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5 Fun Facts About February 16 In Rhode Island History

---Learn Every Day: RI Today In History Facts Texted Each Day - Text: history ri To: 618-270-4005---

1. Narragansett Bay Freeze-over: On February 16, 1912, Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island froze over, making it possible for people and vehicles to cross the bay on foot. This rare event happened due to an extended cold snap that lasted for weeks. It is an unusual occurrence for the bay to freeze over since it is a saltwater body.

2. Colonial Charter Signed: February 16, 1663, is a significant date in Rhode Island's history as it marks the signing of the Royal Charter. This document was signed by King Charles II, granting Rhode Island autonomy from Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony's founder, Roger Williams, had been advocating for separation and religious freedom, and the charter supported those ideals.

3. First Synagogue in Rhode Island: On February 16, 1905, the first synagogue in Rhode Island, Temple Beth-El, was dedicated. It was founded by a group of Jewish immigrants who settled in Providence in the mid-19th century. The synagogue has played a significant role in Rhode Island's Jewish community and is still in use today.

4. Rhode Island Statehood: February 16 is celebrated as Presidents' Day in the United States, a federal holiday honoring the country's past presidents. As the 13th state to join the Union, Rhode Island has played a significant role in the nation's history. It became a state on May 29, 1790, after agreeing to the new United States Constitution.

5. The Great Molasses Flood: On January 15, 1919, a massive wave of sticky molasses flooded the North End of Boston, killing 21 people and injuring dozens more. The molasses came from a holding tank owned by United States Industrial Alcohol (USIA), a subsidiary of the Purity Distilling Company. The tank burst, sending a 25-foot high tidal wave of molasses down Commercial Street. But the molasses flood also impacted Rhode Island. Houses were destroyed, and people were injured in Providence, also resulting in several lawsuits against PDC and USIA. This disaster led to more stringent safety regulations for the storage and handling of volatile liquids.
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