Virginia
 
 
 
 
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Learn before you travel. This section of Fun Easy English focuses on facts and other cool stuff about your favorite U.S. state. This is great English reading practice. This page focuses on the state of Virginia.
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Virginia

The Virginia Company founded the first permanent English colony at Jamestown in 1607. One of the original 13 states (it entered the Union in 1788), Virginia was named for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England. Virginia holds an important place in American history, as it was home to many of the founding fathers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason, and Patrick Henry. Four of America's first five presidents were Virginians. During the Civil War, Richmond, Virginia's capital, was the capital of the Confederacy. Today, Virginia is a popular tourist spot where people can visit historic places such as Alexandria, Williamsburg, and Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate. Dogwood is the state flower and the cardinal is the state bird of the "Old Dominion."
Flag of VirginiaVirginia State Flag


The state flag of Virginia has a deep blue field with a circle of white in the center on both sides of the flag. In this white circle Virginia's coat of arms is painted or embroidered, as described by the convention of 1776 (also the description of Virginia's state seal):

"Virtus, the genius of the commonwealth, dressed like an Amazon, resting on a spear with one hand, and holding a sword in other, and treading on tyranny, represented by a man prostrate, a crown fallen from his head, a broken chain in his left hand and a scourge in his right. In the exergon the word Virginia over the head of Virtus, and underneath the words "Sic Semper Tyrannis."
Source: State Symbols USA
 
The great seal of the state of VirginiaVirginia State Facts

Picture: state seal of Virginia
State Capital Richmond
Nickname Old Dominion
Motto Sic Semper Tyrannis (Thus Always to Tyrants)
Statehood June 25, 1788 (10th)
Origin of Name Named for England's "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I
Largest Cities Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond, Chesapeake, Newport News
Border States Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia
Area 39,598 sq. mi., 37th largest
State Bird Cardinal
State Flower Dogwood (cornus florida)
State Tree Dogwood (cornus florida)
State Song None
Map showing the location of VirginiaTravel and tourism site for Virginia - This state travel and territorial tourism site provides ideas for your vacations, meetings, and more.
Virginia Stories
 
Fiddler Henry Reed of Virginia

Have you ever heard traditional fiddle music? One well-known fiddler, Henry Reed, grew up in Glen Lyn, Virginia. Reed was born in 1884 and grew up in a musical family. He spent most of his life performing fiddle tunes that bring to mind the history of the state's Appalachian frontier. Reed learned an amazing number of tunes, most of them by ear. He knew a wide variety of melodies, such as those from the early American frontier, waltzes, popular tunes from the turn of the 20th century, and 19th century marches.

The style of Henry Reed's fiddle playing, like the style of other older fiddlers in the South, is a combination of different influences. For instance, the rhythms he used came from both European and African American influences. American Indian music may also have made an impact on the method of playing that Reed learned so many years ago.

During the mid-1960s, folklorist Alan Jabbour recorded Henry Reed performing fiddle tunes. Many of the traditional tunes Reed played became popular again during the fiddling revival of the later 20th century.
 
Lancaster Toy and Train Collection at the Children's Museum of Virginia

What could be more fun than a museum full of toys?

A.J. "Junie" Lancaster and his wife, Mildred, had a sizable toy and train collection, which they wanted to share with others. So they donated it to the Children's Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth. The collection contains more than 2,000 toys and trains worth about $1 million! Now, young and old can enjoy Tonka toys, model cars, Buddy L trucks, fire trucks, and tin windup and cast iron toys. The collection also includes circus toys -- circus tents filled with colorful circus figures, trapeze artists, and circus wagons.

The majority of the collection, however, is dedicated to model trains. All types of trains -- Lionel, Williams, and Weaver in many different sizes -- are on display. Visitors can pop their heads up into a clear dome and get a 360-degree look at the trains as they chug around the exhibit area. They can even work the trains' controls.

Visitors also learn about railroad safety, the fun of model railroading and collecting, the history of railroads, and the railroads' importance to the development of the United States.
 
Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

Every year on the Fourth of July, people from many different countries come to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, to become United States citizens. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization. After living in the U.S. for a certain number of years, an immigrant can apply for citizenship by petitioning for naturalization.

Thomas J. Michie, Judge of the U.S. District Court of Western Virginia, began the Independence Day naturalization ceremonies at Monticello in 1963. The ceremony opens with a concert of patriotic American music. The petitioners for naturalization, their family, friends, and guests are welcomed; an invited guest reads the beginning of the Declaration of Independence; and a guest speaker delivers remarks before the new citizens take an oath. After the formal proceedings, the day ends with a Fourth of July picnic.

In 2000, the ceremonies were especially significant. The guest speaker was Madeleine K. Albright, the secretary of state at the time. She is not only the first female secretary of state, but also an immigrant. Albright followed in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson who served as the first Secretary of State, in 1790-1793.
 
Pony Swim and Auction

Can you guess how a herd of wild ponies arrived at Assateague Island, Virginia, and how their offspring have continued to live there for more than 300 years?

No one knows how the "ponies" got on the island, but one myth says that they are descendants of mustangs that swam there from a shipwrecked Spanish galleon (a large sailing ship). The most likely explanation is that they are the descendants of horses that were brought to the island in the late 17th century by owners on the U.S. mainland who wanted to avoid taxes and laws requiring them to be fenced. Although they are called "ponies," they are actually horses. Their diet of grasses and seaweed and the harsh environment prevent them from growing to full size, which makes them look more like ponies.

Today, the ponies are split into two main herds -- one on the Virginia side and one on the Maryland side of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island -- and each herd has about 150 animals.
 
Fort Lee and the Legacy of Army Women

The new U.S. Army Women's Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia, honors the women who have served in the U.S. Army.

During World War I, when Fort Lee was called Camp Lee, many women served there as nurses. During World War II, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was established. That name was soon changed to the Women's Army Corps (WAC). In the beginning, the WAC was considered a temporary unit that would be broken up when World War II ended, but that didn't happen. Instead, the WAC Training Center was established at Camp Lee in 1948 and women trained there before moving on to their permanent Army assignments.

Women have served in the military since the beginning of our nation. During the Revolutionary War, Mary McCauley, better known as "Molly Pitcher," carried water to cool both the cannons and the soldiers in her husband's regiment. During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman (an escaped slave) worked as a nurse and spy for Union forces and led the Union Army on a raid that resulted in freedom for more than 750 slaves. During World War II, Jacqueline Cochran was the first woman to fly a heavy bomber over the Atlantic. She also trained American women as transport pilots in England for the Air Transport Auxiliary of the Royal Air Force. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945 for her service in World War II.

The U.S. Army Women's Museum at Fort Lee highlights the bravery of these women and many others who have served in our country's forces.
 
Torpedo Factory Art Center

What can you do with an old torpedo factory? In Alexandria, Virginia, on the banks of the Potomac River, a torpedo factory was turned into an arts center -- the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

The factory was built after the end of the First World War, in 1918. For the next five years submarine and aircraft torpedoes (missiles) were produced there around the clock. After that, the building was a storage area for arms and ammunition until World War II. After the war it was used by the Smithsonian Institution to store art objects and valuable dinosaur bones. Congress also stored documents there, and the military used it to store German war films and records.

The city of Alexandria bought the factory from the federal government in 1969, but it wasn't until 1974 that artists converted the huge space into a complex of bright, clean studios. Today, you can visit the Torpedo Factory and see artists at work -- a potter making a bowl, an artist making a stained glass window, or a painter working on a canvas.

You can also learn about torpedoes. The torpedo in the picture is on display in the main hall. It was made at the factory in 1945 and was painted bright green so that the Navy could see it in the water when it was tested.
 
Virginia Beach Neptune Festival

Have you ever made a sand castle? What about a sand sculpture?

At the North American Sand Sculpting Championship, sand sculpturing is an art form. The Virginia Beach Neptune Festival, which includes the Sand Sculpting Championship, was named after Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. You can go to this 10-day festival and participate in sporting competitions, arts and crafts, King Neptune's Grand Parade, and, of course, the sand competition.

Both professionals and amateurs come to the Neptune Festival to compete in the sand sculpting competition. They start by using water to hold the sand together. Buckets, shovels, sprayers, wheelbarrows, ladders, and garden tools help make the sand sculptures. Cake cutters, pallet knives, spoons, and even melon-ballers are also used. Natural seashore items such as shells and seaweed are used for decorations. When the sculpture is finished you should take a photo of your masterpiece because, before you know it, it will all be washed away.
Source: Library of Congress
National Forests, Parks, and Monuments of Virginia

The following is a description of national forests, parks, and monuments in the state of Virginia. If you plan to visit or live in Virginia for awhile then you should definitely plan to visit some of these fantastic places.
 
National Forests
George Washington & Jefferson

In the Appalachian Mountains, the highest point of the forest is Mount Rogers, also the highest point in Virginia at 5,729 ft (1,746 m) in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. There are 230,000 acres (93,000 ha) of old-growth forest here, and the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail both run through the forest. This national forest is also partially located in the states of Kentucky and West Virginia.
 
National Parks
Shenandoah

Shenandoah's Blue Ridge Mountains are covered by hardwood forests that teem with a wide variety of wildlife. The Skyline Drive and Appalachian Trail run the entire length of this narrow park, along with more than 500 miles (800 km) of hiking trails passing scenic overlooks and cataracts of the Shenandoah River.
 
National Monuments
Booker T. Washington

The Booker T. Washington National Monument preserves portions of the 207-acre (0.84 km2) tobacco farm on which educator and civil rights leader Booker T. Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856. The site contains replicas of the house Washington was born in, a smokehouse, a blacksmith shed, a tobacco barn, and a horse barn.
Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe National Monument spans the American story from the 17th to the 21st centuries: Captain John Smith's journeys, a haven of freedom for the enslaved during the Civil War, and a bastion of defense for the Chesapeake Bay.
George Washington Birthplace

Representative of 18th-century Virginia tobacco farms, this site is the birthplace and boyhood environment of George Washington. The entrance includes a Memorial Shaft obelisk of Vermont marble that is a one-tenth scale replica of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Also within the monument are the historic birthplace home area, a kitchen house, and the Washington family burial ground.
 
Travel America
Cool America
About the U.S.A.

About the U.S.A. is an American Studies reader that examines the customs, government, and history of the United States of America. The text provides a wealth of information on U.S. geography and history; the roles of local, state, and federal government; national holidays and symbols; the Constitution; and citizenship. The book, which was written for intermediate to advanced learners of English, contains a range of activities for language students to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing. (opens to a new PDF window) Great English reading practice.
About America

Learn about the fascinating history and government of the United States of America. Lessons include content on American Government, American History, and Integrated Civics. Handouts with interactive games and student-centered activities encompass all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Great English reading practice for beginning to intermediate students.
American Teens Talk!

Americans Teens Talk! is a collection of interviews of American high school students. Each interview is accompanied by vocabulary notes and discussion questions. The interviews in American Teens Talk! give learners a view into the lives of adolescents in the U.S. Through the written format of the interviews, learners are able to increase their vocabulary, practice their reading and listening skills, engage in discussions, and learn more about U.S. culture. These interviews come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading
Sing Out Loud Children's Songs

Sing Out Loud Children's Songs includes popular children's songs in the U.S.A. Posters accompany the individual Sing Out Loud Children's Songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs

The Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs collection contains 13 traditional American folk songs and song lyrics. Listen to the songs online, read the lyrics, and collect the posters that accompany the songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud American Rhythms

Do you love music? Want to use it to learn English? Check out the hip-hop inspired song "Peace" from Sing Out Loud American Rhythms. American Rhythms includes a variety of musical genres from many different artists in the U.S.A. These songs will appeal to teens and young adults. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Route 66 - Famous American Road

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California, near Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.
Route 66: The Highway That's the Best
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Chicago: The Start of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Going West for Decades on Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Arizona: The Spirit of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Route 66 California: The End of the Trail
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Ten Must-See Route 66 Attractions
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Four Famous Foods On Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
International Tourists Drawn to Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
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