Valley Falls Mill Village

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Forming the border between Cumberland and Central Falls, Valley Falls had been the site of textile manufacturing since 1818. Its growth was accelerated in 1839 when Oliver Chase purchased mills on both sides of the river and formed the Valley Falls Company.

Valley Falls looking to the Cumberland side Using the power of the Valley Falls dam, the Chase family built a textile empire at Valley Falls that lasted for 70 years. The Valley Falls Company started with two midsize stone mills and eventually added two larger brick mills - one on each side of the dam. As the Valley Falls Company grew, so did the village to support it. By 1860, other manufacturers had come to the area to take advantage of the labor force and infrastructure. Valley Falls became Cumberland's downtown and the seat of town government.

Valley Falls Mill, Central Falls The Valley Falls Company continued until the 1930's when it was closed, ending an important phase in the history of the area. The mills on the Cumberland side were demolished in 1934 to avoid property taxes. The site remained vacant until 1991 when the Town of Cumberland and the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor transformed the site into a historic park. Walkways, ramps and bridges were added to allow visitors to tour the foundations of the mill complex. Interpretive signs were added to tell the story of the Valley Falls Company.

Valley Falls Gatehouse On the Central Falls side, the mills remained and were eventually converted into senior citizens housing. Although parts of the stone buildings were covered with stucco, the apartment complex still provides an excellent idea of what the original mills looked like. The main power trench still flows between the two wings of the complex in a manner that allowed separate drive systems in each wing to be powered by the same trench. The gate house that directed water into the trench still stands by the dam. A similar structure originally stood in the park on the Cumberland side of the falls.

This page utilizes information from:

  • Valley Falls - Cumberland and Central Falls, Rhode Island - a walking tour guide provided by the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
Tour guides for Valley Falls and many other sites are available from the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

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