“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Rhode Island Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on January 25, 2022

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell
via Wikipedia Commons

 Rhode Island ranks 55th among states and provinces with markers in this database. The United States of America is a state in the United States of America located in the American Northeast. It is also in the New England region. Rhode Island is some 1 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 1.1 million people. The state is divided into five counties and all of them have entries in this database. In Rhode Island we have discovered historical markers in 32 cities and towns lying in 38 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 337 historical markers in Rhode Island, by our count. We have cataloged 310 historical markers and 39 war memorials—each individually presented on 343 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another 27 historical markers in Rhode Island that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

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The first Rhode Island marker in the database, Wilkinson Mill, was added July 11, 2007. It was photographed in Pawtucket in Providence County and was erected in 1977. The last one added was submitted on December 17, 2021, and titled Massasoit Park Sacred Circle Monument. It is in Warren in Bristol County and had been erected in 2021. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in Rhode Island was erected in 1877. It was this one: In the Miery Swamp, and one of our correspondents found it in Bristol in Bristol County on October 31, 2010.

Rhode Island Historical Topics
84 • Colonial Era
71 • Waterways and Vessels
51 • Industry and Commerce
48 • Settlements and Settlers
45 • Revolutionary War
30 • Notable Buildings
29 • Forts and Castles
29 • Churches and Religion
28 • Patriots and Patriotism
26 • African Americans
    ... and others ...

Rhode Islanders don’t want to forget their Colonial Era history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Rhode Island about Colonial Era—84 of them—than about any other historical topic. It is followed by Waterways and Vessels with 71 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Colonial Era topic was Nine Men’s Misery, added October 12, 2007. It had been erected in 1928 in Cumberland in Providence County. The last one submitted was submitted on November 18, 2021, and titled Early Bristol 17th Century Beginnings. It had been erected in 2021 in Bristol in Bristol County. The earliest marker erected with the Colonial Era topic that we have listed was erected in 1877. It is In the Miery Swamp, found in Bristol in Bristol County on October 31, 2010.

What is the most interesting historical marker in Rhode Island? What we know is that The Great Swamp Fight is the most viewed entry in the database from Rhode Island since it was added in 2009. It is located near West Kingston in Washington County. It is also the most viewed entry so far this year.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The Rhode Island county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Providence County, with 161 of them. It is followed by Newport County with 111 markers. The Providence area of Providence County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 125. In Newport County the area with the most markers, 80, is Newport.

Historical Markers in These
Rhode Island Counties
161 • Providence County
111 • Newport County
45 • Washington County
15 • Kent County
11 • Bristol County

Checking the database for the city or town in Rhode Island with the most markers we again find Providence at the top of the list with 125 markers in or near it. And Newport also shows up again in next place, with 80 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 02903 at the top of the list with 92 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 02903 is assigned to Providence RI.) It is followed by ZIP Code 02840 with 81 markers. (02840 is assigned to Newport RI.)

Historical Markers Near These
Rhode Island Cities and Towns
125 • Providence
80 • Newport
29 • Pawtucket
16 • Jamestown
11 • Exeter
9 • Coventry
9 • Westerly
8 • Portsmouth
6 • Bristol
6 • Charlestown
    ... and others ...

Getting back to Providence County, the first marker added to the database from there, Wilkinson Mill, was added July 11, 2007, and was also the first one submitted in all of Rhode Island. It was erected in 1977 in Pawtucket. The last one submitted was uploaded on June 22, 2020, and is titled The Changing Face of the West Bank / The West Bank, in Providence. The earliest marker erected in Providence County that we have listed was erected in 1887. It was Ambrose Burnside Memorial, found in Providence on June 21, 2020.

Latest entry from Rhode Island. Click to go there
By David Weed
Latest Entry from Rhode Island
“Massasoit Park Sacred Circle Monument”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Newport. The first: Rochambeau, was added October 9, 2011. It had been erected in 1934. The last: World War I Memorial Tower added on December 3, 2020. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1885: Perry, added on October 18, 2011.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

There is no organization in charge of erecting official historical markers state-wide in Rhode Island today. A number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Tourist Attractions? Or Something Off the Beaten Path?

Rhode Island offers both and there is plenty of history to check out. If you live in or are visiting Rhode Island, hit the road and check out places where something of interest once occured, or where famous or infamous people once stood. Our database can help you find some of these places. And perhaps you’ll find some we don’t know about and will take the time to photograph them and add them to the database. Happy Hunting!

Jan. 25, 2022