The Blackstone River has been used to power industry in Woonsocket since the 1660's when the Arnold family built the area's first saw mill at the Falls in Market Square. By the mid-nineteenth century, Woonsocket had grown to become one of the largest textile manufacturing centers in the United States. Unfortunately, the river suffered greatly from the industrialization of the Blackstone River Valley and became one of the most polluted rivers in America.
The Friends of the Blackstone River organization is dedicated to improving conditions on and along the Blackstone River. Already the river has come a long way in its cleaning process - much to the delight of fishermen, boaters, bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The Blackstone River has also received American Heritage River designation making it eligible for federal support for community led efforts to protect the river and preserve the area's historic and cultural heritage.
Riverfest begins at River Island Park off Market Square in Woonsocket. The focal point is a canoe and kayak race from River Island Park to the Manville Dam in Lincoln. The race course takes participants along a peaceful stretch of the river that passes some of the most historic mills in the Blackstone River Valley. The race ends at a take-out point just above the Manville Dam that has been recently restored by the Friends of the Blackstone organization.
Riverfest will be held on May 20, 2006. Contact the Friends of the Blackstone River organization for additional information.