long. Hence, it is almost 928 times larger than an actual termite! The bug is constructed out of steel and fibreglass and cost $20,000. Today, it is a popular landmark of the state.

41. Giovanni da Verrazano Was the First European in Rhode Island

Here are some more historical fun facts about Rhode Island.

Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer, is believed to be the first European to explore the present-day region of Rhode Island. 

In 1524, he sailed along the Atlantic coast of North America, and Narragansett Bay, which is part of Rhode Island. He was also the first European to sail into New York Bay.

Throughout his journey, Verrazzano also met the Native Americans and travelled all the way to Newfoundland in Canada.

42. Rhode Island Flag Has an Anchor for a Reason

You might’ve seen that the flag of Rhode Island has an anchor on it. 

In 1647, Rhode Island decided to adopt a golden anchor for its colonial seal. This symbol was often a part of the military flags used for the American Revolutionary War between 1775 and 1785.

Moreover, the anchor also symbolises “hope”, which is the official state motto. As you already know, an anchor holds a ship in its place. 

43. Many of Rhode Island’s Mammals Were Almost Hunted to Extinction

This is one of the tragic fun facts about Rhode Island.

During the colonial period (between the 17th and 19th centuries), many mammals were killed to the point of extinction. It is because the colonists had to hunt for their survival and food. 

Some of the mammals that almost went extinct include deer, beavers, black bears, fishers (weasel), and many more

Thankfully, you can find these mammals in the wild again in Rhode Island.

44. Rhode Island Has the First Offshore Wind Farm in the US

If you’re interested in renewable energy sources, you need to know these fun facts about Rhode Island. 

Block Island Wind Farm in New Shoreham, Rhode Island is the first offshore wind farm in the entire US. Its construction was started in 2015 and was completed in 2016. The wind farm provided power and energy to 17,000 homes! It had five wind turbines that generated 125,000 megawatt hours of electricity.

However, the wind turbines were shut down in 2021 due to operational problems.

Fun Facts About Rhode Island

45. Rhode Island Has a Lot of Lighthouses

Due to its extensive coastline, Rhode Island has around 21 beautiful lighthouses

The oldest lighthouse is the Prudence Island Lighthouse, which was constructed on Goat Island in 1823.

Other lighthouses are Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett, North Lighthouse on Block Island, and Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown.

46. The Headquarters of Hasbro Toys Is in Rhode Island

Hasbro Toys is a popular toy and board game company in the US. It is known for its games, like Monopoly and Little Pony.

Initially, the company was founded in Providence in 1923. However, later on, its headquarters were shifted to Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

47. H.P. Lovecraft Was From Rhode Island

If you’re into books, you may have heard of the famous American author, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (or H.P. Lovecraft). 

The writer is popular for his literary works in the horror, science, and fantasy niches. He is also referred to as the “Father of Cosmic Horror. ” Some of his well-known books are The Call of Cthulhu and The Cats of Cthulhu. 

H.P. Lovecraft was born on 20 August 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. You can also see the H.P. Lovecraft House from outside, but entry is not allowed.

48. Rhode Island is Bordered By Only Two States

Since Rhode Island is pretty small, it is bordered by only two states – Connecticut to the west and Massachusetts to the north and east.

49. Cap Guns Are Illegal in Rhode Island

Let’s take a look at one of the unusual fun facts about Rhode Island.

Cap guns are simply toy guns with small explosive caps, which create a popping sound and little smoke when fired. 

The weirdest thing is that Rhode Island has banned and made cap guns illegal. Therefore, no person can sell or purchase it.

50. The Prestigious Brown University Is in Rhode Island

Brown University, one of the Ivy League universities, is situated in Providence, Rhode Island. 

The university was founded in 1764 and is the seventh-oldest higher education institute in the US.

51. Narragansett Brewing Company Was Formed in Rhode Island

In 1888, six local businessmen started the Narragansett Brewing Company. The first brewing house was located in Cranston, Rhode Island. The company produced the first beer in December 1890. 

Today, Narragansett Brewing Company has become a favourite for many because of its authentic lager, Narragansett beer.

The residents of Rhode Island have a splendid music scene with two major music festivals, such as the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival.

The Newport Folk Festival takes place during the summer months (July) and embraces the folk music style. On the other hand, the Newport Jazz Festival takes place around August and is for celebrating jazz music.

53. Many Iconic Movies Were Shot in Rhode Island 

Are you a cinephile? If so, you might recognize these fun facts about Rhode Island.

Hollywood movies like The Great Gatsby, Meet Joe Black, The Conjuring, and 27 Dresses were shot in Rhode Island. The filming locations mainly include Bristol, Providence, and Newport.

54. Rhode Island Was Once the Jewellery Capital of the World

Rhode Island is a gem of a state! It was once titled the “Jewelry Capital of the World.” 

The state had a thriving jewellery industry, especially in Providence and Pawtucket, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, the state produced 80% of the costume jewellery

Unfortunately, Rhode Island lost its title due to competition from overseas manufacturers and changing consumer preferences.

55. Rhode Island Has Its Own Song

“Rhode Island’s It For Me” is the official state song of Rhode Island. The song’s lyrics were written by Charlie Hall and the music is composed by Maria Day. 

The song became the official state song in 1996 and replaced the song “Rhode Island” by T. Clarke Browne.

Further Reading – Fun Facts About Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the US, but its significance in the country’s history and culture is unparalleled! 

I hope these fun facts about Rhode Island helped you learn more about its history, general landscape, and traditions.

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