10 Random Facts You Always Wanted To Know About Connecticut But Were Afraid To Ask By Sean Maloney Images courtesy of (L-R) Google.com, Flickr.com, Stamfordplus.com
Image courtesy of Wikimedia.org 1. State Insect Massachusetts has its ladybug. Maine has its honey bee. But Connecticut has the praying mantis as its state insect. State entomologist Kirby Stafford calls this bug an exotic rather than a native. “ School kids back in 1977 petitioned to get the mantis because it was glamorous. Otherwise, we would have the lady beetle,” Stafford says. Poor Rhode Island . They don’t even have a state insect.
Image courtesy of Sureck/New York Times 2. Same-Sex Marriage Did you know Connecticut is the second state, after Massachusetts, to recognize legally marriage equality? The Connecticut Department of Public Health has compiled data showing 3,315 same-sex couples have tied the knot in the state since the law went into effect in November, 2008.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia.org 3. The Hartford Courant Connecticut is a state with a lot of firsts - submarine, pay phone and hamburger. It also can claim first newspaper with The Hartford Courant which was first published on Oct. 29, 1764.
Image courtesy of Hartford.gov 4. Witches Speaking of firsts, the first person to be executed for suspected witchcraft was not in Salem, Mass. According to Trinity College professor Judy Dworin, Alice Young of Windsor, Conn., was hanged in 1647 on what is now the site of the Old State House on Main Street. “ There were 14 convictions and 11 executions in Connecticut,” Dworin says. Legislation, known as Resolution 26, exonerating the accused is before the General Assembly says Dworin.
Map of Connecticut state prisons courtesy of Wikipedia.org 5. The Death Penalty Connecticut does have a death penalty. There are currently 10 inmates on death row. All are male. All are housed at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers. Inmates on death row cost the state’s taxpayers the same as an inmate in the general population - $92.35 per day.
Map of Freedom Trail courtesy of Farmington Historical Society 6. The Underground Railroad Freedom was something taken very seriously by Connecticut Abolitionists. Farmington, a suburb of Hartford, is well-known for its Underground Railroad. “ The town was a hub for transporting slaves to Canada because of its proximity to New Haven and points north,” says Jean Pickens, president of the Farmington Historical Society. The society provides tours of the railroad that are part of the Connecticut Freedom Trail. “ It’s quite fascinating to see the cubbyholes near chimneys where slaves were hidden from prying eyes in some of these stately homes,” Pickens says.
Image of Middlebury, Conn., barn courtesy of Cttrust.org 7. Connecticut Farms Connecticut’s history is steeped in farming. During the Revolutionary War, the state was known as the Provision State because of the steady supply of farm goods it provided to the soldiers. With the advent of the Industrial Era, farming in the state naturally declined. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s 2007 census , only 13.1 percent of Connecticut’s land is now used for farming.
Bespoke, New Haven, Conn., image courtesy of Sullivan/ New York Times 8. Dining Out In 1986, Connecticut started a program called Connecticut Grown to emphasize the importance of locally farmed food. An offshoot of Connecticut Grown is the Farm to Chef program where Connecticut restaurants are proactive in the serving of foods from neighboring farms. In 2007, there were almost 7,000 eating and drinking businesses in the state according to the National Restaurant Association.
Image of Madison, Conn., beach courtesy of City-data.com 9. Connecticut Coastline The state has over 1,000 miles of saltwater coastline according to the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection. Up and down Long Island Sound, numerous Connecticut oyster farmers tend to their bounty. Linda Piotrowicz at the state’s Dept. of Agriculture says Connecticut leases beds of the ocean floor where oysters are grown for eating. “ The farmers have to renew every three years,” Piotrowicz says. Fishing and shellfish farming are known as aquaculture.
Image of Kleen Energy plant courtesy of Daricek/Hartford Courant 10. Construction Disasters Connecticut is not immune from natural or man-made disasters. The Kleen Energy plant explosion in Middletown on Feb. 7, 2010 claimed the lives of six men making it the second worse construction disaster in the state. The L’Ambiance Plaza collapse in Bridgeport killed 28 workers in 1987 while the Mianus River bridge tragedy in Greenwich killed three motorists in 1983.