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Delaware Interesting Facts


First State

Delaware was the first state to ratify the federal Constitution -- December 7, 1787, becoming the first state in the Union. And because of this, according to "Delaware Facts" (from State of Delaware Web page), Delaware is given the first position in such national events as presidential inaugurations. The delegates met at the Golden Fleece Inn on the Green in Dover. (from Smithsonian Guide, p. 380)

Second Smallest State

Delaware ranks 49th in the nation with a total land area of 1,955 square miles. Note: Rhode Island is the smallest state. Delaware is also one of the smallest states in terms of population. Its 1990 Census population count is 666,168, ranking it 46th in population. Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are the least populous states. (from Book of the States, p. 424)

Lowest State

Delaware's average altitude is about 60 feet above sea level, making it the lowest average altitude of any state. (from Frommer's, p. 154)

Delaware also has one of the lowest high points: Ebright Azimuth at 442 feet is the highest point in Delaware. Located at the junction of Ramblewood Drive and Ebright Road in Wilmington, Delaware. Only Florida has a lower high point. (from Delaware Geological Survey and State Highpointers Club WWW site)

Fewest Counties

Delaware has 3 counties, the fewest of any state having counties. Alaska does not have counties. Other small numbers are Hawaii which has 4 and Rhode Island which has 5. (from American Counties)Longest Twin Span Suspension Bridge

Delaware Memorial Bridge is the longest twin span suspension bridge in the world. The bridge, which was opened in 1951, connects Delaware and New Jersey. (from New Castle County Web page and "Delaware," World Book Encyclopedia)

Most Ph.D.s

According to a survey by the National Science Foundation, Delaware has more doctoral-level (Ph.D.) scientists and engineers, as a percentage of the population, than any other state. Delaware also has a higher rate of patent awards, per person, than any other state. (from State of Delaware Web page, Economic Development)

Only State Without a National Park

Delaware does not have a National Park, but it does have a National Wildlife Refuge, Bombay Hook. (from Facts about the States, p. 90)

One of the Oldest Churches

Old Swedes (Holy Trinity Church) is one of the oldest churches in America still in use. It was built in 1698. Located: 606 Church Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. (302) 652-5629 (from Smithsonian Guide, p. 360)

First Flying of the Stars and Stripes Flag

Tradition holds that the new 13-star flag, the Stars and Stripes, was first unfurled in the Battle of Cooch's Bridge, September 3, 1777. (Only Revolutionary battle fought in Delaware.) (from State of Delaware Web page, "Attractions & Historic Sites: Rural New Castle County, Delaware")

Washington Really Was Here

General George Washington and his staff met at the Hale-Byrnes House during the American Revolution's Brandywine campaign. (Mid-18th-century brick building with a fieldstone springhouse.) Located: along the White Clay Creek. (from State of Delaware Web page, "Attractions & Historic Sites: Rural New Castle County, Delaware")

Washington also stayed at the Robinson House. Built approximately 1723. In Revolutionary War days it was inhabited by notables such as George Washington, Lafayette, Anthony Wayne, Robert Morris and General "Lighthorse" Harry Lee. Located: Naaman's Road and Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE 19703. (302) 798-7335 (from State of Delaware Web page, "Attractions & Historic Sites: City of Wilmington, Delaware")

One of the Last States to Use Corporal Punishment

Delaware and Maryland were the last two United States states to use corporal punishment, the whipping post. In Delaware the last flogging took place in 1952. Corporal Punishment was not abolished in Delaware until 1972. (from "Corporal Punishment" in Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, p. 251)

Cradle of Methodism in America: Barratt's Chapel

Barratt's Chapel, erected in 1780, is known as the "Cradle of Methodism in America." The Methodists established the New World chapter of their religion here in 1784. This building in listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located: One mile north of Frederica on US 113, RD #2, Box 25, Frederica, DE 19946. (302) 335-5544. (from State of Delaware Web page, "Attractions & Historic Sites: Kent County, Delaware")

Home of the "Penman of the Revolution": John Dickinson

John Dickinson (1732-1808) was known as the "Penman of the Revolution." John Dickinson Plantation, his boyhood home near Dover, is a museum. It is furnished with family pieces and antiques of the period. Today, farm outbuildings and a log dwelling have been constructed to complete the interpretation of an 18th-century Kent County, Delaware plantation. Located: Off of US 113, south of Dover & Dover Air Force Base, Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, DE 19901. (302) 739-3277. (from State of Delaware Web page, "Attractions & Historic Sites: Kent County, Delaware") Note: Virginia's George Mason is also known as the Penman of the Revolution. (from Smithsonian Guide, p. 356 and Dictionary of American Biography, v. 3)

Birthplace of the Inventor of the Phonograph: E.R. Johnson

Eldridge Reeves Johnson (1867-1945) was born in Wilmington and grew up in Dover. Johnson was inventor of the phonograph and founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company, today known as RCA. The Johnson Victrola Museum is in Dover. Designed as a 1920's Victrola dealer's store, it features an extensive collection of phonographs, records and memorabilia related to the Victor Talking Machine Company. It also has an oil painting of Nipper, the dog from the RCA trademark "His Master's Voice". Located: Bank Lane & New Street, Dover, DE. 19901. (302) 739-4266. (from State of Delaware Web page, "Attractions & Historic Sites: Kent County, Delaware"; Frommer's, p. 208; and Dictionary of American Biography, supp. 3)

First John Deere Tractor

The first tractor John Deere made is in the Messick Agricultural Museum, Inc. in Harrington, Delaware. The museum features old tractors, implements, tools, antique kitchen, smokehouse equipment, gasoline engines, treadmills, antique wagons, and more. Open Monday-Friday; call for an appointment on weekends. Located: One Vernon Road (DE 14W), Harrington, DE 19952. (302) 398-3729. (from State of Delaware Web page, "Attractions & Historic Sites: Kent County, Delaware")

First Coastal Zone Act

In 1971, in an effort to protect beaches and wetlands, the state legislature of Delaware passed the nation's first Coastal Zone Act, barring industries that pollute. (from Delaware (United States), The National Geographic Atlas)

Hexagonal Victorian Building: Old Library Museum

The Old Library Museum in New Castle is an example of fanciful Victorian architecture and is attributed to Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. It was erected in 1892 by the New Castle Library Society. Today it holds the exhibits of the New Castle Historical Society. Located: 40 E. Third Street, New Castle, DE (302) 328-2923. (from Frommer's, p. 196 and Smithsonian Guide, p. 350)

One of the Largest Shell Collections: Delaware Museum of Natural History

The Delaware Museum of Natural History houses one of the hemisphere's largest shell collections. Located: Route 52, between Greenville and Centreville, DE. (302) 658-9111. (from Frommer's, p. 187, 190)

One of the World's Largest Amber Collections: University Gallery, University of Delaware

University Gallery on the campus of the University of Delaware has one of the largest amber collections in the world. Donated by Leslie and Sarah Jastak-Burgess, the collection includes amber carvings, jewelry, and other works. The colors include many shades of amber, ranging from creamy bone and fiery red. Call for appointment. (from UD Messenger, Summer 1993 & Winter 1994) Selected pieces from the Amber collection are currently on display in Daugherty Hall.

Mason-Dixon Line connection.

The Mason-Dixon Line forms the state's western border. By the way, Delaware's border with Maryland runs through two towns, the names of which were created by combining the names of the two states: Marydel and Delmar. (from Frommer's, p. 153 and "Delaware," World Book Encyclopedia, p. 97)Premiere Museum of Americana: Winterthur Museum

Winterthur Museum has one of the foremost collections of American furniture and decorative arts. It has nearly two hundred period rooms, furnished in styles ranging from 1640 to 1840. Located: Route 52 (800) 448-3883. (from Smithsonian Guide, p. 365f and Winterthur Web page) By the way, the "h" in Winterthur is silent.

Internationally Famous Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art: Delaware Art Museum

Located: 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE (302) 571-9590. (From Delaware Art Museum Online)

Nylon Capital of the World: Seaford

Seaford, Delaware, is the site of the DuPont Company's first nylon manufacturing plant. It was established in 1939. (from Smithsonian Guide, p. 356)

Leader in Incorporations

Due to its favorable incorporation laws, many out-of-state businesses choose to incorporate in Delaware. In 1990, more than half of the country's Fortune 500 companies were incorporated in Wilmington. (from Facts about the States, p. 90)

First Christmas Seals

Wilmington, Delaware, was the first place Christmas seals were introduced in the United States in December 1907. The designer of the seals was Emily P. Bissell, a Delaware author. (from "Delaware," World Book Encyclopedia, p. 97)

First Beauty Contest

In 1880, the first beauty contest in the United States was held in Rehoboth Beach. Thomas Edison was one of the three judges in this contest, called the "Miss United States" contest. This contest is considered to be the foreunner of the Miss America pageant. (from Frommer's, p. 154 and "Delaware," World Book Encyclopedia, p. 97)

Poultry Place: Sussex County

Sussex County raises more broiler chickens than any other county in the United States. (from Frommer's, p. 154)

Home of Tax Free Shopping

Delaware is one of only five states having no sales tax. The others are: Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. (from Book of the States, p. 262)


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