85 Interesting Facts about Virginia, The Old Dominion

Virginia, often referred to as the “Old Dominion,” is a state steeped in American history and brimming with diverse landscapes. Located in the southeastern part of the United States, Virginia was one of the original 13 colonies and played a pivotal role in the formation of the nation. The state is renowned for its significant historical sites, including Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, and Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum showcasing colonial life.

Richmond, the capital of Virginia, stands as a hub of history, art, and culture. It’s home to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the American Civil War Museum, and Monument Avenue, lined with statues of Confederate and American heroes. Another historical gem is Mount Vernon, the former plantation of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

The state boasts a diverse geography, ranging from the Atlantic Ocean coastline to the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. The Chesapeake Bay, one of the largest estuaries in the world, greatly influences Virginia’s culture and economy, particularly in the Tidewater region. Virginia also houses Shenandoah National Park, known for its stunning vistas along the Skyline Drive, and the Appalachian Trail.

One of the most defining aspects of Virginia is its contribution to American democracy. The state is known as the “Mother of Presidents” as eight U.S. Presidents were born there, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Virginia’s capital, Richmond, also played a critical role during the American Civil War, hosting the Confederate capital and serving as a major battleground.

Virginia is famous for its higher education institutions, including the University of Virginia, established by Thomas Jefferson, and Virginia Tech, a prominent research university. The state hosts a thriving tech industry, especially in the Northern Virginia region, adjacent to Washington, D.C., attracting a highly educated workforce and contributing to its economic prosperity. In essence, Virginia is a state that beautifully combines its historical roots with a vision for a prosperous future.

Virginia State House in Richmond

Virginia State House in Richmond (Wikimedia)

It’s surely a good idea to look at these 85 interesting facts about Virginia to give more information about this state.

  1. First Permanent English Settlement: Jamestown, Virginia, established in 1607, was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
  2. Colonial Williamsburg: Williamsburg, Virginia, is a well-preserved 18th-century colonial town and a living history museum.
  3. Historic Triangle: Virginia’s Historic Triangle comprises Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, important sites in American colonial history.
  4. Presidential Birthplace: Virginia is the birthplace of more U.S. presidents than any other state, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.
  5. Mount Vernon: Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation home, is a major historical site in Virginia.
  6. Virginia Is for Lovers: “Virginia is for Lovers” is the state’s well-known tourism slogan.
  7. Arlington National Cemetery: Located in Arlington, Virginia, it’s the final resting place for many U.S. service members, veterans, and their families.
  8. Largest Naval Base: Norfolk, Virginia, is home to the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk.
  9. First Thanksgiving: The first English Thanksgiving in North America took place in Virginia in 1619.
  10. NASA Langley Research Center: Located in Hampton, Virginia, it played a significant role in the U.S. space program.
  11. Pocahontas: Pocahontas, the Native American woman who played a vital role in the early days of the Jamestown Colony, was from Virginia.
  12. Shenandoah National Park: Situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it offers stunning views and is a haven for hikers and nature lovers.
  13. Booker T. Washington: The educator and civil rights leader, Booker T. Washington, was born in Hale’s Ford, Virginia.
  14. Astronauts Galore: More astronauts are from Virginia than any other state.
  15. Blue Ridge Parkway: This scenic highway, often dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive,” winds through Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
  16. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: It’s a 23-mile-long bridge-tunnel complex connecting Virginia’s Eastern Shore with the mainland.
  17. State Insect: The Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly is the official state insect of Virginia.
  18. State Dance: Square dancing is Virginia’s official state dance.
  19. First Women’s College: The first women’s college in the United States, Sweet Briar College, was founded in Virginia in 1901.
  20. Busiest U.S. Airport: Dulles International Airport in Virginia is one of the busiest airports in the United States.
  21. Arlington House: Robert E. Lee’s former home, Arlington House, is located in Arlington, Virginia.
  22. Chincoteague Ponies: Chincoteague Island is famous for its wild ponies.
  23. Birthplace of Country Music: The first country music performance was in Bristol, Virginia, in 1927.
  24. Richmond Folk Festival: It’s one of the largest, most celebrated folk festivals in the United States.
  25. First Commercial Peanut Crop: The first commercial peanut crop was grown in Sussex County, Virginia.
  26. Jefferson’s Monticello: Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  27. Luray Caverns: These stunning caverns in the Shenandoah Valley are known for their stalactite and stalagmite formations.
  28. NASCAR: Martinsville Speedway in Virginia is one of the oldest NASCAR race tracks.
  29. Virginia’s Flag: Virginia’s state flag has a deep historical connection, with the design based on the state seal.
  30. College of William & Mary: It is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
  31. National D-Day Memorial: Bedford, Virginia, is home to the National D-Day Memorial honoring the heroes of D-Day during World War II.
  32. Unique State: Virginia is the only U.S. state with the nickname “Commonwealth.”
  33. Shirley Plantation: The Shirley Plantation in Charles City County is the oldest family-owned business in North America.
  34. First Thanksgiving: The first official Thanksgiving in the United States was held in Virginia in 1619.
  35. State Slogan: “Virginia is for Lovers” has been Virginia’s tourism slogan since 1969.
  36. Peanut Capital of the World: Suffolk, Virginia, is often referred to as the “Peanut Capital of the World.”
  37. Appomattox Court House: The surrender of General Robert E. Lee to General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War, took place in Appomattox, Virginia.
  38. Blue Crab: The blue crab is a significant part of Virginia’s seafood industry.
  39. First Brewery: The first commercial brewery in America was established in Virginia in 1587.
  40. Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway: Part of this essential inland waterway system runs through Virginia.
  41. State Dog: The American Foxhound is the official state dog of Virginia.
  42. Arlington: Arlington County was originally part of Washington, D.C., but was returned to Virginia in 1846.
  43. State Shell: The Eastern Oyster shell is Virginia’s official state shell.
  44. Birthplace of Aviation: Virginia is the birthplace of American aviation, with the Wright brothers’ first successful flight occurring in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but they were from Virginia.
  45. Popcorn Capital: Approximately 30% of the United States’ popcorn production comes from Virginia.
  46. First Peanuts in the U.S.: Peanuts were first grown in the United States in Virginia.
  47. State Tree: The flowering dogwood is Virginia’s official state tree.
  48. State Flower: The American Dogwood is Virginia’s official state flower.
  49. Langley: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is headquartered in Langley, Virginia.
  50. State Fish: The Brook Trout is Virginia’s official state freshwater fish.
  51. Great Dismal Swamp: It’s a vast marshy area in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.
  52. Natural Bridge: A notable geological formation, often called one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
  53. Busiest Amtrak Station: Union Station in Washington, D.C., which serves Virginia, is the busiest Amtrak station in the United States.
  54. State Song: “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” is Virginia’s state song.
  55. State Fossil: The Chesapecten Jeffersonius is Virginia’s official state fossil.
  56. George Washington’s Teeth: Contrary to popular belief, George Washington’s teeth were not made of wood; they were made of various materials, including ivory and human teeth.
  57. The Pentagon: The Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, is located in Arlington, Virginia.
  58. Oldest Legislative Body: The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous legislative body in the New World.
  59. State Motto: Virginia’s state motto is “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” meaning “Thus Always to Tyrants.”
  60. State Bat: The Virginia Big-Eared Bat is Virginia’s official state bat.
  61. Smithfield Ham: Smithfield, Virginia, is famous for its ham.
  62. State Bird: The Northern Cardinal is Virginia’s official state bird.
  63. Longest Continuously Running Theatre: The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, is the longest continuously running professional theatre in the United States.
  64. State Capital: Richmond, Virginia’s capital, was also the capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
  65. State Invertebrate: The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly is Virginia’s official state insect.
  66. State Beverage: The official state beverage of Virginia is milk.
  67. Northern Virginia Community College: NVCC is one of the largest community colleges in the United States, serving Northern Virginia.
  68. University of Virginia: Founded by Thomas Jefferson, it is a prestigious public research university and one of the original Public Ivy institutions.
  69. Virginia Union University: A historically black university, VUU is a private university based in Richmond, Virginia.
  70. Virginia Commonwealth University: VCU is a major public research university with a strong emphasis on arts and sciences, located in Richmond.
  71. Virginia State University: Established in 1882, VSU is a historically black land-grant university in Ettrick, Virginia.
  72. Virginia Tech, officially known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, is a prominent public research university located in Blacksburg, Virginia. Established in 1872, it is renowned for its rigorous academic programs and its commitment to technology, engineering, and applied sciences.
  73. Washington and Lee University: Founded in 1749, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the United States, located in Lexington, Virginia.
  74. University of Richmond: UR is a private liberal arts university known for its rigorous academics, beautiful campus, and diverse student body.
  75. Radford University: A public university in Radford, Virginia, known for its strong undergraduate programs.
  76. Old Dominion University: ODU is a public research university in Norfolk, Virginia, known for its emphasis on research and technology.
  77. Norfolk State University: NSU is a historically black public university in Norfolk, Virginia, known for its strong emphasis on community engagement and research.
  78. Liberty University: Established by Jerry Falwell Sr., it is a private evangelical Christian university known for its conservative values.
  79. James Madison University: JMU is a public research university in Harrisonburg, Virginia, known for its business, health, and teaching programs.
  80. Hollins University: A private women’s liberal arts university in Roanoke, Virginia, known for its strong creative writing program.
  81. George Mason University: GMU is a public research university in Fairfax, Virginia, known for its economics and law programs.
  82. Hampton University: Established in 1868, Hampton is a private historically black university in Hampton, Virginia, known for its emphasis on African-American history and culture.
  83. The Chesapeake Bay: The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States.
  84. Appalachian Trail: The Appalachian Trail passes through Virginia, offering some of the best hiking experiences in the state.
  85. State Rock: The Nelsonite rock is Virginia’s official state rock.

Virginia, with its rich historical tapestry, natural beauty, and diverse cultural heritage, stands as a testament to the American experience. From the hallowed halls of the University of Virginia, founded by a Founding Father, to the bustling campuses of Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University, this state is a cradle of knowledge and innovation. The echoes of history resonate through landmarks like Colonial Williamsburg and the somber beauty of Arlington National Cemetery, reminding all of the profound role Virginia has played in shaping the nation. As the Old Dominion state, Virginia holds a unique position, cherishing its past while evolving toward a bright future through education, research, and a commitment to progress.

In the embrace of Virginia’s rolling Blue Ridge Mountains and the tranquil shores of the Chesapeake Bay, one finds a deep-rooted appreciation for nature’s wonder. The state’s landscapes, from the verdant Shenandoah Valley to the Atlantic coast, are a canvas for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Virginia’s charm isn’t confined to its scenery; it’s also found in the warmth of its people, the flavors of its cuisine, and the vivacity of its arts and festivals. The spirit of Virginia embodies a blend of heritage, innovation, and the celebration of a diverse community. It beckons visitors and residents alike to discover its unique blend of history, education, and natural beauty that sets it apart as a true gem of the American South.

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