50 Facts About Massachusetts State You Should Know

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Tall modern buildings surrounded by roads and greenery under a partly cloudy sky
Massachusetts is a small state with interesting facts and fun places like, Boston

How many facts about Massachusetts State do you know? There's more to this state than what you know from history books, ranging from the weird to the trivial.

You might probably know it was one of the original 13 colonies in the United States, for one. However, did you know that Massachusetts is the "Baked Bean State"? And that the first lighthouse in the United States was built here?

By the time you're done with this list, you'll find yourself planning your trip to MA. Here are 50 facts about Massachusetts State you should know!

  • 50 Massachusetts facts

50 Massachusetts State Facts

  1. Fun Facts About Massachusetts
    1. Massachusetts is the "Bay State"
    2. It's the site of the first Thanksgiving
    3. Paul Revere took his famous ride here
    4. Boston Common was the first public park
    5. The first subway system in the US is here
    6. Alexander Graham Bell lived in Boston
    7. Boston had the first telephone
    8. James Naismith brought us basketball
    9. Harvard University is the oldest US university
    10. It's the most populated New England state
    11. The Blue Hills Reservation covers six counties
    12. Boston Harbor is a major US port
    13. The Boston Tea Party changed history
    14. There are two state birds
    15. Its motto is "ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem"
  2. Interesting Facts About Massachusetts
    1. The chocolate chip cookie is a state symbol
    2. The Pilgrims first landed here
    3. It's had a state seal since 1775
    4. You'll keep hearing "All Hail to Massachusetts" here
    5. There are 150 state parks
    6. Keep an eye out for the right whale
    7. The Morgan horse is a symbol
    8. Boston had the first post office
    9. You can create your own Massachusetts state slogan
    10. Atlantic cod is a Massachusetts state symbol
  3. Cool Facts About Massachusetts
    1. The state invented the Fig Newton
    2. MA is the "Baked Bean State"
    3. There are five land borders
    4. Dunkin Donuts was founded in the state
    5. Rhodonite is found here
  4. Important Facts About Massachusetts
    1. Colonist John Smith helped create America
    2. Boston is the most important city
    3. It borders the Atlantic Ocean
    4. The Native Americans taught survival
    5. It became the sixth state
  5. Historical Facts About Massachusetts
    1. A trading post was started here in 1602
    2. The Salem Witch Trials were here
    3. Massachusetts has the first lighthouse in the country
    4. There's a house made of paper
    5. The name comes from a company
  6. Weird Facts About Massachusetts
    1. The Mayflower isn't just a boat
    2. The American elm is commemorative
    3. It has the lake with the longest name
    4. It has a mysterious rocking horse collection
    5. Boston had the first chocolate factory
  7. Scary Facts About Massachusetts
    1. Lizzie Borden lived here
    2. A home is haunted by witches
    3. The Boston Athenaeum has a spooky book
    4. The USS Salem is haunted
    5. America's most haunted forest is in this state

Show all

Fun Facts About Massachusetts

A walkway to a round neoclassical monument surrounded by green grass
The first public park in the United States is in Boston, Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the "Bay State"

First on this list of fun facts on Massachusetts is that it's also called the "Bay State." This Massachusetts State nickname has historic roots.

Plymouth Rock, where the pilgrims landed, was actually in modern-day Cape Cod. As one of the most historically important bays in the United States, it gave the state its nickname.

It's the site of the first Thanksgiving

After a long, cold winter in 1620, the pilgrims' life in the New World seemed bleak. With the help of the Wampanoag Native Americans, they were able to farm and have enough food to last through the cold months.

In celebration, the pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving in 1621 to show their gratitude. It wouldn't become an annual tradition for years, but you can still visit a shrine to commemorate the first Thanksgiving.

Paul Revere took his famous ride here

In 1775, rebellion against Britain was in full swing in North America. To alert that British troops were arriving, a messaging system was put in place. It involved riders carrying important news to major cities.

On April 18 of that year, Paul Revere took his famous ride to alert the citizens of Boston that soldiers were approaching the city. Though he was one of many riders, Revere's stretch became the most commonly known.

A walkway surrounded by greenery and flowers, with a statue of a horse-rider
Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States

Boston Common was the first public park

Founded in 1634, Boston Common is the oldest public park in the country. Throughout its history, this park has held numerous historic events.

The right to free speech and protest were exercised within the park from the American Revolution to the Vietnam War. Today, it's also a popular spot for walks, picnics, and other public events.

A white and red train on a subway station against tall concrete buildings
The United States has had a subway system in place since 1895 in Boston

The first subway system in the US is here

It can be hard to think of a time before subway systems. Especially since the US has had a subway system in place since 1895.

The first subway line in the country was in Boston. The line was only 1.5 miles long and initially used trams and trolleys before the first subway cars were invented.

Alexander Graham Bell lived in Boston

Alexander Graham Bell was originally from Scotland. He moved to Canada in 1870 and then to the US the following year.

Soon after moving to the United States, he settled in Boston where he lived for several years as a teacher and inventor. Some of his most important innovations occurred in the city.

Boston had the first telephone

One of the most interesting facts on Massachusetts is that it was the home of the first telephone. That's unsurprising if you consider that Alexander Graham Bell lived in the state for multiple years.

The first telephone call took place on March 10, 1876. Bell used his telephone invention to call his assistant in the next room.

James Naismith brought us basketball

Not many people know who James Naismith is, but he was an important figure in sports history. He was a coach, doctor, and physical education teacher who moved to Massachusetts in 1890.

In 1891, he invented the game of basketball to teach his students. While he kept teaching, the sport slowly gained popularity. Just over a decade after it was first taught, basketball was demonstrated at the 1904 Olympics.

VladimirDrozdin/Depositphotos.com
A walkway between greenery and trees to a red and white university building
Multiple historians claim that Harvard was the first university of the United States

Harvard University is the oldest US university

Harvard is not only one of the most prestigious universities in the country, but it's also one of the oldest. The school has been teaching students since 1636.

Both Harvard and multiple historians have even claimed that it was the first university in the country. In any case, it's the oldest continuously operational college in North America.

It's the most populated New England state

New England is a region of the US that's made up of six of the original 13 colonies in the country. Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island all comprise this area.

Of these states, Massachusetts has the largest population. Just over 7 million people call it home. In comparison, Vermont is the least populated state with only 643,077 residents.

The Blue Hills Reservation covers six counties

Blue Hills Reservation is a state park just outside of the Greater Boston area. The park is 7000 acres of land that stretches across six counties.

The reservation isn't just an important part of Massachusetts' history, but of the country as a whole. The hills were created over 440 million years ago. According to geologists, a volcano used to be active in the area, creating the landscape.

A red brick pavement on a waterfront with benches lined up overlooking the water
Boston Harbor is one of the most important ports in the country

Boston Harbor is a major US port

You can find the Port of Boston in Boston Harbor. While it's not well-known, this port is one of the most important in the country. Many boats that cross the Atlantic stop at this port to deliver or pick up shipments.

Many people likely believe this harbor is the site of the Boston Tea Party. That's not the case. The original place where this important part of American history took place was destroyed long ago.

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A building on the edge of a harbour with a boat moored near by
The Boston Tea Party Museum preserves and retells this historic event

The Boston Tea Party changed history

One of the most important Massachusetts history facts is that it was the site of the Boston Tea Party. In 1773, Boston residents donned disguises and boarded a British ship to dump its tea shipment into the water.

This was a way to protest rising taxes that unfairly burdened citizens in the British Colonies in what is today the US. It can be seen as the first major step that led to the Revolutionary War.

A bird with black feathers on its head and white and gray feathers on its body
The official state bird named in 1941, the black-capped chickadee on a branch

There are two state birds

If you want to look up the official Massachusetts state bird, you'll find two answers. Officially, this title goes to the Black-Capped Chickadee, which was named the state bird in 1941.

Unofficially, you'll find many people refer to the wild turkey as the state bird. This answer became so popular that in 1991, a new subcategory was created. The turkey was then named the official state game bird.

Its motto is "ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem"

If you look at the Massachusetts State flag, you'll see the words "ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem." That phrase means "by the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty."

The Massachusetts State motto has historic roots. Though the original Latin can date back to 1660, it was adopted by the state in 1775. This year was in the middle of the war for American independence.

Interesting Facts About Massachusetts

Massachusetts having 150 state parks is one of the facts about Massachusetts state
One of the facts about Massachusetts state is that it has 150 state parks

Chocolate chip cookies are a classic treat that's beloved around the world. Next time you bite into one, you can send a little thanks to Massachusetts.

Ruth Wakefield invented this cookie in Whitman in the 1930s. It became so popular, she put the recipe in her 1938 cookbook. Years later, it would become the official state cookie.

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A gray neoclassical monument with columns against the water with white boats
The Pilgrims first landed on Plymouth Rock after fleeing England

The Pilgrims first landed here

The Pilgrims first landed on Plymouth Rock after fleeing England. What some people don't know is that Plymouth is in modern-day Massachusetts.

More specifically, the Pilgrims landed on Cape Cod. Once historians were able to pinpoint where along the coast the Mayflower landed, the Cape Cod National Seashore monument was declared.

It's had a state seal since 1775

The Massachusetts State seal is one of the oldest in the country. The original design can be traced to 1775 before the US was officially its own country.

In fact, at that time it was called the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The design was reaffirmed in 1780 and was altered to its present-day version in 1900.

You'll keep hearing "All Hail to Massachusetts" here

If you want to learn some fun facts for Massachusetts, you should look up "All Hail to Massachusetts." It was first written in 1954 by Arthur James Marsh.

In 1966, it became the official Massachusetts State song. If you're in the state for any official events or holidays, you might hear it play.

A view of trees in autumn with brown and orange leaves
The view of the forest from a lookout at Mount Greylock State Reservation

There are 150 state parks

If you're a nature lover, you'll enjoy learning about Massachusetts state parks. There are over 150 parks spread around the state's territory.

Surprisingly, it's one of the states with the most state parks to its name. They also vary in type. You can find beaches, lakes, forests, and mountains that are state-protected areas.

Keep an eye out for the right whale

If you want to see the Massachusetts State mammal, you'll have to head to the coast. The right whale got its name because it was one of the easier species to hunt since it swims slowly.

Whaling is no longer allowed in the US. As such, these whales have seen a growth in their population after being near extinction for decades. In 1980, it was officially declared the state mammal.

The Morgan horse is a symbol

The Right Whale is the state mammal, but a land mammal still represents the state. The official Massachusetts state animal is the Morgan horse.

This horse breed is one of the most historic in the country. While there were horses already in the states when colonists arrived, many were considered wild. The Morgan horse was one of the first "domesticated" breeds in the country.

Boston had the first post office

The postal service is one of the longest-running US services in the country. It even pre-dates the Declaration of Independence.

In 1639, the first post office was opened in Boston. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts had declared a tavern a post office due to its popularity. It's no longer operational, but you can still visit the area where it stood.

You can create your own Massachusetts state slogan

You've already seen that Massachusetts has an official motto on the state seal. However, the state's residents enjoy coming up with new slogans as well.

A few favorites among Massachusetts' citizens are: "Massachusetts: Hard to spell, impossible to beat." "Massachusetts: Say hi to your motha' for us," and "Massachusetts: Oncoming traffic yields at rotaries."

Atlantic cod is a Massachusetts state symbol

Many lists of state facts about Massachusetts never mention that there's an official Massachusetts state fish. The Atlantic cod is commonly found in the water around the state's coast.

The fish has seen a drop in its numbers since they were often fished commercially. Though you can find them all year, they do tend to migrate, depending on the season.

Cool Facts About Massachusetts

A steel bridge against a skyline of tall concrete buildings
Massachusetts has the second largest population within its five bordering states

The state invented the Fig Newton

Massachusetts is no stranger to inventing sweet treats that became popular nationwide. In 1891, the F. A. Kennedy Steam Bakery in Massachusetts made the first batch of Fig Newtons.

The cookie is named after the city of Newton, Massachusetts. Though initially filled with a variety of fruit fillings, the fig version is the most popular and became synonymous with the brand.

MA is the "Baked Bean State"

In 1993, Massachusetts named the baked navy bean the official state bean. This is, in part, thanks to the famous Boston baked beans. The state's history with beans goes back much further than that.

Pilgrims often prepared and ate this simple food with bread and potatoes. This was a particularly popular Sunday food. It's because it could be prepared ahead of time, as no chores were to be done on Sunday.

There are five land borders

As part of New England, Massachusetts has many land borders, despite its relatively small territory. It shares land with five other US states.

Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut all border the state. Of these states, Massachusetts has the second largest population, only beaten by New York.

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The entrance way to a Dunkin' Donuts on an inner city street
A Dunkin' Donuts in downtown Massachusetts

Dunkin Donuts was founded in the state

Dunkin Donuts can be found in every state in the continental US. The first shop was opened in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1948.

Initially, it was called Open Kettle. You could buy coffee, donuts, sandwiches, and other types of pastries. When it was noticed that most of the shop's revenue came from coffee and donuts, the name and business were changed.

Rhodonite is found here

Even residents don't know the Massachusetts state gem. Rhodonite is a pink-colored gem that has been found in the area.

Though other gems can be found in the territory, its particular popularity made Rhodonite a state symbol in 1979. You can find the gem used in jewelry and artwork by local artists.

Important Facts About Massachusetts

Tall skyscrapers overlooking the blue water with multi-color boats
Boston is the capital of Massachusetts State

Colonist John Smith helped create America

John Smith was an English soldier and explorer who traveled to the New World in the early 1600s. Though not often referenced as a Founding Father, he helped develop settlements in the Americas.

He helped to settle the first permanent colonies in New England. Between 1607 and 1614, Smith traveled around the region, including in today's Massachusetts.

Boston is the most important city

One piece of information on Massachusetts most people know is its capital. Boston has the honor of being the capital of Massachusetts State.

Boston was the setting of many events that helped shape America's history. The Founding Fathers met within the city's limits. The first acts of rebellion against the British occurred there as well.

It borders the Atlantic Ocean

Massachusetts might have five land borders, but it's not a land-locked state. It also has a stretch of coast on the Atlantic Ocean, which is how the Pilgrims landed here.

The state also borders the Gulf of Maine. Its coast and beaches have helped the state earn its nickname of the "Bay State."

The Native Americans taught survival

When the Pilgrims first landed in Massachusetts, they were unprepared for the harsh weather. In the first year, many who came from England lost their lives.

The Wampanoag Native Americans helped keep the Pilgrims' journey from being completely fruitless. The tribe taught the new English settlers how to plant and harvest crops in the Americas so they could survive the next winter.

It became the sixth state

Though Massachusetts was home to some pivotal moments of the Revolutionary War, it wasn't the first state in the Union. It actually wouldn't become a ratified state until 1788.

It was the sixth state to join the new country. That is, in part, due to Massachusetts retaining its commonwealth title. Even today, that is the state's official name.

Historical Facts About Massachusetts

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A downtown skyline of tall buildings, surrounded by trees, overlooking the water
The word "Massachusetts" comes from a company called the Massachusetts Bay Company

A trading post was started here in 1602

Long before the Plymouth Colony was settled in 1620, explorers were no strangers to the Massachusetts territory. In 1602, a trading post was established in the area.

After first landing in Maine, British explorers made their way south to what is today Cape Cod. Though it would be decades before a permanent settlement was established, this trading post marked the initial exploration of the future state.

The Salem Witch Trials were here

Between 1692 and 1693, Massachusetts was a scary place to live in if you stood out too much. During this time, the famed Salem Witch Trials took place.

Over 200 people were accused of being witches, many of whom were subsequently killed during or after their trials. Though it was a dark part of early American history, many people flock to the state every October because of it!

A white lighthouse on a rocky shore overlooking the water with a white boat
The Boston Light was built in 1716 and has been continuously operating since then

Massachusetts has the first lighthouse in the country

A little-known part of Massachusetts facts and history is that it's the home of the first-ever US lighthouse. The Boston Light has long helped guide ships to the Boston Harbor.

The lighthouse was first built in 1716 and has been continuously operating since then. Today, it's not just a lighthouse, but also a national monument.

There's a house made of paper

Rockport is a small town on the Massachusetts coast. It's also home to a unique landmark.

The Paper House is aptly named because that's what it's made of. Elis F. Stenman set out to create a home made entirely of paper in 1922. The project was a hobby that led to paper-constructed furniture as well.

The name comes from a company

The word "Massachusetts" comes from a Native American tribe that John Smith encountered during his explorations. However, that's not how the state got its name.

Shortly after permanent colonization began, shipping companies started to carry supplies to and from the New World. One company was called the Massachusetts Bay Company, which operated out of the modern-day state and gave it its name.

Weird Facts About Massachusetts

Tall concrete buildings overlooking a road with cars parked on each side
The first company in the United States to produce chocolate was in Boston

The Mayflower isn't just a boat

Mayflower is the ship that carried the Pilgrims across the ocean. It's also the name of the Massachusetts state flower.

The Mayflower is also called the ground laurel and has been a state symbol since 1893. The flower grows all over New England, but it was selected due to it being the namesake of the boat that brought some of the original US Colonists.

The American elm is commemorative

You might not know that there's a Massachusetts state tree. It grows all over the country, but it became an official state symbol in 1941.

The tree was selected to symbolize history. George Washington became the leader of the Continental Army beneath an elm tree in 1775. Thus efforts have been made to preserve it.

It has the lake with the longest name

If you visit Massachusetts, you'll have a chance to see the lake with the longest name. Longest not just in the country but in the world. While locals call it Webster Lake, that's not the official name.

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg comes from the Nipmuck language. It means "English knifemen and Nipmuck Indians at the boundary or neutral fishing place."

It has a mysterious rocking horse collection

One of the most interesting facts on Massachusetts is also an interactive one. There are many national landmarks in the state, but you likely won't find Ponyhenge on that list.

In Lincoln, MA, you'll find a clearing that has become a mysterious attraction, even for locals. Dozens of rocking horses of various sizes are arranged in a circle, reminiscent of Stonehenge in England.

Boston had the first chocolate factory

While Pennsylvania has become synonymous with chocolate in the United States, that's not where the first factory was. The first company in the US to produce chocolate was in Boston.

Walter Baker & Company was founded in the late 1700s and was in operation until 1995. The company is still around to this day, making it the oldest American chocolate company.

Scary Facts About Massachusetts

A walkway between green grass to a black vernacular house
The Salem Witch Trials took place in Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693

Lizzie Borden lived here

Though she has become something of a legend, Lizzie Borden was a very real woman. She lived in Fall River with her mother and father her whole life.

Lizzie was a run-of-the-mill woman until the mysterious murder of her father and stepmother in 1892. She wasn't charged with the crime, but many suspect she was the culprit.

A home is haunted by witches

Though Salem, Massachusetts is still a thriving little town, not many of its original structures remain. The Witch House is an exception.

It was the home of Judge Corwin, who oversaw many of the witch trials in the town during the late 1600s. Many believe the home is haunted by some of the men and women who were tried.

The Boston Athenaeum has a spooky book

There are many reasons to visit the Boston Athenaeum. It's one of the oldest independent libraries in the country. It also has an interesting collection of books that it's acquired since it opened in 1807.

Easily the creepiest book in the library is the "Skin Book." The book is a memoir of James Allen, a convicted criminal. His final wish was that his biography be printed in a book and bound with his flesh.

The USS Salem is haunted

The USS Salem is a decommissioned navy cruiser that served in World War II. Today it's a museum that you can visit in Quincy.

Due to its history in active service, many visitors think the ship is haunted. You can even take a five-hour-long haunted tour of the ship on select nights.

America's most haunted forest is in this state

You might debate whether this is one of the scariest or most fun facts for Massachusetts, but you can find a haunted forest here. The Freetown-Fall River State Forest may seem like a normal public forest, but strange sightings have occurred here.

Covering over 5000 acres of land, the forest has trails for hiking and horse riding, and it's a popular place for day visits. However, there are also many legends of ghost sightings, witch activity, and other paranormal events that surround the woods.

In Summary

Were you surprised by any of these facts? This state is a history buff's dream, but there are so many other interesting things worth learning about the state.

Believe it or not, this list just scratches the surface of all things Massachusetts. Hopefully, it's inspired you to learn more about the Puritan State and even plan a trip to get the full experience!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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