Welcome to Fun Facts About the 50 States, where – week by week – I’ll be taking you on a tour around this great nation of ours, providing you with interesting, yet completely useless and probably untrue, information about each of the 50 states.
This week, it’s time to take a wrong turn at the Washington Monument and accidentally wind up in Maryland, so let’s get started…
* Maryland became the 7th state on April 28th, 1788 after it finally agreed to stop trying to invade Delaware to steal its oil.
* The state bird of Maryland is the Oriole, which should NOT be confused with any similarly-named, chocolate-flavored, creme-filled sandwich cookies.
* The state flower of Maryland is the Black-Eyed Susan, or – as it’s referred to by feminists – the “Justifiable Homicide Plant”.
* The highest point in Maryland is Backbone Mountain. It’s 3360 feet tall, and has never been climbed by a Frenchman.
* The state motto of Maryland is, “Yup, pretty much just a suburb of DC”.
* Maryland’s nickname of “The Old Line State” is somewhat of a misnomer, since most of its residents prefer to freebase their cocaine.
* Maryland was named after Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I of England. They WERE going to call is “Henriettaland”, but decided that sounded too much like some kind of pussycat-puppet-related theme park.
* The lowest point in Maryland is Bloody Point Hole, at 174 feet below sea level. It used to be deeper, but Karl Rove’s been using it a lot lately to dispose of “stifled dissenters”, if you know what I mean.
* Presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth was born in Bel Air, Maryland in 1838. Because of his high-profile crime, all US theaters now have “Marylander detectors” at each entrance as a security precaution.
* Famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland, which – and I can’t emphasize this enough – starts with the letter “T”, so really watch that left index finger while you’re typing.
* Another famous abolitionist – Harriet Tubman – was born in Dorchester County, Maryland and freed over 300 slaves during 20 trips between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Today, many black people honor her heroic journeys by running up and down a wooden court for an hour, symbolically helping basketballs escape slavery by throwing them through “freedom hoops”.
* Gaithersburg, Maryland is home to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It employs over 3000 pimply-faced geek-boys, none of whom have yet kissed a real girl.
* National Anthem author Francis Scott Key was born in Frederick, Maryland, where he spent his formative years blowing stuff up and writing poetry about the explosions.
* Baseball Hall-of-Famer Babe Ruth grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and developed his legendary slugging prowess by working as a knee-cap breaker for local loan sharks.
* The United States Naval Academy was founded on October 10, 1845 at Annapolis, Maryland. Coincidentally, the United States Hooker Academy was founded across the street the next day.
* The first cathedral in the US was built in Baltimore, Maryland in 1821, mostly to clear the streets of the numerous drunken Irishmen passed out in the gutters.
* Annapolis, Maryland once served as the capital of the US, but the Congressional building was eventually moved to Washington, D.C. to make room for the United States Hooker Academy.
* The first dental school in the US opened at the University of Maryland in 1840. The early facilities were quite primitive, and the first class taught there was a course in how to make a set of dentures out of duct tape and roofing nails.
* The Concord Point lighthouse is the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in Maryland, because no one in the state is smart enough to figure out how to operate the light switch.
* Maryland was originally populated by confused colonists from Virginia who wandered too far north and got stuck in snowbanks.
* Kind of explains the light switch thing, doesn’t it?
* The highest waterfall in Maryland is Muddy Creek Falls. At 63 feet tall, it’s actually large enough for Michael Moore to fit underneath it, unless he’s laying on his back.
* In 1790 Maryland rounded up all the lawyers in the state and threw them into a fetid swamp near the southern border of the state, now known as Washington, D.C.
* The first successful manned hot air balloon launch occurred in Baltimore, Maryland in 1784. The pilot – Edward Warren – reportedly described his trip as “a great way to peek down the front of women’s dresses.”
* The state song of Maryland is “Maybe We Should’ve Killed Those Lawyers Before We Threw Them In That Swamp”.
Well, that wraps up the Maryland edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States. Next week we’ll be swerving off a bridge like a Kennedy as we visit Massachusetts.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a hot air balloon ride.
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