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5 Interesting Facts About Maryland

Maryland was one of the original 13 colonies. It is known for their blue crab. Maryland is also sometimes referred to as “America in Miniature”. This is because of the various landscapes it has from pine forests to sandy dunes to rolling hills and to its marshlands. It has a little bit of everything. Maryland is also known for experiencing all four seasons.

Hot Air Balloons

In the late 18th century, the world was fascinated by a new device known as a hot air balloon. Over in Europe, the Montgolfier brothers had done a manned flight over France in 1783. People in America were intrigued and some set out to make their own. Peter Carnes of Bladensburg, Maryland was one of them. He was a small-town lawyer and inn-keeper who had no scientific experience but that didn’t stop him. He fashioned a balloon based off of newspaper sketches that was 35 feet in diameter. He then did an unmanned demonstration in Bladensburg that was a success. After that he wanted to go up himself and planned another demonstration for Baltimore. He discovered that he was too heavy for it and found someone else, thirteen-year-old Edward Warren. So, on June 23, 1784, Edward Warren was the first person in America to successfully take part in a hot air balloon flight.  

Jousting

When people think of jousting, images of the Middle Ages come to mind. Perhaps thoughts of the knights in the Arthurian Legends. Most people probably don’t think of Maryland. Jousting has been a part of Maryland since colonial times. It regained its popularity after the Civil War. It retained the pageantry that one associates with medieval tournaments. In 1962, jousting became the official sport of Maryland. Modern competitors are called “knights” and “maids” and they dress in colorful costumes. The tournaments in Maryland are ring tournaments. The jouster gallops through an 80-yard course towards suspended rings. They use a fine-tipped lance and the rider has 8 seconds to complete the course and spear the rings. So, if you ever want to know what a Middle Ages jousting tournament might have looked like, then attend the Maryland State Jousting Tournament.  

Wild Ponies

Assateague Island is a 37-mile-long barrier island off the coast of Maryland. While two-thirds of the island is Maryland, the southern third is considered a part of Virginia. The island is owned by three different agencies; the National Park Service, Maryland State Parks and United States Fish and Wildlife Services. Assateague Island is most known for its two herds of wild ponies. They have been there for hundreds of years. One herd is part of the Maryland side and the other part of Virginia. Every year there are rounded up to swim across the channel to Virginia. They live of the grass and the fresh water ponds. There is some debate about how they ended up there. Local legend has it that they are the ancestors of survivors of a shipwreck off the coast that happened hundreds of years ago. There is some evidence that a Spanish galleon wrecked near there in 1750.  

Railroad

Maryland is home to the first railroad station in the United States. In 1828, construction began on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad line. The first station was opened in Baltimore in 1830. The B&O Railroad was the first commercial railroad and first long-distance track in America. This railroad was vital to the United States westward expansion. It was able to provide supplies and transportation all the way to the West Coast. If you are interested in learning more about the history of the railroad in America, you can visit the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.  

Lord Baltimore

There are two Lord Baltimores associated with Maryland. The first is Sir George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, who founded the colony of Maryland. After not liking the weather in Newfoundland he went south to Jamestown to find a new area to settle. He wanted to create a safe colony for English Catholics who were being persecuted. He went to England to ask the King for a charter. A few weeks before the charter was passed in 1632, he died and left the colony his son, Cecil Calvert the 2nd Baron Baltimore. The new Lord Baltimore was made the first Proprietor of the Province of Maryland. He governed from afar and appointed governors, usually members of his family with the first being his brother Leonard Calvert. The Calverts left their mark all over Maryland. The state flag has the Calvert colors and the city of Baltimore is named for them. Even the state seal is from Lord Baltimore’s family crest.