Blackstone River Valley
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National Heritage Corridor
Created by an act of Congress in 1986, the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is a special kind of park designed to preserve the industrial history of the Blackstone River Valley.
A sleepy farming and milling area in colonial days, the Blackstone River Valley was transformed into one of the the nineteenth century's great industrial areas. With a 430 foot drop in elevation from Worcester, MA to Providence, RI, the river was an excellent place to locate business in the days before steam turned machinery. Water powered textile mills proliferated up and down the river. Mills grew into villages and those villages eventually grew into the cities and towns we know today.
The Blackstone River National Heritage Corridor includes sites in 24 cities and towns along the 26 mile run of the Blackstone River from Worcester to Providence. Unlike traditional national parks, the federal government does not own or manage the sites which make up the corridor. Instead, they work with local groups to coordinate the preservation and interpretation of these sites. Different areas along the river highlight different aspects of the valley's industrial history.
In Woonsocket, the focus of the corridor is on the changes which resulted from the industrialization of the Blackstone River Valley. The centerpiece is the Museum of Work and Culture. Operated by the Rhode Island Historical Society, the museum tells the story of French Canadian immigrants who came to Woonsocket to work in the mills. Immigration, urbanization, and the rise of the working class are all presented in interesting, interactive displays.
After touring the museum, visitors can see many of Woonsocket's historic sites firsthand on a self-guided walking tour of the city. The Woonsocket Falls, the Ballou-Harris-Lippitt Mills, Harris Hall, the Bernon Mill Village and the River Island Park are just some of the sites within easy walking distance. Walking guides are available at the Museum of Work and Culture.
The Headquarters of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is located in the old Providence & Worcester station in Woonsocket's historic Depot Square. At the Headquarters, visitors can view free exhibits and can obtain tour guides, schedules and other information about the park.
For more information contact:
Blackstone River Valley NHC
One Depot Square
Woonsocket, RI 02895
You can also call the corridor's information line at (401)762-0440 or visit the Blackstone River Valley NHC's web site.
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