You’ve hit the jackpot if you’ve been searching for the most interesting Massachusetts facts.
Here, you will find the most fascinating, intriguing, historically rich, and somewhat peculiar facts about the well-loved Bay State (or Bake Bean State for a little chuckle).
Massachusetts is also fondly known as the Pilgrim State, and in this post, I’ll tell you a few fun facts, information, and trivia about Massachusetts.
Be prepared to indulge in a state enriched with everything from chocolate chip cookies and doughnuts to memorable events, devastating disasters, and everything in between.
I will delve into the state where many of America’s firsts happened, its deep history, mysterious witch trials, world-renowned universities, exquisite cuisine, successful sports development, presidents, and picturesque coastline. Any trip to Massachusetts is bound to be an unforgettable experience.
26 Fun Massachusetts Facts You Need to Know
1. It Takes Its Name From A Native American Tribe
The name Massachusetts is derived from the indigenous American Massachusett tribe.
It is translated as “at the Great Hill,” referring to the Blue Hills southwest of Boston (The state’s capital). The state attained statehood in 1788, becoming the 6th state to join the US Union.
Massachusetts was one of the initial thirteen colonies to declare independence from the UK, having played a vital role in the American Revolution.
One of the more interesting facts about Massachusetts is that it is one of the smallest states.
With a total area of 10,554 square miles, it has a population of more than 6.9 million people (“Bay Staters” as they are more fondly known), crammed into a relatively small space of 14 counties.
2. Massachusetts Houses A Lake With The Longest Name
Webster Lake…well, that’s what it is most commonly known as today. If you are looking for one of the most surprising Massachusetts facts, this one will grab your attention.
The lake’s actual name is Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg! And no, I’m not kidding.
The name of the lake comes from the local Nipmuc tribe and means, “You fish on your side, I will fish on my side, and nobody fishes in the middle.”
Not only is it the longest name of a place in the US, but it is also the third-longest name in the world.
3. The Land Was First Occupied Over Thousands Of Years Ago
Retreating ice glaciers uncovered the land (Now known as Massachusetts) approximately 12,000 years ago.
In 1620, “The Mayflower,” a ship, arrived from England with escaping Pilgrims on board.
One of the more historical Massachusetts facts is that these settlers were responsible for creating the first permanent European settlement in New England, known as Plymouth.
New England is an area in the US, situated on the Northeastern side of the country, where people from England settled.
Massachusetts is in New England, bordered by New Hampshire and Vermont on the north, with New York on the western border.
The glaciers exposed many rocky bays on Massachusetts’ eastern coastline (the Coastal Lowland), giving it a physical “big hook” appearance.
These bays are ideal for boating, fishing, and vacations. One will find slight hills, plains, and streams in the state’s center and mountains in the west.
4. Snow Shoveling Is A Massachusetts Tradition
Massachusetts fun facts include the annual tradition of having to shovel your driveways due to the frosty snowfalls and storms.
The winters tend to be rather brutal, but the summers are truly majestic, consisting of warm sunny days and cool evenings.
Besides rather icy cold winters, the humid continental climate of the state creates the most beautiful summers, adding to its already appealing nature.
5. Massachusetts Prides Itself On The Cutest State Dog
Have you ever wondered where the name “Boston terrier” came from? Well, you guessed it. Boston, of course!
This intelligent, adorable, flat-faced breed is known for its boundless energy and fun-filled, loving tactics.
It is worth noting that the Boston Terrier was the very first purebred dog developed exclusively in the US.
Other interesting state symbols, among many others, include:
- Flower: Mayflower
- Tree: American Elm
- Cat: Tabby Cat
- Bird: Chickadee
- Fish: Cod
- Insect: Two-spotted ladybeetle
- Horse: Morgan Horse
- Reptile: Eastern Garter Snake
6. Massachusetts Houses Some Scary Animals
On the more creepy, crawly side of Massachusetts facts, it may be a little frightening to know that there certainly are a few dangerous animals within the state’s borders.
The Northern Black Widow Spider can also be found in this state. It’s one of the most venomous spiders in the world, however, its bite is not necessarily fatal, leading to excruciatingly painful muscle pains and spasms.
Other wildlife to be cautious of in Massachusetts would be:
- Wasps, honeybees, hornets, bumblebees, yellow jackets.
- Blue Shark, Tiger Shark, Great White Shark.
- North American Black Bear
Some animals on the endangered list in Massachusetts include bats, whales, sea turtles, terrapins, butterflies, and moths.
The rarest animal in this state is the elusive European water shrew, found in forests and rocky streams.
And, of course, the largest animal to be found is the moose. These exquisite giant deer stand almost 7 feet tall and weigh a whopping 1,500 pounds.
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies Were Invented In Massachusetts
One of the yummiest facts about Massachusetts has got to be the creation of the ever-so-scrumptious chocolate chip cookie.
It was all invented in 1930 through a decision of improvisation when Ruth Graves Wakefield of Whitman ran out of baking chocolate while baking a batch of cookies.
She substituted the baking chocolate with chocolate pieces, expecting them to melt and create plain chocolate cookies. Say hello to America’s favorite cookies!
8. Massachusetts Boasts A Noteworthy List Of Unique Cuisine
Massachusetts is certainly no stranger to legendary homegrown foods and unique, mouth-watering hallmark dishes.
From soul-satisfying sweet treats to outstanding seafood, there is something worth tasting to whet just about any palate!
- Clam Chowder
- Grilled Blueberry muffins
- Baked Beans
- Apple Cider Doughnuts
- Cape Cod Potato Chips
- Fried Clams
- Lobster Rolls
- Baked Stuffed Scrod
- Baby Hot Dogs
- Boston Cream Pie
- The Fig Newton
9. The First Dunkin’ Donuts Was Opened In Massachusetts
The doughnut chain was opened in Quincy in 1948. If you live in Boston, you are never more than 1.5 miles away from a Dunkin’ Donuts, so much so that the residents of the state use the doughnut restaurants as landmarks when giving directions.
The restaurant’s popularity proliferated, and the company opened its 100th restaurant in 1963.
To date, there are roughly 12,900 locations in 42 countries worldwide and 350 in the state of Massachusetts alone.
10. Massachusetts Has A Rich History Of Higher Education
Among the most remarkable Massachusetts facts is that the state boasts numerous world-class colleges and internationally acclaimed universities. Some of the most reputable and respected universities in the state are:
- Harvard University– One of the most prestigious universities in the world, established in 1636.
- Boston College– A leading Jesuit university.
- Boston University– Known for excellence in scholarship and research.
- Tufts University– Provides Strong International Programs and Social Sciences.
- Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT).
11. Massachusetts Has Weird Laws
If you are serious about finding some of the weirdest fun facts about Massachusetts, then look no further than some of the state’s rather peculiar laws, such as:
- The National Anthem must be sung the whole way through. Those who stop partially through the song are liable to a fine.
- Couples may no longer live together in the same house after divorce.
- You cannot sell or deliver alcoholic beverages to hospital patients.
- Blaspheme is not permitted.
- You may not frighten or kill pigeons on purpose.
- Using tomatoes in a clam chowder dish is strictly prohibited.
- You may not put a gorilla in the backseat of your car.
- An old ordinance declares goatees (male facial hair style) illegal unless a license fee is paid.
- Snoring is prohibited unless all room windows are securely closed.
- Candy may not contain anything more than 1% alcohol.
- Christmas was outlawed in Massachusetts in 1659. In 1856, it became a public holiday.
12. Massachusetts Has Strange Museums And Landmarks
On the topic of “weird” laws and Massachusetts facts, the state also houses some bizarre and rather peculiar museums and places, such as:
The Warren Anatomical Museum, Boston
Be prepared to feast on some of the strangest collections of items, such as exploded skulls, a set of conjoined fetal skeletons, and the inhaler used in the first-ever ether-assisted surgery.
The Museum Of Bad Art, Somerville
This genuinely one-of-a-kind museum is the only one in the world that showcases some of the worst artworks ever created.
The first art piece was taken from a trash can in 1994. One of the fascinating paintings is Mona Lisa’s ugly cousin, the Mana Lisa.
Rockport Paper House, Rockport
Engineer Elis F. Stenman built this unique paper house in 1922, comprising over 100,000 varnished newspapers.
The house took 20 years to complete, and within its (paper) walls lies the most creative paper furniture, including a paper piano and a grandfather clock!
13. Thanksgiving Originated In Massachusetts
The first Thanksgiving celebration took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621, one year after the arrival of the Pilgrims into the state.
Upon their arrival, the Pilgrims realized that they needed to make peace with the local tribes, thus giving birth to the tradition of Thanksgiving.
The first-ever great feast consisted of wild turkeys and plenty of shellfish from the local seas. It was spent giving thanks for bountiful harvests and personal survival.
14. The First Ever Telephone Call Took Place In Massachusetts
Massachusetts facts include some incredible “firsts,” particularly the first-ever telephone call.
This breakthrough event occurred in Boston in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell and his office assistant Thomas Watson made history by speaking to one another on telephone receivers in separate rooms in the same house.
The words, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you,” will be forever etched in the history of Massachusetts.
15. Other Innovative Inventions From Massachusetts
On the subject of “firsts,” Massachusetts also proudly boasts of being home to a few more creative ideas and inventions, such as:
Disposable Safety Razors
Boston became the world headquarters of the Gillette Company, named after King Camp Gillette, who envisaged the idea of a disposable razor in 1895.
Earl Tupper invented Tupperware and began selling plastic containers at home parties in 1951.
The Iron Lung
Harvard developed an artificial respirator in 1927 to allow sick patients to breathe more easily while other courses of medical action were being experimented with.
16. The First Subway Was Built In Massachusetts
Boston’s subway system was constructed in 1897 and was the first ever created in America.
Presently, this Massachusetts Bay subway runs 78 miles long and has over 130 stations located in the metro area.
17. Massachusetts Has Its Own State Song
On the list of amusing fun facts about Massachusetts is the state polka song. The song became the state song in 1998 and was written by Lenny Gomulka.
The polka song is called “Say hello to someone from Massachusetts.” Go and have a listen!
18. The Rocking Horses Roadside Of Massachusetts
One of the more bizarre Massachusetts fun facts is that you will come across a quirky roadside attraction if you drive through the town of Lincoln.
You will find a strange gathering of plastic rocking horses that mysteriously appeared in 2010.
What started with just one rocking horse has multiplied so much over the years that the locals have officially named the area “Ponyhenge.”
19. Two Olympic Sports Were Invented In Massachusetts
Suppose you’re here for interesting facts about Massachusetts and are an avid sports fan.
In that case, you’ll be delighted to know that not just one but two Olympic sports originated in this state. In 1891, James Naismith from Springfield invented the game of basketball.
Naismith was pondering a new game to keep the children of New England occupied indoors during the long winter months. And so, basketball was born.
Volleyball was created in 1895. William G. Morgan had taken a real liking to basketball but was more eager to create a game catering to all ages and physical abilities.
Volleyball was initially named Mintonette. Whatever the reason for the name change, I like the sound of the name Volleyball considerably more!
Today, Massachusetts is also home to the Boston Red Sox, the most well-known and loved baseball team in the world, already the champions of nine World Series wins.
20. The Salem Witch Trials Saga Took Place In Massachusetts
Topping the list of terrifying and historical Massachusetts facts is the horrific events that took place in the town of Salem in the 17th Century.
More than 200 people (some as young as four) were accused of witchcraft and consorting with the devil.
The trials took place in Salem Village between February 1692 and May 1693. Nineteen “witches” (14 women and five men) were killed by hanging.
This event was characterized as the deadliest of all colonial North American witch trials.
21. The Great Molasses Flood Occurred In Massachusetts
One of the weirdest and sadly notable deadly disasters occurred in Boston in 1919.
Molasses is nowadays known as a sweet ingredient used in baking. Still, the sticky liquid was formerly used in alcohol production back in the 20th Century.
On January 15, 1919, a tank belonging to a Distillation company exploded, flooding the entire north end of the city with 2.5 million gallons of molasses.
This disaster claimed the lives of 21 people and injured 150 others.
22. Massachusetts Was Host To The Boston Tea Party
The infamous Boston Tea Party event is one of the more humorous Massachusetts facts. Although it may sound like a joyous occasion, it was quite the opposite.
Bostonians dumped tea from three British ships into the sea in December 1773 to protest the British tea tax.
According to several eyewitnesses, the tea party lasted roughly 3 hours and destroyed an estimated 19 million cups of tea. What a pity that no one thought to bring along any cucumber sandwiches!
23. Hauntings And Massachusetts Murders
No collection of Massachusetts facts is complete without mentioning something about ghosts or haunted places. Let’s look at two particular stories of spirits of the dead: darkness and tragedy.
The Houghton Mansion
Known as one of the scariest historical buildings in New England, this house was once the home of a former North Adams mayor, Albert Charles Houghton, in 1890.
It is believed that Houghton himself haunts the house after dying there from a car crash.
The driver also shot himself in the mansion. When visiting this place, expect to see ghostly shadows, flickering lights, and the sound of voices and loud footsteps.
The Tale Of Lizzie Borden
Lizzie Borden was put on trial in 1892 after allegedly brutally murdering her father and stepmother with an ax in their Fall River home in Massachusetts.
Lizzie’s name became known worldwide for this violent act, even though she was acquitted of the murders.
Today, it is said that the cold tapping fingers of Lizzie can be felt on one’s shoulders when visiting the Lizzie Borden house, and it is haunted by the spirits of her parents, too.
24. Massachusetts Is The Birthplace Of Presidents
Massachusetts is proudly known as the Country of Presidents. It is the pride of four US presidents, namely:
25. Massachusetts Permits Same-Sex Marriages
Massachusetts became the very first state in the US to legalize same-sex marriages in 2004, creating a path for equal marriage opportunities across the states.
This move by Massachusetts led to a national recognition of same-sex marriages in 2015.
26. Happy Hour Is Forbidden In Massachusetts
There is a stringent ban on happy hour drinks in Boston. These time-limited drinks were banned in 1984 to deter drunk driving, thus decreasing road accidents and deaths.
Interestingly enough, Massachusetts is the only state still prohibiting happy hour, so be sure to plan your pub lunches and brunch dates around this fact.
Quick Fun Facts About Massachusetts
Massachusetts is home to the Roxbury Latin School, which is the oldest school in continuous existence in North America. It was founded in 1645.
Cranberry is the State Berry of Massachusetts.
The first lighthouse established in America was on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, and was first lit on September 14, 1716.
Hey you! I hope you enjoyed learning about these fun facts about Massachusetts! Be sure to share them with your friends. Oh, and if you know some fun Massachusetts facts yourself, feel free to drop them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
- 31 Maryland Facts: Fun Facts About Maryland You Need to Know - October 13, 2023
- 26 Massachusetts Facts: Fun Facts About Massachusetts To Know - October 9, 2023
- 26 Connecticut Facts: Fun Facts About Connecticut To Read Now - October 9, 2023