• The Slater Mill (yellow) and Wilkinson Mill (stone), along the Blacktone River in Pawtucket RI

    Blackstone River Valley

    National Heritage Corridor MA,RI

Restoring the River

Foam pours into the Mumford River from a mill, c. 1970

Mill discharge into the Mumford River, c. 1970.

The Blackstone: A River Reborn

The Blackstone River is the heart of the Valley’s history, and its rebirth. Once neglected and polluted, the Blackstone is coming back. Federal and state agencies have made an ongoing investment in improving the water quality and ecology of the river

Grassroots efforts have protected the Blackstone Gorge and other scenic areas throughout the Valley. New river access points and other improvements are helping a wide range of people enjoy the river. The Blackstone River Bikeway – which parallels the river - is well on its way, improving access and increasing public awareness of this valuable resource. Community development is also increasing along the river. All of these developments point toward a new Blackstone River – one that serves as a source of pride for the entire Valley.

Today, the Blackstone River is classified as Class C, suitable for boating and other secondary contact recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and industrial processing and cooling. A major goal of the Corridor Commission is a pollution-free river – to enable Valley residents to take full advantage of the recreational opportunities on and along the river and to contribute to the quality of life in Valley communities.

 
NPS Ranger sampling insects in the river

Ranger Dan Meharg samples insects during Expedition 2000

In 2000, the Corridor Commission and its partners held Expedition 2000 – a four-day trip down the Blackstone River from Worcester, MA to Pawtucket, RI to raise awareness about the River and its issues and to explore opportunities for its renewal with the help of local, state and federal partnership projects.

This event also launched the ZAP! the Blackstone river campaign to focus efforts along the river to improve its water quality and public access - resulting in a cleaner, vibrant river.

Currently, the Corridor Commission is working with many partners to improve the river through organizing water quality monitoring programs, sponsoring river events, doing cleanups, building river access sites, and providing the public with information and a hands-on approach to river improvement.

The goal of Zap the Blackstone is to make the Blackstone a fishable-swimmable river by the year 2015. For more information on this campaign, please download the files below, or click here to see how you can get involved.

Fishable/Swimmable Blackstone by 2015
(PDF: 166kb / 2pages)

Teaching Science
(PDF: 1.92MB / 4 pages)

New Life for the Blackstone River
(PDF: 872KB / 4 pages)

Did You Know?

Hand colored drawing of barge on Blackstone Canal in Millbury

The top speed on the Blackstone Canal was 3 mph? The canal barges, pulled by a team of two horses, usually took two days to make the 44 mile journey from Providence, RI to Worcester, MA.