Today is Maryland Day, an opportunity to celebrate everything that makes the state a fantastic place to live in and visit. I’ve been a Maryland resident for a little more than a decade, and in that time I’ve come to appreciate this sometimes overlooked state. Why overlooked? Well, we suffer from having more famous neighbors, most notably Washington, DC, Pennsylvania and even New York. There are a lot of great things about the state, though and as it turns out, the lives of millions, even billions, of people around the world would be much different if it weren’t for the great state of Maryland.
1. America’s First Railroad
Yup, you read that correctly; American’s first railroad wasn’t in New York or Pennsylvania, it was in Maryland. In 1828, ground was broken for the start of the Baltimore & Ohio – America’s first railroad.
At first the line used horses to pull the trains and later introduced the first commercially viable steam locomotives in the country. This isn’t just a nice fact about the quirks of history though. The train changed the world in every way possible. It meant that goods and people could be easily transported across great distances in record time, increasing America’s wealth and influence in the process. Reverberations of this important development in transportation are still felt in 2014, and it was all thanks to Maryland entrepreneurs.
2. The Fridge
In 1800, a Maryland engineer developed what he called the “refrigerator.” Although not what we would call this vital appliance today, Moore’s device was the first use of this now firmly entrenched term. His machine was essentially a cedar tub that was insulated with rabbit fur that was then filled with ice, surrounding a sheet metal container for transporting butter from Maryland to Washington, DC. Without this important technological advance by Mr. Moore, we would have spoiled milk and nothing to heat up in our microwaves.
While it’s true that versions of what we know as umbrellas have been used around the world for centuries, it wasn’t until 1828 when the first umbrella factory in the United States was established in Baltimore, Maryland. The factory was the first attempt to bring this item once prized by the wealthy and elite to the everyman using the slogan: “Born in Baltimore, raised around the world."
4. State Sport
While Americans love sports, Maryland was the first state to officially recognize one as the state sport. Although lacrosse is very popular in Maryland, it was ultimately jousting that won this coveted honor. Yes, jousting. With a lance. On a horse. Like knights.
While not an exceedingly common sport, you can see real life jousting tournaments around the state, including at the annual Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, Maryland; one of the largest in the country.
How well do you know your Maryland history? What are some other reasons to love the state?