The State Nicknames – Part 8

Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Collecting state number plates has become quite a hobby for us when we visit Orlando, and it is amazing how many you can see, from all over the USA. Each number plate has a state nickname which reflects its own particular character.


The Bay State is the most common nickname of Massachusetts, and this refers to Cape Cod Bay where the early settlers built their homes. It is also linked to the Massachusetts Bay Company which was given a royal charter to promote settlement of this new land, and this charter became the basis of the government for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Indeed, Massachusetts was the site of the first Thanksgiving celebration in the autumn of 1621. This settlement of the Plymouth Colony also led to the name The Old Colony State, and the Pilgrim State in deference to the early settlers who set up government in Massachusetts.

Also called the Puritan State, because of the Puritan immigrants who arrived in Massachusetts looking for somewhere safe where they could practice their religion without persecution. Because the Puritans served brown bread and baked beans on Sundays, because they did not cook on the Sabbath, and this meal could be prepared the day before, the state also has the nickname The Baked Bean State.

Massachusetts has been an integral part of American history for over 250 years, and because it benefited from plentiful fishing and trading, as well as shipbuilding its residents became increasingly defiant about the taxes imposed on it from Britain. Thus is was in 1773 that the Bostonians held their famous Tea Party, which was instrumental in the forcing out of the British from Boston, and ultimately the independence of America.

This state has been the birthplace of four presidents – John F Kennedy, George Bush Snr, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.


The nickname, The Wolverine State seems to be shrouded in mystery because although it is generally believed that its name reflects the abundance of wolverines which once roamed the peninsula, apparently wolverines were very rare, if present at all in Michigan. A more disturbing explanation is that the people of Michigan were described as ‘as vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines’ and indeed, as ' vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines. ' It is also believed that the native Indians compared the way that settlers took their land in the 1830s with the way a greedy wolverine went after its food.

A more attractive name is ‘The Great Lake State’ due to the fact that four of the five Great Lakes are on the shores of Michigan – Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan. There are also more than 11, 000 lakes in Michigan so it well deserves this nickname. Apparently one is never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes or six miles from an inland lake. In 1984 the legend on Michigan License Plates was changed to ‘Great Lakes. ’ This abundance of water led to another nickname, ‘Water Wonderland, ’ as well as ‘Lady of the Lake, ’ a nickname which was probably taken from Sir Walter Scott’s poem, ‘Lady of the Lake. ’ Almost half of Michigan is water, and with 3, 177 miles of shoreline it has the most registered pleasure boats in the USA.

Finally, the nickname, ‘The Auto State, ’ celebrates the important role the manufacture of automobiles has played in the state’s history.

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