15 Things You Might Not Know About Virginia
1. On Tangier Island, Virginia, many folks speak a dialect that closely resembles the language used in Restoration England, a period just slightly after Shakespeare's time. Television and the advancement of mass communication devices have caused the accent to deteriorate but, for generations, inhabitants sounded much like early English settlers. Huzzah!
2. Half the population of the United States lives within a 500-mile radius of the capital of Virginia.
3. If tallying by place of birth, Virginia has produced more U.S. presidents than any other sate (Ohio is close on its heels with seven). The eight presidents born in Virginia were: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson (that includes four of our first five!).
4. The country's first commercial crop of peanuts was grown in Virginia in the 1800s. Peanuts, which were considered difficult to grow, were primarily used for oil, livestock food, and as a cocoa substitute.
5. The state motto of Virginia is sic semper tyrannis, which translates to “Thus always to tyrants.” The Latin words are also reported to have been shouted by actor John Wilkes Booth from the Ford's Theatre stage after he shot President Abraham Lincoln; Booth was born in Maryland, not Virginia.
6. More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state.
7. Oyster enthusiasts, take note: The only museum dedicated specifically to the oyster biz was located on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. In 2008, the Oyster Museum was renamed the Museum of Chincoteague Island and its focus broadened to include more of the area's history.
8. Mount Trashmore Park, a 165-acre state park in Virginia Beach, is a rehabilitated landfill. The park's main mountain, Mount Trashmore, is 60 feet tall, 800 feet long, and was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil.
9. The first American college student arrested for streaking executed the stunt on the campus of Washington College (now Washington and Lee) in Lexington, Virginia, in 1804. George William Crump, who had to sit out the rest of the term after pulling the stunt, went on to claim a seat in Congress.
10. The Wren Building at the College of William and Mary is the oldest college building in the country.
11. Virginia was the only one of the colonies to have been originally divided into “shires.” While Tolkien might have approved, the eight shires created in 1634 were renamed “counties” only a few years later.
12. Natural Bridge, Virginia, is home to Foamhenge, a full-size replica of Stonehenge made entirely out of Styrofoam.
13. You can find Stonewall Jackson’s amputated left arm buried in Lacy Family Cemetery in Ellwood, Virginia. It should be easy to find, since it is the cemetery's only marked “grave”—a small granite marker states simply, “Arm of Stonewall Jackson, May 3, 1863.”
14. Arlington, Virginia, is home to the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum. At the museum, you can learn about the history of illegal drugs in America.
15. The Pentagon, in addition to being the home of the U.S. Department of Defense, also lays claim to being the world’s largest low-rise office building. It has twice the floor space of the Empire State Building, and the U.S. Capitol building could fit into any one of the Pentagon’s five sections.