Virginia is a historic state which you will find towards the southeast of the US, famous for its roots at the very start of the founding, as well as for the role it played in the American Revolution. It’s referred to as one of the original US colonies founded, with only 12 other states earning this honor. However, there’s likely more to Virginia than many people imagine! Referred to locally as ‘the Commonwealth’, many people travel from all over the US and globally to dip into a fascinating period of American history.
Whether you’re from the region or are interested in taking a closer look at the state’s many historic attractions, now is a great time to dive into a few facts and figures. Here are just a few interesting facts about Virginia for you below. Time to dip into history!
The state flower is the dogwood, which is also the state tree! The state bird, meanwhile, is the cardinal.
As of 2019, it’s estimated around 8.5 million people live in Virginia.
The capital of Virginia is Richmond. William Byrd, who was involved in the construction of the city, likened the view of its River James to that of the view of the River Thames from Richmond, London.
The Seal of the State of Virginia shows a Roman Goddess, ’Virtus’ (meaning ‘of virtue’), standing over a tyrant she has just slain. She holds a sword and a spear, while the fallen tyrant holds a chain and a whip. Virtus represents Virginia, and the Tyrant represents Britain.
Part of the Shenandoah Mountains house the Shenandoah National Park, named after the river that flows through it.
Almost 80,000 acres of the Shenandoah National Park are designated wilderness and are protected as such.
Old Rag Mountain reaches a summit of 3,284 feet. Situated near Sperryville, it attracts thousands of sightseers and hikers each year.
Virginia’s recorded history began in the 1500s, when Spanish explorers landed at Victoria.
Jamestown settler dead in the swamp
Sir Walter Raleigh, in accordance with Queen Elizabeth’s wishes, named the state ‘Virginia’ in honor of the Virgin Queen.
English colonists settled in Virginia in 1607. Indigenous tribes and visiting explorers had both conflict and cohesion.
Eventually, post-revolution, Virginia’s cities settled and thrived – but, to this day, many monuments, flags, emblems and even street names refer to battles fought in darker days.
The state motto is ‘Sic semper tyrannis’. This translates to mean ‘thus always to tyrants’.
The famous Arlington Cemetery houses military personnel in some 624 acres. It’s a stark and respectful reminder of how Virginia was founded and became what it is today.
Many English dialects are still heard spoken profusely in Virginia.
Amongst the first founders was John Rolfe, who is famous for having married the famous Pocahontas. Their story, of course, was roughly translated into an animated Disney movie.
Hampton, Virginia is the home of NASA’s research and development center for space flight and exploration.
Colonial Williamsburg is referred to as a living museum all on its own. Housed on a 301 acre site, it houses many recreated and restored buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Perhaps the most famous building of Virginia is the Pentagon, which is based in Arlington County. It’s the HQ of the US Department of Defense, and home to the Military, the Navy, and the Air Force.
Built in 1941, the Pentagon was originally based on swampland. Therefore, around 5.5 million cubic yards of soil need to be laid! It’s also constructed from almost 42,000 concrete piles.
The Pentagon cost $83 million to build, and up to 13,000 people were employed in its construction.
Virginia is sometimes referred to as ‘The Mother of Presidents’. This is because more US Presidents have been born in Virginia than in any other US State.
Presidents born in Virginia include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.
A famous historical speech took place on March 23rd, 1775 at St John’s Church, Richmond. Before the Virginia Convention, the words’ give me liberty or give me death’ were spoken by Patrick Henry, when he signaled the coming of the ‘Revolution’.
The British surrendered to General Washington at the Battle of Yorktown. This battle helped to bring an end to the American Revolution.
The famous Chesapeake Crater was discovered in 1983, in Chesapeake Bay. It is a major site for historic, geological, and scientific study, as well as a popular site for tourism.
The Chesapeake Crater is thought to be 35 million years old, and with a 35 mile diameter, it still holds secrets today. Scientific studies of the area continue as it is thought to be wholly unique!
The film ‘Dirty Dancing’, starring Patrick Swayze, was filmed in Pembroke. Many local people were employed as extras, and the production brought renewed interest and funds to the community.
A stone monument was erected locally to commemorate Swayze, who sadly passed away several years after the movie was originally popular.
Forbes magazine named Alexandria the ‘Ice Cream Cone’ capital – meaning that if you’re a particular fan of the sweet treat, it’s well worth taking a trip out here.
In Chincoteague, the local fire department raises funds by hosting ‘PonySwim’ events. It’s here where cowboys and wild horses take to the water for a variety of events, with the aim of bringing local people together – and to help raise funds for the worthy, local cause.
It’s thought that bourbon has roots in Virginia. It is here where you will have originally found Fayette County, the birthplace of the drink. At the turn of the 19th century, the County’s lines were redrawn for it to reside in Kentucky instead. That’s why many believe bourbon to actually be a Kentucky invention!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Virginia that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!