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

    Blackstone River Valley

    National Heritage Corridor MA,RI

Ranger Walkabouts

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2014 Ranger Walkabouts

The Park Rangers and volunteers of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor will once again be offering their Thursday Night Walkabouts this summer. The Walkabouts are free public programs, offered on Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM from June through August. Each week you will have a chance to explore a new community, or head down an unknown trail and discover some of the people and places that make the Blackstone Valley such a fascinating place.

This year the schedule kicks off on June 5, at the 1770 Quaker Meeting House in Uxbridge, Massachusetts as we hear about some of the Fiery Females and Freedom Seekers who made the Blackstone Valley their home, at least for a short time. Some new programs this year include tours of the villages of Rockdale and Manville, an exploration of H. P. Lovecraft's Providence, and a look at the building of a rain garden.

According to Ranger Chuck Arning, "the Walkabout series is a great opportunity for us as Rangers to share some of the tales of the Blackstone River Valley. People who join us each week really get a sense of the diversity of the region. While the beginning of the American Industrial Revolution and the transformation from Farm to Factory is our core theme, there so many branches from that story that we can discuss. From canals and transportation, to the Underground Railroad and even our colonial past, the breadth of the Heritage Corridor gives us a wide range of topics.

Ranger Kevin Klyberg adds, "we really enjoy doing these Walkabouts because it gives us a chance to take people to some of the often overlooked jewels of the Blackstone Valley. Some of these tours are old favorites, but doing the Walkabouts also give us a reason to do more research to either create an entirely new program, or to add fresh twists to stories we have told a dozen times before.


 
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June 5 – 1770 Quaker Meeting House, South Uxbridge: A lecture in an historic building.
"In Haste, Thine for Truth in Humanity, degraded and enslaved."
"Go where you are least wanted, for there you are most needed." - Abby Kelly Foster

One of the most significant historical figures in America when it comes to talking about the Abolitionist Movement and Women's Rights, Abby Kelly Foster called the Blackstone Valley her home. The 1770 Friends Meeting House in South Uxbridge was her meeting house….then she said, "I'm outta here." Why? What was it like to be a "Quaker"? How were issues sorted out? What made Abby Kelly leave her faith or was it her organized faith left her? And, what is the connection to the Underground Railroad? Join Ranger Chuck Arning and Carol Masiello of the Uxbridge Friends for an interesting evening of discussion.

Parking: Quaker Meeting House is located at the intersection of Rt. 146A and Rt 98 in Uxbridge, MA. Limited parking up by the site itself; driveway can be tricky. Parking also along the highways – Rt. 98 & Rt. 146A.

June 12 – The Village of Rockdale: The Typical Mill Village
The walking tour of Rockdale offers the visitor a wonderful mill village experience because the pieces of the "typical mill village" are all still here. Symmetry. Balance. A photographers delight. Join Ranger Chuck Arning as the group explores what the Rhode Island System of Manufacturing looked and felt like in your typical mill village.

Parking: We will utilize the large parking area by St. Peter's Church, 39 Church Street, just off Rt. 122, Rockdale, Northbridge, MA

June 19 – Fisherville/ECO Machine
Fisherville was once home to a mighty textile mill. Today it is home to the "Eco-Machine" - a water treatment system that uses water plants and mycelium to break down the oil, chemicals and nitrates that have polluted the Blackstone Canal. Join our partners from the Blackstone River Coalition at Mill Villages Park to learn more about the history of Fisherville and this new way of helping to protect and preserve the Blackstone Watershed.

Parking: Mill Villages Park, 61 Main Steet (Rt. 122 A) Grafton, MA.

June 26 – Upton State Forest, 205 Westboro Road, Upton, MA A Walking Tour of the Civilian Conservation Camp at Upton State Forest
It was the "worse, hard time" ever. The Great Depression; thousands out of work, a nation in despair. Yet America has always been a place where new ideas and new ways of thinking have gained traction. As a way to deal with the huge unemployment rolls and a despairing nation, Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it changed everything. Join Ranger Chuck Arning and Ellen Arnold, Friends of Upton State Forest, for a tour of one of the few remaining CCC camp sites and learn how these young men put their mark on the America we know today.

Parking: Park right by the camp inside Upton State Forest. Take the Westboro Road off Hopkinton Street by Pratt Pond. Follow Westboro Road to park on right.

Note: If using a GPS to get to this program, enter 205 Westboro Road as your destination and do not use Upton State Forest

 
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July 3 - NO PROGRAM

July 10 - Nine Men's Misery: King Phillip's War & the Blackstone Valley
K
ing Phillip's War (1675-76) was fought between the Nipmuc, Wampanoag, and Narragansett Nations against the recently arrived English settlers. This war stretched across the Blackstone Valley, much of southeastern New England, and up into New Hampshire. Join a Park Ranger to learn about this conflict, and visit the earliest veterans' memorial established in the United States. This program includes a trail walk, please wear sturdy walking shoes. Walk will begin at the gazebo behind the Cumberland Library.

Parking: Plenty of parking is available in the Cumberland Library Parking lot, 1464 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, RI.

July 17 - The Story of William Blackstone: A costumed interpretation
The Reverend William Blackstone was the first permanent English settler of the River Valley that now bears his name. Ranger John McNiff will appear at the Cumberland Library as the Reverend Blackstone in a costumed interpretation that will allow you to get a better understanding of the man known to some as the "Sage of the Wilderness."

Parking: Plenty of parking is available in the Cumberland Library parking lot, 1464 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, RI.

July 24 - H. P. Lovecraft Walk: A Writer in Providence
Famed horror writer H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) lived in Providence for most of his life, and he made the city the setting for some of his most popular works. Lovecraft also wrote thousands of letters, many of which have been published, which detail his love of his home city. Join Sarah Zurier, a historian with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission as she discusses H.P. Lovecraft's writings about Providence's rapidly changing cityscape and his attempts to make the case for preserving historic places.

Parking: This program will begin at the Roger Williams National Memorial, 282 North Main St., Providence. Use the Memorial's parking area (entrance at corner of Canal Street and Smith Street), and there is parking along North Main Street.

July 31– The American Civil War & General Ambrose Burnside – A Misunderstood General
A Walking Tour of Burnside's Providence – Moderate Walk w/ steep Hill

General Ambrose Burnside is a very prominent Rhode Islander with a much maligned Civil War past. Yet is what we know about General Burnside really true. Civic minded. An elected Governor and an entrepreneur, but the reputation as a very bad general. Is it true? Is it fair? Join Ranger Chuck Arning and Greg Mierka, Civil War Historian, to learn more about this fascinating man.

Parking: This program will begin at the Roger Williams National Memorial at 282 North Main St., Providence. Use the Memorial's parking area (entrance corner of Canal Street and Smith Street), and there is also parking along North Main Street.
 
Manville Map Everts and Richard 1895

August 7 – Manville: Mill Village on the Blackstone
Manville has been a manufacturing center since 1711 when Israel Wilkinson opened the Unity Furnace to produce iron. Later it was briefly home to the largest cotton mill under one roof in America, and Manville village spanned both sides of the Blackstone River to house the 2,000 mill workers who toiled here.

Parking: The tour begins at the Manville Landing, at the foot of Manville Hill Road, Cumberland, RI, adjacent to the Blackstone River.

August 14 - Slatersville: America's First Mill Village
Join a National Park Service Ranger to explore America's first planned mill village. Learn how John Slater came to this site along the Branch River to expand the Textile Empire that his brother Samuel had begun in Pawtucket in 1790. Slatersville is not only the first planned mill village in America, it is one of the best preserved. Almost all of the elements of the original village, from the mill, to the worker housing, the church and the company stores still remain.

Parking: Parking is available at the North Smithfield Public Library parking lot at 20 Main Street, Slatersville, (North Smithfield), RI.

August 21 – Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park, Uxbridge, MA
"Climate Change & the Blackstone Canal"

Much has been said and written about our changing climate, but the actual visual impact of it is hard to see here. What can our historic structures tell us about our changing climate? What do we need to do to preserve them?

To get a better understanding of just what is happening to our climate and gets glimpse of what its impact will be to our historic landscape, join Rangers Chuck Arning and Kevin Klyberg as they jointly explore the meaning of climate change and our historic structures along the Blackstone Canal towpath between River Bend Farm the Stanley Woolen Mill

Parking: Good parking at the River Bend Farm Visitor Center, 287 Oak Street, Uxbridge MA.

August 28 – Rain Garden, Slatersville Public Library

A rain garden is a specialized garden that collects rainwater runoff from paved areas and other hard surfaces. Rain gardens soak up the stormwater, helping to reduce runoff into storm drains or nearby bodies of water, which can cause erosion and water pollution. Join our partners from the Blackstone River Coalition to see learn about some rain gardens they have built, some plans for a new garden in Slatersville, and pick up some tips on how you can make your own rain garden to help protect the Blackstone Watershed.

Parking: Parking is available at the North Smithfield Public Library parking lot at 20 Main Street, Slatersville, (North Smithfield), RI.

Did You Know?

Canoe shooting Millbury rapids on Blackstone River

That the Blackstone River is getting cleaner? Efforts are underway to transform the Blackstone, once considered "dead' due to a century of industrial abuse, into a fishable and swimmable river by 2015!