• 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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2013 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 tours, offered on Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM from the end of May 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 May 30, at Asa Waters Mansion in Millbury, Massachusetts as we discuss the role of industry and enterprise in the early days of the Republic, as well as help celebrate Millbury's Bicentennial. Some new programs this year include a look at the effects of global warming in the region, an exploration of how the waterways of the Blackstone Valley were engineered to power the mills, and a chance to learn about some early Black artists in Providence.

Corridor volunteer and Woonsocket resident Irene Blais has participated many times in past years. "I really enjoy attending the Walkabout programs, because it is a wonderful opportunity to visit sites you have heard about so many times. Most of the time, the tours are smaller groups so they are more informal programs that allow you to ask questions of the rangers. It is also great to meet different people with the same interests joining you on the tours."

May 30 Armory Village and the Waters Family (Millbury) -Chuck Arning
"December 11, 1830, 21 tons of iron delivered by Canal to Millbury for Waters Armory Factory." - List of Freight on Board Canal Boat Rhode Island, Capt. Aldrich, Providence, 1830

Join us for a walk through Armory Village, including the historic Asa Waters Mansion, as we discuss the Early Republic's fledgling steps into the world of industry, the impact of 1812 on the economy of the region with a focus on the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of Asa Waters I & II and Thomas Blanchard. You will also get an insight into how small businesses dealt with the new federal government. It is also Millbury's 200th Birthday, learn more about how the town and its citizens plan to celebrate their 200th anniversary. The Walk starts at 6:30 PM at the Asa Waters Mansion, 123 Elm Street, Millbury, a quarter mile from the Rt. 146 Millbury Exit. While there is limited parking at the Mansion, there is adequate parking on the streets surrounding the Mansion. Wear good walking shoes and bring insect repellent.

June 6 Lonsdale New Village (Cumberland) - Kevin Klyberg
While known as "Lonsdale New Village," this area was the site of William Blackstone's home - the first English settler of the Valley that now bears his name. Come along and explore this vital village, from the days of William Blackstone through the era of the Ann & Hope Mill and on into the present day. According to NPS Ranger Kevin Klyberg, "Lonsdale is one of the best remaining places in the Blackstone Valley where the entire mill story can be seen. Adding on top of that the story of William Blackstone and the colonial settlement area, makes it one of the most historically diverse villages of the Valley." This free program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the William Blackstone Memorial Park, across the Ann & Hope on Broad Street in Cumberland, RI.

June 13 Slatersvile (North Smithfield) - Kevin Klyberg
Explore America's first planned mill village and 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. Meet in the North Smithfield Public Library parking lot at 20 Main Street, Slatersville, North Smithfield, RI.

June 20 Harrisville (Burrillville) - Kevin Klyberg
Join us for a tour of Harrisville, to see how small village in the "north woods" of Rhode Island transformed into the government center of Burrillville. Harrisville has undergone several transformations," said Ranger Kevin Klyberg. "From Andrew Harris' spindle and flyer shop in 1825, to A.T. Levy's construction of the Town's public buildings in the 1930s, the village has evolved to the modern town center it is today." This free tour begins at 6:30 pm at the Harrisville Falls, next to the Assembly on East Avenue in Burrillville, RI.

June 27 Climate Change at River Bend - Chuck Arning
"With stationary life, or rather with the pastoral state, man at once commences an almost indiscriminate warfare upon all the forms of animal and vegetable existence around him, and as he advances in civilization, he gradually eradicates or transforms every spontaneous product of the soil he occupies." - George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature, 1864

Join us for a walk through the woods on Goat Hill and view a well-known landscape with fresh eyes and a new awareness. Man has always manipulated the landscape to meet his needs, how is today different? We will examine the many notions about Climate Change as we walk through the forest on the way to the Goat Hill Lock. The talk will begin at 6:30 PM. Please bring bug repellent and water. We will meet at the entrance to the forest in the open field on the North side of Goat Hill, across East Hartford Ave. across from Tri-River medical Center. You can park in the open field by the entrance to Goat Hill or at River Bend Farm Visitor Center and make a short walk along the Tow Path, crossing East Hartford Avenue to the Open Field. You do have to be aware of heavy traffic along East Hartford Ave.


July 11 Stoneville, Auburn - Ken Ethier
The Town of Auburn has recently applied to join the Blackstone Valley Corridor. To learn more about our new partner community, please join a National Park Ranger and our hosts from the Auburn Historical Society to view Stoneville, a classic example of a mill village. Tour begins at corner of Auburn Street and Main Street at 6:30 PM. Park at Saint Joseph's Church, 194 Oxford Street, North Auburn, MA.

July 18 Roger Williams' Providence - John McNiff
Join a NPS Ranger for a lively, entertaining and informative look at the history and development of Rhode Island and its Capital City. Roger Williams' Providence looks at the changing face of this city, from the days of Roger Williams up to the present, a span of more than 360 years. Tour begins at the Roger Williams National Memorial, 282 North Main Street, Providence, RI at 6:30 PM. Call 401-521-7266 for more information

July 25 Black Artists of Providence - Ray Rickman
Join local historian and author Ray Rickman for a tour of Providence's College Hill, highlighting two renowned black artists from Providence: Edward Banister, America's first famous black artist and Sissieretta Jones, America's first famous black female singer. This program begins at the Roger Williams National Memorial, 282 North Main Street, Providence, RI at 6:30 PM.
August 1 "The People's Martyr: Thomas Dorr and His 1842 Rhode Island Rebellion" - Eric Chaput
Tonight is a special event, for Eric Chaput, Professor at Providence College, will discuss his newly published book, The People's Martyr, at the Glocester Town Hall. For many, Thomas Dorr is one of the most underappreciated American freedom fighters, for his quest for popular sovereignty in Rhode Island opened the doors for a broader view of what freedom meant in the dramatic setting of growing anti-slavery sentiment. In addition, Professor Chaput, will hold a book signing at the talk. The talk will begin at 6:30 PM. The Glocester Town Hall is at 1145 Putnam Pike (Rt. 44) in Glocester, RI, in the village of Chepachet.

August 8 The Eco-machine (Fisherville) - Peter Coffin
The "Eco-Machine" is 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 a National Park Ranger at Mill Villages Park to learn more about this new way of helping to protect and preserve the Blackstone Watershed. This program begins at Mill Villages Park, 61 Main Steet (Rt. 122 A) Grafton, MA, at 6:30 PM.

August 15: "The Revival of the Original Lyceum - Topic: Baseball in the Blackstone Valley" - Chuck Arning

"When it comes to singling out and naming the hotbed of Baseball in these United States, you can cross off your list such cities as New York, Boston, Chicago and Detroit. The most re-blooded center in America, inch for inch, soul for soul, is in the Blackstone Valley." -Worcester Massachusetts Spy,

1926 Before there was a professional minor league system, there was the Blackstone Valley League, an industrial league that played some of the finest baseball in America. The Friends of Asa Waters Mansion and the Blackstone River Valley NHC will present a Lyceum Program in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the Town of Millbury. A panel will discuss the early beginnings of baseball in America, and the role of the league in the development of the Blackstone Valley right up to its demise in 1950. Light refreshments will be served. The program starts at 6:30 PM at the Asa Waters Mansion, 123 Elm Street, Millbury a quarter mile from the Rt. 146 Millbury Exit. While there is limited parking at the Mansion, there is adequate parking on the streets surrounding the Mansion.

August 22: Manchaug - The Engineered Landscape Part 1 - Peter Coffin
Sutton's Manchaug village is a delightful example of a Blackstone Valley mill village. Its greatest claim to fame is that it was home to B. B. & R. Knight, makers of Fruit of the Loom. In order to run these mills, the Mumford River was transformed into a system of raceways and reservoirs that still define the village today. This program will begin at 6:30 PM, at the corner of Main Street and Whitins Road in Manchaug, Massachusetts.

August 29: Whitinsville - The Engineered Landscape Part 2 - Peter Coffin
Join a National Park Service Ranger to explore the village of Whitinsville. Learn about the role of the Whitin family in creating a textile machine empire, and their efforts to engineer the Mumford River and its tributaries to provide the water needed to run the massive Machine Works and their textile mills, as well as provide for the water needs of their workers. According to Ranger Chuck Arning, "Whitinsville is one of the finest examples of a paternalistic mill village in the Blackstone Valley. The Whitin family really left a mark on the community that remains to this day." This tour will begin at the Whitin Mill Parking lot, on Douglas Road, Whitinsville, MA at 6:30 PM.

Did You Know?

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