Along the BlackstoneAlong the Blackstone is our award-winning public access television show. Please click on the links below to download and watch these episodes. These files are large, and may take several minutes to download depending on your connection speed.
"The Blackstone Canal" - Episode #2
With a focus on the Blackstone Canal and its relationship to the river, National Park Service Rangers connect the heritage of the region to the development of its transportation system, the Canal.What better way to experience the Canal than by water with a view of the Blackstone Valley Explorer.So join us as Along the Blackstone takes us along for a ride as we look at the present view of the Canal &River with an eye to the future.Importantly, we see how local groups take on the responsibility for cleaning the river.
"Baseball in the Valley" - Episode #4
A critical component of every mill village was the baseball oval, the diamond, the field.Nowhere were those places treasured more than here in the Blackstone Valley.Historian Doug Reynolds explains the role baseball played in labor relations and as a mill village institution.To get a real feel for what it was like to play ball back in those days, we talk with Charlie Mullaly of the Millville Rovers.Baseball was serious business for both the mill workers and the mill owners.Join us as Along the Blackstone takes a look at major league greats Gabby Hartnett and Tim McNamara from Millville MA, classic ball fields like McCoy Stadium, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox's, and the role that mill owner Walter Shuster played in the development of the first major developmental league for Major League Baseball, the industrial Blackstone Valley League.
"Trails of the Corridor" - Episode #6
Throughout the Blackstone Valley, one element is pervasive –trails.Join us as Along the Blackstone takes a look at several of the varieties of trails.Developing horse trails requires hard work and good partner building skills.Our good friends, the Bay State Trail Riders, took on the challenge of turning the Southern New England Railroad Truck Line into a trail for horses and anyone else who wants to enjoy the great outdoors.Now trails for fish, specifically anadromous fish, is a whole different story.America's journey towards industrialization caused the anadromous fish (salmon, river herring &alewifes) to be forced out of their birthplace in fresh water to spawn.We will be talking with RI-DEM Fish Biologist, Chris Powell, as we see how successful many fish ladders have become and the future of a fish ladder at the historic Slater Mill in Pawtucket.
"Preserving the Valley" - Episode #7
One of the more significant aspects of the Corridor's role here in the Valley is to promote the importance of preservation.So join us as Along the Blackstone and National Park Service Rangers take you on a "preservation journey" that stretches from the Chestnut Hill Meeting House to Rogerson's Village &the Crown &Eagle Mill to the Village of Limerock–all showcasing preservation needs and successes.
What's a Corridor?" - Episode #8
In attempting to understand why the National Heritage Area Program is such a success, you don't have to travel further than the Blackstone River Valley.Join us as Along the Blackstone talks with a wide spectrum of our partners and their many successful projects that help folks understand just why this Heritage Area concept works so well .
"Abolitionists &the Underground Railroad in the Blackstone Valley" - Episode #9
The history of the Blackstone Valley is America's story: it is deep, fascinating and complex.Nowhere does that complexity of story emerge with more power than in dealing with textile mills and slavery (for those hands that picked the cotton were enslaved hands).Throw in radical abolitionist, underground railroad sites and all that complexity that is America's story plays out here in the Blackstone Valley.With NPS Chief Historian Edwin Bearss providing a context and sister National Park Service Site, Boston African American NHS (Rangers Bernadette Williams &Charles Taylor), the Asa Waters Mansion in Millbury and the Liberty Farm home of Abby Kelly Foster &Stephen Foster as key sites, the story of the anti-slavery movement comes alive here in the Valley.
"Water Quality" - Episode #11
By the beginning of the 1970's, the Blackstone River was known as one of the worst polluted rivers in America.With 200 years of industrial development along its banks and with the Blackstone Valley being the birthplace of America's journey to industrialization, is anyone surprised that the river would reflect all the abuses industrialization would bring?But times change and people do to.Today the image of a very polluted river is changing.Join us as Along the Blackstone takes you on a tour of Narragansett Bay with Save the Bay, story teller Marc Joel Leavitt and the internationally acclaimed Celtic group PENDRAGON as they tell the story of Allison of the Blackstone, and finally world renown canoe &kayak instructor &boat designer, Bob Foote and Joe Baer talk about what a great recreational river the Blackstone is.
"Mill Life" - Episode #12
Were the mill owners of the Blackstone Valley the harsh, penny-pinching ogres we associate with a Charles Dickens novel or were they benevolent father-figures who genuinely cared about the welfare of their workers?The truth probably lies somewhere in between.As the industrial age swept across America, the impact on the workers and their communities were profound.Along the Blackstone Episode #12 - Mill Life will take a look at the Rumford Chemical Company, Village of Rumford, East Providence, RI and the Draper Manufacturing Co. of Hopedale, MA as we examine workers and mill owners.Professor Scott Molloy, labor historian at the University of Rhode Island, will put everything into perspective for us.
"Economic Impact of the Civil War on the Valley" - Episode #13
The America that entered into the Civil War was not the America that would emerge for the country would be changed forever.America was not yet the industrial powerhouse it would become, but the Civil War pushed it hard in that direction.Developing new technologies, new processes, new patents on a wide range of products, machines and the like - the tremendous need for goods and material was produced from a great wealth of worker ingenuity.Join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #13 takes a look at the economic impact of the Civil War on the Blackstone Valley.This Episode is one of three that deal with the Civil War's impact on the Blackstone Valley: #13 - the Economic Impact; #14 - the Soldiers Camp Life & #15 - the Human Side of the Civil War - enjoy all three.
"A Soldier's Camp Life - Civil War in the Valley Part II" - Episode #14
As we approach the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, stop for a moment and consider what the daily camp life of a soldier during the Civil War must have been like.In a war where the technology changed rapidly, while the tactics remained as they were during the Napoleonic era, a soldier's life was hard.How did they pass their time?How did they avoid disease, the prime killer of soldiers from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line?How was technology changing the tactics of war?And how do you care for the wounded - from a Surgeon's perspective?These and other questions are answered in Along the Blackstone's Episode #14 with the help of Civil War Re-enactors from Battery "B", 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery Regiment and members from the 22nd,the 28th & 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiments.Enjoy the period music performed by PENDRAGON of Cumberland, RI.
"The Home Front - Civil War in the Valley Part III" - Episode #15
General Sherman said, "War is hell".While the battlefield prompted the General's comment, that same agony and sacrifice was felt on the home front as well.Since regimental company's were, on the most part, recruited from the same community.Such horrific battles as Antietam or Gettysburg would leave an entire community in mourning.How did communities cope with such losses?The not knowing the condition of a son, a husband, a brother or lover after a battle was exasperating.Life at home was defined by waiting, the awful waiting and not knowing was, way too often, unbearable.So join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #15 gives us insight into what was happening on the home front.Included in this episode is a powerful Historical Music Video entitled, "The Vacant Chair" one of the most popular and poignant songs of the Civil War.
"Village Voices" - Episode #17
Stories.As far back as when humans first prowled this earth, stories were the threads of our past that kept us together.Family stories, tribal history's - were all passed down through oral traditions.Even most of our music has come down from our past.That oral tradition that connects our past to the present is still an important part of life.So join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #17 explores the stories of our past and how they impact us today.And think about this, a recent study indicated that children who sat around the family dinner table and shared in the conversation had higher reading levels and were far more literate than children who didn't have that opportunity.What do you suppose a family seated at the dinner table would talk about at the turn of the century?...sooner or later the talk would turn to family stories.
"Signs of Spring" - Episode #19
Season's in transition.You never know just what to wear when it's Spring, looks like Spring, but still feels like winter.For the observant, these transitions between seasons can reveal a great deal about the natural world.Venturing out into an open field is a little like playing detective, what clues can you find as to what critters were here, what were they doing and where did they go.So join us as Along the Blackstone Episode #19 explores that transition between winter and spring and, you know, it brings to mind one of those great Robert Frost poem's….
"Diners of the Valley" - Episode #20
You're working 2nd shift.You're starving and it's the early 1870's, where do you go to get a cup of hot "Joe", or a slice of apple pie or a Pulled Pork Sandwich?Well, in most towns you'd be out of luck, but if you were in Providence, RI in 1872, Walter Scott would be serving a piping hot cup of coffee, pulled pork sandwich and a slice of the best homemade apple pie.It became so lucrative for Scott, that he quit his job at the Providence Journal as a typesetter and began running several horse-drawn wagons around Providence dishing out great food to all the 2nd shift workers and other "night owls".So join us as Along the Blackstone Episode #20 explores how an "American Original" was created and what it meant to the working guy - the creation of the American Diner.
"Cape Verdean Voices" - Episode #28
Runtime: 29:48 - Copyright: March 1997
Where do you go if there is not enough land?Where do you go if the land you do have suffers from endless droughts?The answer was the same for many cultures around the world, you went to AMERICA - the land of opportunity.While opportunities may be many in America, the risks were high too.The challenging landscape of the drought plagued the Cape Verde Islands forcing many of the men to become sailors and renowned whalers.This created a culture of strong women and rich musical traditions that all cultures can relate to.So join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #28 explores the Cape Verde culture of the Blackstone Valley and their wonderful musical traditions."Come Closer Children & You Will Hear…Family Stories - Part I" - Episode #33
Runtime: 30:00 - Copyright: December 1997
The preservation of memory, family memory, our memory is a vital part of determining who we are as a people as well as helping to define each of us in terms of our own "special story".All too often, a valued family member will pass away and his or her family stories will pass away with them.In our fast-paced world of facebook, iphones and other technology, who has time to sit down and listen to Grandpa talk about the 2nd World War or the Great Depression or Aunt Rosa talking about life working in a mill or surviving the Great Influenza of 1918.Saving family stories is important, so join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #33 helps us learn how to listen and preserve these marvelous family stories.And along the way, we're hear some great stories too.This is Part I of a two Part series.
"Come Closer Children & You Will Hear…Family Stories - Part II" - Episode #34
Today there are many ways to share and save family stories, here are just a few of the techniques and stories that some families are using to preserve their history.This is part II of "Come Closer Children and You Will Hear…Sharing Family Stories", two part series.Rich stories from different cultures that reflect real life and make personal history come alive.So, join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #34 helps us appreciate the variety and depth of family stories and how important it is to preserve them.
"Mill City & Mill Village: Lowell & the Blackstone Valley, America's Industrial Story" - Episode #36
America's industrial story can be told from many perspectives.Big corporate mills that dominate their urban landscape to rural 4-story mills tucked alongside a stream that generated power to run its machines.There are two National Parks here in New England who tell, from very different perspectives, the story of America's journey towards industrialization.So join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #36 takes us on a trip to the industrial City and National Park in Lowell, Massachusetts and down to the Blackstone River Valley to see mill villages with rivers and mills side-by-side.National Park Service Rangers will tell the story of these very different approaches to building industry.
"Swedish Experience in the Valley" - Episode #38
The story of America is the story of the immigrants who find their way here, the question often is why?Why travel all that distance? Endure countless hardships just to come to America?The answer is simple –WORK!The chance to make a better life for one's self and family.It's the American Story.Join us as Along the Blackstone helps us understand the Swedish experience in America as seen in Quinsigamond Village in Worcester, heart of the Washburn &Moen Wire Mill and Rumford, RI and the Rumford Chemical Company.Professor's Charles Estus (now retired) and John McClymer from Assumption College will set the stage for our discussion and others will share their stories of growing up Swedish in the Blackstone Valley.
"What Would You Do for Freedom? - Episode #41
What would you do for freedom?What risks would you take?What hardships would you endure to make yourself free?Powerful questions, my friends.Too often we take for granted our freedom, but for those enslaved Africans prior to the American Civil War, these questions were asked every minute of every day –what would I do for freedom?Join us as Along the Blackstone takes us on a journey to understand what it was that finally made those enslaved to risk everything for a chance at freedom.Learn about the National Park Service's Underground Railroad Initiative and powerful stories of Underground Railroad activity from New Bedford, the African-American Meeting House in Boston and here in the Blackstone Valley.What hardships would you endure to make yourself free?
"Volunteers in Nature" - Episode #42
"New England Farm Traditions" - Episode #43
It is thought that the rocky New England landscape is a hard place to farm, but to the New England farmer, he see's richness, vitality and profits.Join us as Along the Blackstone looks at New England farming traditions.Why was a team of oxen an important family asset?What the heck was a stone boat?The New England farmer was a real optimist for planting grain, corn and vegetables for working in the rocky New England soil takes a great deal of patience.It also requires sound traditions: traditions of hard work, story-telling, family get-togethers and a tradition of caring for the farm animals and your farm neighbors.
"We're Still Here - The Nipmuc People in the Blackstone Valley" - Episode #44
It was not uncommon for census takers to change the designation of a various groups of people of color back in the 1800's.A Nipmuc or Indian family would become either negro, black, or mixed blood.Local historians would recount the passing of the "last Nipmuc" from their respective town in the Town's "Centennial" History.Yet the truth is that the Nipmuc have always remained in the same landscape of their elders and remain here still.Join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #44 takes a hard look at the written histories that attempted to erase these native people's story.The voices of the Nipmuc People at Hassanamisco, the only land continuously held in Indian ownership within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, tell with great passion their family stories and of keeping their culture alive.Through their music, their language and their traditions you will find the Nipmuc to be very much a part of our community today.
"Places to Hide - Underground Railroad Activity in the Blackstone Valley" - Episode #46
There are many myths about the Underground Railroad.Here in New England we will attempt to bring some fresh light to these myths.Each region of the country moved those formerly enslaved, now freedom seekers, to their final destination by very different methods.Join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #46 helps uncover routes, methods and stories of the Underground Railroad in the Blackstone Valley.
"Roger Williams and Our Religious Freedom" - Episode #47
Nestled in part of Downtown Providence, Rhode Island, the only actual "real" open space in this industrial city is Roger Williams National Memorial, part of the National Park System, dedicated to the principal of freedom: free speech and freedom of religion. In today's world where religious freedoms are constantly being challenged, this oasis of thought provides the background to understand how America came to appreciate the concept of Freedom of Religion. Join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #47 takes on a journey back to the time of Roger Williams in the 1630's where we will gain new appreciation for the extent of religious persecution that was part of the British North American landscape and how that applies to our world today. Join us as we come to know Roger Williams, a man who would argue over religious principles, but defend to his death your right to express them.
"The Home Front WWII: The War Effort in the Blackstone Valley - Episode #50
Planning, prior to the arrival of Frederick Law Olmsted, was an unknown profession. The social dynamics surrounding the concept of parks;who would use them and for what purposes, was indeed a contested issue. Boisterous games or refined cultural enlightenment? The working class or the wealthy class? Frederick Law Olmsted brought a great sense of "the long term perspective" to his work. He was a man who saw a landscape in terms of what it could look like in the future, so join us as Along the Blackstone explores the world of Frederick Law Olmsted and the need for parks in a changing American social landscape. We will also get to visit Olmsted's workshop in Brookline, MA, now a National Park Site.
"George Perkins Marsh & Blackstone Valley Growth" - Episode #53
There is a connection between Vermont's only National Park, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Site in Woodstock and the Blackstone Valley. The connection is how to abuse a landscape. Here in the Blackstone Valley, we polluted our rivers while up in Vermont the early farming techniques of the post-revolutionary Vermont farmer almost ruined the forests throughout the whole state. Join us as Along the Blackstone takes us on a journey through landscapes and helps us understand why planning is so critical to our sustainable future. You'll also learn a bit about one of America's most thoughtful environmental thinkers, George Perkins Marsh. "Every middle-aged man who revisits his birth place after a few years absence, looks upon another landscape then that which formed the theatre of his youth toils and pleasures." Marsh's address to the Agricultural Society of Rutland, Vermont, Sept. 30, 1847
"Vision –The Art of Doing" - Episode #54
"People Do Make a Difference –The History of ZAP" - Episode #55
The Blackstone River was known for its foul stench, the colorful dyes from the textile industry, the heavy and toxic metals from the many machinery mills and a river bank that was just hard to find due to all the litter and junk that was piled up along its banks. Today, Osprey's can be found fishing its waters. Beavers are back. And the Blackstone is now known for three major canoe &kayak races, what changed? It was the people who changed and they fought back to clean the rivers and stop government, businesses and anyone else from dumping trash into the Blackstone. Excerpts from the 1972 David Rosser film will give you a pretty good idea how far the river has come, but it was a wide range of individuals who made a difference. The group was call C.A.N.A.L –Committee for the Advancement of Natural Areas in Lincoln (RI) and they were environmentalists before we knew what an "environmentalist" was. Join us as Along the Blackstone shows us why a housewife in the late 1960's climbed up on a bull dozer to ask the operator who he worked for so she could write that man a letter protesting the dumping of trash into the river –People Do Make a Difference.
"Developing the Woman's Political Voice" - Episode #57
America's story is full of contradictions for America's story is a complex one. When the Constitution of the United States was finally ratified, the African, the Native American and the Female were not included as fully vested, voting members of the new democracy. That privilege, that right to vote, would still have to be fought for, and that fight would be long, painful and bloody. These two struggles for freedom and equality, major reform movements of the 19th & 20th centuries, were connected - for women played an active role in the anti-slavery movement and would, in turn, become the leading advocates for their own freedom and equality. The question is how did they make that transition and who were the early pioneers who lead the way? Join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #57 explores how participating in the many reform movements provided skill development and leadership roles for many women and gave them a platform to assert their own independence.
"Discovering the River with the Paddle Club" - Episode #61
The Blackstone River and its tributaries make the Blackstone Valley a great spot for canoe and kayaking, yet must people seem to overlook this aspect of the river and only focus on its soiled past. Join us as Along the Blackstone gets you right on the river learning basic canoe and kayaking skills, practicing specific strokes and having just some good ol' plain fun on the river with the volunteer Paddle Club Safety Leaders of the Blackstone Valley and National Park Service Rangers. All are working to help everyone enjoy the river through developing better paddle skills.
"Farm to Factory - Factory to Farm" - Episode #62
The history of the Blackstone River Valley's role in America's journey towards industrialization is quite significant - it all started here in the Blackstone Valley. It was here where the workers began that migration from the farm to the factory. The daily work schedule was no longer dictated by the movement of the sun, but by the clanging of the factory bell. It was a change that the workers had to adapt to, but there was another change as well, the development of the Factory Farm. After all mill workers had to eat too. Join us as Along the Blackstone's Episode #62 introduces us to some of the men who milked the cows, loaded the hay, and transported the dairy products to rail heads throughout the Valley - all as part of the Factory Farm. You'll get a chance to hear some great stories as farm life and mill life come together.
Runtime: 29:59 - Copyright: January 2009
Most Americans don't realize just how extensive their National Park System really is for as of 2014 there are over 402 National Parks, Monuments, Battlefields, Historic Sites, Scenic &Recreational Rivers and National Seashores. This number does not include National Heritage Areas, Wild &Scenic Rivers, National Trail Systems and other Affiliated Areas. Our National Park System is huge. The question is what connects all these sites, these stories together? The answer is that they are all make up America's Story. So this episode of Along the Blackstone is really a pilot episode for (hopefully) a national television series on America's National Parks. The goal is to thematically connect America's National Parks –the big ones and the small ones, the well-known ones and the obscure ones. This episode "What Would You Do for Freedom?" starts at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell as we begin our journey looking at what American's did for their freedom at different stages of our nation's development. We visit Minute Man National Park in Concord, MA to learn what the Minute Men did for their freedom, then moved on to Boston to see what the free African American neighborhood on the backside of Beacon Hill in Boston did for their freedom and finally head down to New York Harbor to visit Ellis Island to learn what immigrants coming from around the world to the United States were willing to do for their freedom. It is a great journey and one many of us can relate to for it provides us with a great sense of just how wonderful our National Parks really are and the different stories they tell.
It is 1827 and the young Republic is bursting with economic energy. In South Grafton, MA, Peter Farnum and his sons are building a 4 story stone cotton textile mill. Just down the road, not more than 100 yards away, the Blackstone Canal Company is working its way north to Worcester, MA, building the 45 mile long Blackstone Canal. And on top of Keith Hill, is a robust community of Nipmuc, who have come back to their homeland after the devastating King Philip's War (1675 –1676). They have been here for some time, as stone masons, teamsters, basket weavers and the question we are going to attempt to answer here is, were the Nipmuc part of America's journey to industrialization? Were they engaged with the Irish canal builders and the yankee mill builders in their activities? Good labor was hard to come by. Joined by our good friends from UMASS-Boston, Dr. Steve Mrozowski and his team of archaeologists and members of the Nipmuc Nation, we will use archaeology as the tool to assist us in uncovering the past to better understand our community today. We will also see just how much fun archaeology can be.
"WE WALK!: Contested Landscape of Labor in the Blackstone Valley" -Episode #72
Work can be dangerous and with the development of the factory system, work became even more so. Rapidly moving parts of textile equipment with the emphasis on more production created an environment ripe for accidents resulting in personal tragedy. The need for workers to organize in their quest for better and safer working conditions, better pay, fair hiring practices to name just a few of the issues became an important part of America's journey towards industrialization. In this episode, we take a look at the 1824 female textile workers strike in Pawtucket, most likely the first female strike in the country, where workers and factory owners were still trying to figure out the complexity of this new economy. There is even a connection to the beginning of the Arab Spring with the walk-out in 2006 of female textile workers from the giant Mahalla Mill in Egypt. Using our good friends, labor historian, Professor Scott Molloy, URI and Al Klyberg, local historian and former Director of the RI Historical Society, we see how this struggle for basic labor rights took place. Finally, we talk with Professor Anne Mattina, Stone Hill College about the connection between the 1912 Bread&Roses Strike in Lawrence and the 1913 Strike at the Draper Mill in Hopedale.
Did You Know?
Samuel Slater, known as the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution," was born in Belper, England in 1768. He arrived in America in 1789 and helped to establish the Slater Mill in 1790. More...