Rhode Island State Symbols
Rhode Island Reds, Hope, Cumberlandite, and Other RI State Symbols
Are you working on a school project where you need to know the Rhode Island State Bird (the Rhode Island Red chicken) or RI’s state motto (“Hope”)? Do you need some pictures of some famous Rhode Island locations or maybe famous Rhode Islanders? How about articles about interesting Rhode Island history? Here’s a page that will provide some of what you need, and you’ll find the rest in other articles in Rhode Island Roads magazine.
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States. Rhode Island (pronounced “Road Island”) is part of the New England region, and was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. Although it is the smallest state in area, it has the longest name; the official name is the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”, Providence Plantations referring to the mainland portion of the state which was originally all part of the town of Providence and “Rhode Island” referring to Aquidneck Island on which Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth are located.
Rhode Island is bordered on the north and east by Massachusetts, on the west by Connecticut, on the southwest by New York (sea border), and on the south by Rhode Island Sound and the North Atlantic Ocean. Narragansett Bay is a major feature of the state’s topography. Block Island lies off the southern coast.
Rhode Island State Flag
The Rhode Island state flag is a white flag with an anchor, the state motto “Hope” and thirteen stars. The stars represent the thirteen original states of the United States. The anchor symbolizes the ties that sailors have to their home. The state motto, “Hope”, is the watchword for all sailors — the hope of reaching their destination and the hope of a fruitful voyage.
Rhode Island State Bird
The RI state bird is a chicken. Not just any chicken, the “Rhode Island Red”, a chicken with bright red-orange feathers varying brown toward black. The colors of the roosters are a bit more vivid, but even the hen is red, (and they lay brown eggs).
Here’s an intersting story about the the old wooden warship, the USS Saratoga. During a naval battle in 1814, a Rhode Island red rooster’s cage was destroyed by a cannonball. The rooster flew up to the top of the ship’s mast and crowed loudly, rallying the sailors aboard the ship and urging them to victory. The modern aircraft carrier USS Saratogais retired and is now docked in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay.
Rhode Island State Nickname
Rhode Island has two state nicknames, one official and one unofficial. Officially, Rhode Island is “The Ocean State”. This nickname comes from two things, the first is the state’s sailing heritage, the second is the fact that a large bay, Narragansett Bay, splits the state in half, putting no part of the state more than 30 miles from saltwater. The unoffical nickname is “Little Rhody”, referring to the fact that Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US, measuring only 1545 square miles.
Official RI State Rock
Cumberlandite, the Rhode Island State Rock, is a heavy, iron-bearing rock that exists only in northern Rhode Island. It is black with white crystals and contains so much iron that it is attracted by magnets. Cannon balls were made from Cumberlandite during the Revolutionary War.
RI State Mineral
Bowenite, a light green jade-like stone is formed in tiny pockets of limestone in Rhode Island. Sadly, there is very little limestone, the original layers of limestone were worn away by glaciers aeons ago. If you visit Rhode Island, your best chance to find Bowenite is to look for quartz pebbles that have a green tint among the rocks.
RI State Flower
Violets (Viola sororia) are the Official Rhode Island State flower. They grow wild in Rhode Island to the point that many gardeners treat them like weeds.
RI State Tree
The red maple is the official Rhode Island State Tree. The leaves are red all year around! Maple trees grow well in Rhode Island and a variety of maple trees called “sugar maples” are used to make maple syrup. It’s also possible to get sap from red maples and many other trees to make syrup, but they don’t work quite as well. The Rhode Island State Tree’s scientific name is Acer rubrum
RI State Drink
A state drink? Yes! It’s coffee milk, sort of like chocolate milk but made with coffee flavoring instead of chocolate flavoring. We have an article about it in RIRoads magazine that you can read here.
RI State Shell
The shell of the quahog clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) is the official Rhode Island State shell. What’s a quahog? It’s a pretty standard looking clam, except that it’s big — about the size of a grown man’s hand. Rhode Islanders like to eat them in clam chowder (not white chowder, but clear, made without milk). They also stuff the clams with a bread and clam stuffing and serve them for dinner. The area’s Indians, the Narragansetts, called them “quahog” which means simply “clam”. They used the purple part of the shells to make wampum, which was traded by Indian tribes throughout North America.
RI State Fish
Rhode Island’s state fish is the Striped Bass (morone saxatilis), that is added to the state’s waters each spring. April Fool’s Day is the first day of the fishing season when Rhode Islanders get their first chance of the year to catch the state fish.
RI State Seal
No, not a aquatic mammal, this seal is a symbol. This picture of Rhode Island’s State Seal is from the floor of the Statehouse rotunda.
Other Rhode Island State Symbols
- RI State Flagship and Tall Ship Ambassador– the “Providence”, a replica of the orignal continental sailing ship
- RI State Fruit– A variety of apple called the Rhode Island Greening
- RI State March– “Rhode Island” words and music by T. Clark Brown
- RI State Song — “Rhode Island, It’s For Me”. The lyrics were written by Rhode Island comedian Charlie Hall. We can’t put the song on the Rhode Island Roads website because of copyright laws, but you can find it on the Internet if you look for it.
- RI American Folk Art — The Crescent Park Carousel built by Charles I.D. Looff is considered a symbol of American Folk Art.
- RI State Yacht– Twelve-meter yacht “Courageous”, one of the America’s Cup contenders.
- RI State Tartan– A real Scottish plaid design just for Rhode Island. Wierd, huh? It looks a little like the Campbell tartan.
- RI State Motto– The Rhode Island State Motto is “Hope”. This has many sources, partially because the state was founded by people seeking freedom, the state survived a horrendous war with the local Indians, and occupation by the British during the war for independence. The RI state motto, though, is most appropriate because of the nautical heritage of Rhode Island, where “Hope” symbolizes the hope of sailors. (See the note about “Hope” in the State Flag information above.)
RI State Animal
There’s no such thing as the RI State Animal. You’ll have to settle for the chicken as the state bird, after all, birds ARE animals.
To copy these RI pictures, right click on the picture and then click on “copy”. You can then go to your word processor or your drawing program and then click on “paste”. The editors of Rhode Island Roads magazine give you permission to use these pictures in your schoolwork. If you create a web page, please add a link to this site http://riroads.com