Every state likes to claim firsts,
and Massachusetts is no different. Sometimes there are
challenges to the claims, and that is where good research
can come in -- by students of all ages. The listed item
may be very old and not challenged until recently: e.g.,
Quincy as the location of the first railroad in the
country, although recent research has revealed it to
be 9th; or there has been a change in the status
of the listed item: e.g., until very recently Massachusetts
was the # 1 cranberry growing state in the world but
is now #2, second to Wisconsin.
We want to spread the word about firsts but we also
want to be truthful, so please feel free to make corrections,citing
your sources for corrections. Students can be encouraged
to find out if there are any firsts in their community
to be added or to replace a listed item.
From Citizens Information Service Massachusetts
From Mass. Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) Travel
Trivia (see below)
The first American novel (The Power of Sympathy
by William Hill Brown) was published in Boston in 1789.
The country's first millionaire, Elias Hasket Derby,
made his fortune in Salem.
Clarence Birdseye invented frozen food in Mass. in
The first Quakers arrived in this country in Mass.
President Theodore Roosevelt sent the first international
wireless message from Marconi Beach on Cape Cod.
America's oldest university is Harvard in Cambridge.
Harvard University is also the oldest corporation in
The first ship of the U.S. Navy was commissioned in
The first religious meeting house was built in Plymouth
The first schooner was built in Gloucester.
The first public school in the country was Boston Latin
The country's leading textile manufacturing center
at the end of the 19th c. was Fall River.
Worcester created the first mass-produced Valentine
Great Barrington was the first town in the world to
have electric street lights.
The largest on-display collection of Medieval and Renaissance
armor in the world is at Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester.
Auburn was home to the first liquid fuel rocket.
The first American city founded by a woman was Taunton.
The oldest highway in the country is route 20, the
Old Boston Post Road from Boston to New York.
The shoe capital of the U.S. in 1890 was Lynn.
The first library in the U.S. was established in 1638,
when Massachusetts clergyman John Harvard donated several
hundred books toward the founding of a college in Cambridge,
America's first lending library was the Franklin Public
Library, founded in 1778 through a donation of books
from Benjamin Franklin.
America's first lighthouse was built on Boston Harbor
The tallest granite monument in the U.S. is the Pilgrim
Monument in Provincetown.
The USS Constitution or ;Old Ironsides, îmoored
in the Charlestown Navy Yard, is the oldest commissioned
battleship in the world.
The oldest standing church of the original 13 colonies
is the Old Ship Church in Hingham.
The oldest historical museum in the U.S. is Pilgrim
Hall in Plymouth.
Quincy was the site of the Granite Railway, the first
railroad in the country in 1826.
(Note: Anthropology Prof.
Fred Gamst of UMass. Boston has shown this railroad
to be the 12th in the U.S. The Granite Railway was
an inclined plane built to carry granite to Neponset
wharf and thence to Charlestown via barges for construction
of the Bunker Hill Monumnet. Interestingly, his research
shows that #1 and #2 were both in Massachusetts. In
1795 Charles Bulfinch used an inclined plane and rail
cars to take earth from the top of Beacon Hill to its
base to prepare a level area for the new State House.
In a similar project in 1805, Bulfinch used a Beacon
Hill line to remove much of two of Boston's three Beacon
Hills to fill portions of Boston's tidal Back Bay.
The first Thanksgiving service was held in Plymouth
in 1630. (Thanksgiving did not become official until
the 19th century.)
The first Christmas card printed in the U.S. was printed
in Roxbury in 1874.
The first lion was exhibited in the U.S. in 1716 in
The first battles of the American Revolution took place
in Lexington and Concord.
Volleyball was invented by William Morgan in Holyoke
The oldest marathon in the U.S. is the Boston Marathon,
which began in Ashland (1897 - 1924), and later moved
to Hopkinton to equal the Olympic distance.
First Night to celebrate New Year's Eve originated
The largest craft fair in the U.S. is held in West
Springfield (A.C.C. Craft Fair).
The largest flea market in the U.S. held three times
a year is in Brimfield.
The country's oldest dance festival, Jacob's Pillow,
is held annually in Becket.
The oldest surviving examples of American painting
are the Freake family portraits at the Worcester Art
Museum. (This needs checking out)
The chocolate chip cookie was invented at the Tollhouse
Inn in Whitman.
The first wooden automobile bodies were made in Amesbury.
The first computer was developed in 1928 at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
Anesthesia was first used during surgery at Mass. General
Snow-making was invented in Lexington.
The first subway system in the US was built in Boston
The oldest operating wooden carousel in the U.S. is
;The Flying Horseî on Martha;s Vineyard.
The world's largest man-made reservoir used for drinking
water is Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts.
The first fried clams were served in Essex.
Massachusetts is the world's leading cranberry grower
(it is now second).
The highest revenue-producing fishing port in the U.S.
is Gloucester (This should be checked out).
For more information on MOTT offerings see http://www.mass-vacation.com/
Nominate a site or resource to be highlighted on this
page by sending e-mail to the Massachusetts