10 Fun Facts About Rhode Island

10 Fun Facts About Rhode Island

Aug 21
10 Fun Facts About Rhode Island

Although small in size, Rhode Island boasts a rich historical legacy. Enthusiastic trivia aficionados like us revel in uncovering the hidden narratives of our locality. Thus, here are ten astonishing facts that might catch you by surprise about the nation’s most diminutive state.

1. Headquarters of Hasbro

Rhode Island’s industrial landscape may have dwindled, save for the investments arm of Fidelity, but it is home to Hasbro Toys’ corporate headquarters. Nestled in the heart of Downtown Providence, the prominent presence of a colossal Mr. Potato Head character on the street offers a delightful sight. While Hasbro might not claim the title of the largest toy company globally (a distinction earned by Lego in 2017), it remains a producer of Marvel-licensed toys aplenty and the pioneering force behind Cabbage Patch Kids.

A bonus tidbit: Rhode Island designates Mr. Potato Head as its official “family travel ambassador.”

2. A Greek-Inspired Moniker

Rhode Island’s name is an homage to Rhodes, a petite Greek isle off Turkey’s southwestern tip. In antiquity, Rhodes gained worldwide renown for housing the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This colossal statue, an embodiment of the Greek deity Helios, dominated the landscape from 280 BC until its partial collapse in 226 BC. Just as the small island hosted an immense statue, Rhode Island’s story echoes a parallel theme.

An extra nugget: the full name is “Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations.”

3. Opposition to Prohibition

Perhaps Rhode Islanders savor libations more than most, or perhaps they possess a keener economic sensibility. In the 1920s, Rhode Island, predominantly Catholic due to Italian, Irish, and Polish immigrant influxes, defied the norm by rejecting the Eighteenth Amendment, commonly known as Prohibition. Devout Catholics perceived Prohibition as a Protestant ploy to outlaw the Catholic Mass, which incorporates wine during the Sacrament. During this era, some Rhode Islanders capitalized on Prohibition, engaging in rum-running along the New England coast.

4. Quirky Legislation Abounds

Providence levies an odd ban against flinging pickle juice at trolleys, while remnants of a law proscribing labor, business, work, or play on Sundays still exist. Strangely, it remains feasible for the state to penalize companies for Sunday labor. An intriguing rule mandates generating a loud noise prior to overtaking a vehicle on the left (but not the right).

A supplementary nugget: Newport prohibits pipe smoking post-sunset.

5. Birthplace of the First Circus

Rhode Island can claim to have hosted America’s inaugural circus before it ventured to other locales. In 1774, Newport witnessed the birth of the initial American circus. Jacob Bates, an English equestrian who dazzled Europe with his equestrian feats, ignited this phenomenon. Bates’ achievements, including riding four horses concurrently, left crowds across London to Paris spellbound. His American tour prompted Christopher Gardner to establish his riding academy in Newport, pioneering the nation’s first circus.

6. Coffee Milk Is The State Drink

A unique concept, coffee milk involves blending coffee-flavored syrup into milk, resulting in coffee milk. Though not widely embraced beyond Rhode Island, this distinctive beverage claims the state’s title as its official drink. A caffeinated distinction indeed!

7. Unintentional Nuclear Incident

Regrettably, Rhode Island bears the singular distinction of experiencing an unplanned nuclear explosion on American soil, outside controlled environments like power plants. In 1964, Wood River witnessed the incident at the United Nuclear Corporation Recovery Systems facility. This establishment managed scrap materials, deriving highly-enriched uranium from used materials for fuel production. An error by technician Robert Peabody involving radioactive uranium-235 led to an uncontrolled nuclear fission chain reaction. The accident exposed Peabody to severe radiation, resulting in his demise.

8. The Enormous Termite

Providence proudly shelters the world’s largest bug, a 2-ton, 58-foot long termite christened Nibbles Woodaway. Affixed atop a pest control building, Nibbles symbolizes “Big Blue Bug Pest Control,” the company beneath it.

9. Magnificent Dome at the State House

Despite its modest size, Rhode Island has a penchant for grandeur. The dome adorning the Rhode Island State House ranks as the fourth largest self-supporting dome globally, trailing only St. Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal, and the Minnesota State Capitol.

10. Sanctuary of Religious Freedom

Rhode Island’s legacy as a bastion of religious liberty encompasses the distinction of harboring America’s first Baptist church and inaugural synagogue. This illustrious heritage echoes through its historic landscape.

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