When other states like California, Washington, and New York hogging the spotlight, not many people know as much about other states, like Maryland, often dubbed the Old Line State. The truth is, the jewel of the Mid-Atlantic is a highly interesting destination for multiple reasons. In addition to it being the home of Frank Zappa, here are six more facts about Maryland.
1. The Bloodiest Day in U.S History
Without a doubt, this is a strong fact to start with, and a rather gloomy one. However, it does have quite the significance, being an essential part of American history and the Civil War. On the 17th of September 1862, the battle of Antietam took place in the area near Antietam Creek and Sharpsburg, Maryland. As for the casualties, they reached over 22,000 deaths and injuries. Earlier, on the 4th of September, Confederate General Robert Lee started his crawl towards Maryland, except that he also wanted to seize control of the Union garrison in Harpers Ferry.
As a result, Confederate General Lee decided to split his army to achieve both goals. On one hand, the battle of Harpers Ferry ended in victory for the Confederate army. However, this divide gave the Union Army of the Potomac a great tactical advantage. The Battle of Antietam itself started around dawn close to Dunker Church – still there to this day – with a Union army attack. While the Confederate army was grossly outnumbered, and they had also managed to sustain a lot of damage, the Union army was operating under the assumption that they, too, were outnumbered. Eventually, the battle ended with a draw as Confederate General Lee’s army retreated back to Virginia. If you’re going to Maryland, be sure to take time out of your stay and walk the paths of these men.
2. The Official Sports
Did you know that, for some states, there’s an official state sport? Did you know that Maryland was the first state to start that trend? In 1962, jousting was made the official state sport of Maryland after being practiced ever since colonial times. Years after, in October 2004, lacrosse was named the official team sport of the state which only makes sense owing to the history of the sport. Before the state was built, the land was inhabited by several Native American tribes, including the Algonquin, Iroquois, and Sioux. As for lacrosse, it was a commonly practiced sport among the tribes. Gradually, English-speaking Canadians started getting into the game. From there, the game’s popularity grew among non-Natives and the modern variations of lacrosse took their form.
3. Ocean City Boardwalk
If you like taking long walks and all things kitschy, you’ll love the Ocean City boardwalk. Not just that, but if you’re a sucker for a good beach, too. The boardwalk stretches for about three miles where on your one hand, you’ll find a spread of golden sands leading up to the Atlantic Ocean. On your other hand, you’ll find an array of things to do in Maryland, from the bars and restaurants to the souvenir shops and, most importantly, what makes a boardwalk complete, the amusement parks. Whether you’re visiting with family or friends or even alone, you’re guaranteed to have a good time wandering around the area. Needless to say, the stores follow their own schedules, but the boardwalk itself is open all day long.
Here are just a few things you should know about Maryland’s Ocean City Boardwalk:
- There is a hand-carved carousel at Trimper’s Rides in this area, which is over a century old; it measures around 50 feet in height and is among the oldest operating carousels in the whole country. There are more than 45 wooden chariots and animals on this carousel, all hand-carved with meticulous precision
- Before Ocean City, this area was dubbed “The Lady’s Resort to the Ocean”, a reference to the popularity of the place for girls’ trips
- This is also the birthplace of Prescription No. 22: Noxzema®; the result of an original formula invented by Dr. Francis J. Townsend for the purpose of treating windburn and sunburn
- It is a cicada –free zone, as the bugs don’t like the sandy soil environment
- It is also known as the “White Marlin Capital of the World”, based on when the largest single-day catch of 171 white marlin were caught on July 29th, 1939. Based on this piece of history, Ocean City has hosted a yearly White Marlin Open for more than 40 years.
4. The Ghost Fleet
There is no more fitting name for a ship graveyard than Mallows bay. As for the ships resting in and above its waters, they’re known as the ghost fleet, but what’s the story behind the shipwreck? During the first world war, the U.S government commissioned the Emergency Fleet Corporation to build and collect ships in order to contribute to the war effort. Due to the board’s belief that steel as a resource won’t be able to keep up with their demand, they decided to build their fleet using lumber, instead. The decision to build wooden ships was met with a lot of opposition, yet the manufacturing continued.
After the first hundred or so ships were constructed, it so happened that Germany had surrendered. This meant the end of the war, and the ships were repurposed to be part of the States’ merchant fleet. It was only two years after, in 1920 when the ships proved useless. Not only did the ships not never see the war, but most of them ended up getting scrapped and set aflame in Mallows Bay. Now, you can still see significant parts of the shipwreck above water, and if you take a canoe or a kayak, you can paddle your way through the remains of the ghost fleet.
5. Chevy Chase
It doesn’t matter if you know him as Clark Griswald from the National Lampoon series or as Fletch from the 1985 movie with the same name or even as Pierce from Community, you’ll want to keep on reading. While, unfortunately, it is by no means related to the movie star, there is a town in Maryland named Chevy Chase which could make for a fun story. Although, there’s a lot more to this town than just a name. Up until 1948, it was one of a number of sundown towns in Maryland. Meaning, in addition to being discriminated against by residents and local laws, non-whites weren’t allowed to remain in the town after sundown.
Fortunately, the town is now also know for better things, including being called ‘the most educated town in America’ at one point. It’s also a place where you can safely walk around, enjoy the greenery on the streets. Overall, residents and visitors alike love the relaxed vibe you get from Chevy Chase. The town is just a stone’s throw from places like Friendship Heights, which is a popular shopping district. If you plan on visiting Maryland anytime soon, Chevy Chase might be a good place to unwind and relax after a tiring journey.
6. Half-and-Half Climate
Who knew that one state can have it all in terms of climate? If you look at the northwestern half of Maryland, you’ll find that the winters are harsh and the snowfall can get as thick as 21 inches. As you move to the west of the state, you’ll notice a significant increase in humidity. On the contrary, East Maryland has a subtropical climate which means hot, humid summers and moderately cold winters. Because the entire state is prone to tropical cyclones and because storm season is real there, it’s highly recommended that you check the weather before you book your trip.
According to online statistics, it seems like the most pleasant months to experience in Maryland are May, June, and September. The least comfortable time to visit will most probably be January and February.
As you see, the state of Maryland is full of history and wonderful attractions, making it one of the ultimate vacation destinations. If you want to seek out moments of isolation with nature, get a glimpse into the past, or have a fun, relaxing time at a hotel overlooking the ocean, you know the place to go. Not to mention, if you love wild horses, then taking a trip up there is mandatory.