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Delaware's Dover, capital of America's first state!

© By Adam Southwood
  Old State House Let's assume that you are competing in a quiz show, and the category is Delaware. Not quite ready are you? Okay, first some trivia: Delaware covers 1,982 square miles and its name is derived from the Delaware River and Bay named for Sir Thomas West, Lord De la Warr. Delaware became the first state when 13 delegates signed the U.S. Constitution on December 7, 1787 in Battell's Tavern, otherwise known as the Golden Fleece Tavern, on The Green in Dover.
     Delaware's Capital, Dover, is located in the heart of Kent County. The state motto is: Liberty and Independence and the state colours are colonial blue and buff, significant as they represent the uniform of General George Washington. State nicknames are: The First State, The Diamond State, Blue Hen State, and Small Wonder. Okay, we are getting there but don't forget these state attributes - State Bird: Blue Hen, State Bug: Ladybug, State Butterfly: Tiger Swallowtail, State Drink: Milk, State Fish: Weakfish, State Flower: Peach Blossom, State Fossil: Belemnite, State Herb: Sweet Golden Rod, State Macroinvertebrate: Stone Fly, State Marine Animal: Horseshoe Crab, State Mineral: Sillimanite, State Soil: Greenwich Loam, State Star: On June 30, 2000, the Delaware Diamond, located in the constellation of Ursa Major (Great Bear), with coordinates of right ascension 9h40m44s and declination 48°14'2", was designated as Delaware's State star, State Tree: American Holly. Who would have known that there was a State Macroinvertebrate? Apparently in Delaware, they take their symbols seriously.
     Famous Delaware Actors include: Robert Mitchum, Valerie Bertinelli, Ryan Filippe, Teri Polo, Judge Reinhold, Elisabeth Shue, Andrew Shue, Sean Patrick and Doug Hutchison.
     Famous Residents are: Revolutionary patriots Caesar Rodney and John Dickinson; Richard Allen, a freed slave who co-founded the denomination that became the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Eldridge Reeves Johnson, co-founder of the gramophone and co-founder of the Victor Talking Machine Co., later RCA. Senator and Vice- President Joseph Biden.
     We are almost there. Here is a list of must-do's in Delaware: watch children dance around the maypole during the Old Dover Days Festival; take the First State Heritage Park's walking tour of the Green; attend a NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway, Make a purchase at Spence's Bazaar, catch a performance at the Schwartz Center for the Arts or the Smyrna Opera House, eat a candy apple at the Delaware State Fair, attend a Wesley College or Delaware State University home football game, pedal your bike in the annual Amish Country Bike Tour, search for the grave of patriot Caesar Rodney, shop on Loockerman Street in Downtown Dover, attend the Bud & Bug Festival in Milford, catch a fish on a Charter Boat out of Bowers Beach, walk the tarmac of an Air Show at Dover Air Force Base.

Amish Boys  Amish Girls  Bike Race  Buggy And Riders  Quilts On Display

     Now that we have all of the trivia out of the way, let's get back to the capitol region and Dover. Here, you may enjoy some leisurely shopping at one of the Amish markets or wander in one of the quaint shops located in the historic downtown region or rev things up by driving an actual NASCAR stock car on Dover's famous Monster Mile or take in one of the two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Races or test your luck at the Harrington Raceway and Casino. There is always something to do.
     If you are a birder, a visit to the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is a must! The refuge is a 16,000-acre haven along the Delaware Bay Coast filled with salt marshes, ponds, field and forests. If it is hiking, biking, kayaking or canoeing that you seek, you must pay a visit to one of the many pristine state parks located in Kent County. There are fantastic biking trails and plenty of ponds and rivers peppered throughout the county waiting to be discovered. If a day on the farm or a vineyard suits your taste, Kent County is the home to many different farms and the Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery. In fact agriculture is one of Kent County's largest industries.

AMC Del Rod Show  Dover USAF, C-5B  Dover Downs Harness Racing  Kent County  Maypole Dance

     There; now you know much more about Delaware and its capitol, Dover. Did we forget one item from 1776? Yes, Washington crossed the Delaware river, but no, this had less to do with Dover and much more to do with Trenton where the British would be attacked by the first president's colonial army. Okay, Delaware then became the first state, but let's not quibble.

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history and has produced several educational programs for TV.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Kent County & Greater Dover Delaware Convention Visitors Bureau

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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dover,_Delaware
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Dover_%28Delaware%29
About.com: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/airforcebaseprofiles/ss/dover.htm
Kent County & Greater Dover Delaware Convention Visitors Bureau: http://www.visitdover.com/

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