Ranger Walkabouts


The Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park and our partners will offer fourteen free programs on Thursday evenings from mid-May through the end of August. Each week we will be visiting a different site in the Blackstone Valley discovering some of the people and places that make the region a key part of the American story.

This year we will be visiting each of the sites named in the legislation that established the new park, so that folks can see why these places really epitomize the Blackstone River Valley story as the Birthplace of Industrialism in America. In addition we are also offering programs at some sites outside of the Park as well. There are so many great places to explore throughout the entire Blackstone River Valley, and we love having the opportunity to show visitors how the nationally significant themes of the Park are reflected at places across the whole region.

The Walkabouts are offered at a different site each week on Thursday evenings. The programs are free and begin at 6:30 PM.

CCC built Cabin

CCC Cabin at George Washington State Campground

May 21 - George Washington State Campground, Glocester, RI
The Rhode Island Civilian Conservation Corps
Between 1933 and 1941, some 15,000 young men participated in federal Emergency Conservation Work projects (Civilian Conservation Corps) fighting forest fires, building parks, creating trail systems, and other outdoor tasks throughout Rhode Island. Their legacy endures in our state forests, parks, and management areas. Join historian Al Klyberg in a CCC built cabin to hear their story.

Location: George Washington State Campground is on Putnam Pike (Rt. 44) in Glocester, RI. The cabin is about 1/2 mile in from the main gate, parking is available by the cabin. Click here for map of campground.

May 28 - Jenck's Store & Downtown Douglas
"Lists Matter: The Little Things that Make History Relevant" –The Jenck's Store in East Douglas.
Believe it or not, but our common lists, our Honey Do Lists, our weekly grocery lists, our lists of yard projects, tell a lot about how we live, what our daily life was like, what we ate, what chores we had to do.These little scraps of paper really tell a lot about ourselves.

There is no better place to learn about how we lived back in the mid 1800's than the Jenck's Store in East Douglas.We are teaming up with John Petraglia, Chair of the Douglas Historical Society to tell a rich story of life in the mid 1800's.

Location: 283 Main Street, E. Douglas, MA

June 4 -Manchaug Village, Sutton, MA
"The Death of a Mill Village, But Did the Mill Village Really Die"
Economic cycles are as old as the basic village market place.How does a village, a company, a community rebound after a severe economic downturn? What happened to the BB&R Knight Company and what was its impact on the Village of Manchaug? Join us as we explore the Village of Manchaug Good walking shoes are highly recommended as is bug spray.

Location: Manchaug Mill, 9 Main Street, Sutton, MA, parking available at the Mill on street.

Ashton Mill

Ashton Mill along the Blackstone River

June 11 - Slatersville, RI
"America's 1st Mill Village"
Join a National Park Ranger to explore Slatersville, part of the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. 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.

Location: 20 Main Street, North Smithfield RI, parking at the North Smithfield Public Library.

June 18 - Ashton, RI
"Evolution of a Mill Village"
Ashton Village and the adjacent Blackstone River State Park are sites within the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. From its beginnings as a tiny mill village through its growth spurts inspired by the development of the Blackstone Canal and then the railroad, the village of Ashton serves as a showcase for many of the Blackstone Valley's key stories. The tour begins at the Kelly House museum near Mile Marker 11 on the Blackstone River Bikeway.

Location: 1087 Lower River Rd., Lincoln RI Parking is available at three Bikeway Parking Lots: adjacent to the Kelly House, on the west side of the Rt. 116 bridge over the Blackstone, or in Ashton village, off Store Hill Road in Cumberland.

June 25 -The Worcester Hebrew Cemetery, Auburn, MA
"Explore Auburn and It's Heritage –The Newest Member of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor"
Auburn has a very strong connection to its surrounding neighbors;Oxford, Sutton, Leicester &Worcester.We will be teaming up with Ken Ethier of the Auburn Historical Society to gain further insight into the Town of Auburn's development.We will explore those connections and more as we tour portions of historic Auburn.

Location: 78 Havana Road, Auburn, MA, parking available on site

No Walkabout July 2

July 9 - Hopedale & Upton, MA
"The Workings of the Underground Railroad –Place to Hide in Hopedale & Upton"

We have all heard the legends of the secret hiding places for those individuals running for their lives, running towards freedom.But how true are those legends? We are going to try something very different and have a part walk / part drive to uncover the workings of the Underground Railroad here in the Blackstone Valley. We will meet in Hopedale and do a walk there, then jump in our cars –tracking a mileage carefully as we head up to Upton, MA to continue our exploration of the Underground Railroad.

Location: 56 Hopedale Street, Hopedale, MA, parking along Street

Shingle Mill at Waters Farm

July 16 - Waters Farm, Sutton, MA
"Farm Days & Ice Cream Social at Waters Farm"
Waters Farm is a hilltop homestead built in 1757 overlooking Lake Manchaug. With stunning views of the lake, barns, outbuildings, and pristine farmland, Waters Farm offers visitors a rare glimpse of 19th century New England farm life at its best. Join us this evening to see demonstrations of some of the skills used to run the farm over the centuries, as well as an ice cream social in a beautiful setting.

Location: 53 Waters Road, Sutton, MA, parking: By the Darling Barn.

July 23 - Worcester Bikeway, Cliff Street Bikeway Parking lot, Worcester, MA
"Riding along the Bikeway –Uncovering the Hidden Blackstone Canal & Other Worcester History"
The Bikeway can be a great preservation tool. Join us as we explore the Worcester / Millbury section of the Bikeway and discover what parts of Worcester history can be uncovered along this beautiful stretch of the river.

Location: Walmart & Rt. 146, Quinsigamond Village, Worcester, MA. Parking is at the north end by the Nursery & Flowers section, park close to the river / bikeway

July 30 - Millbury, MA (on Canal Street by historical wayside)
"One Locked-Up Town –Millbury & The Blackstone Canal"

Millbury has a total of 9 locks built into its hilly landscape to move the canal boats along on their journey to Worcester or back down to Providence at sea level. What remains of that extensive set of locks? Are there any traces of the canal left? Join us we explore and uncover pieces of the Blackstone Canal in Millbury.

Location: Millbury Credit Union, 50 Main Street, Millbury,
NBridge -Castle Hill Farm (MAY 2012) 5

Stone wall at Castle Hill Farm

August 6 - Roger Williams National Memorial, Providence, RI
"Pulling Back the Curtain –Understanding Roger William's 50 Years Later"

In 1965 Roger Williams National Memorial was created by Congress as a place where the concept of "Freedom of Religion" could be discussed along with Roger Williams words and beliefs that focused on the individual's conscience as the guide to religious belief, not the state. Now Roger Williams National Memorial is getting new Visitor Center and Wayside exhibits as part of its 50th Anniversary Celebration. Come along to get a sneak peak at a few of the new exhibit panels, and join in a discussion on the exhibit planning process and how the National Park Service has changed the way it tells stories over that past twenty years.

Location: 282 N. Main Street, Providence, RI 02903 Parking on site and along the street

August 13 - Whitinsville, MA
"A Stroll Up Castle Hill –The Factory to Farm Story"
Hidden away from view is this classic company farm, complete with prodigious stone walls, that begs the question, what happened here. We are teaming up with Jack Campbell, member of the Northbridge Historical Society who has done some extensive research on the farm. Join us as we explore a beautiful landscape of farm, waterpower and industrialization that is part of the new . This is an up-hill walk starting at the base of Castle Hill Road and the Douglas Road. This is a moderate to strenuous walk, but it's all down hill at the end.

Location: Corner of Castle Hill Road & Douglas Road, Whitinsville, MA

August 20 - Slater Mill, Pawtucket, RI
"Pawtucket Falls –More than Slater Mill"
The 1793 Slater Mill is now part of the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, in honor of its role as the first water powered cotton spinning mill in America. The Pawtucket Falls, however, has been a center of manufacturing since 1671, powering machines that did much more than spin cotton. Join us to discover some of the rest of the Pawtucket Falls story.

Location: Address: 67 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02862, plenty of space at the mill parking area

August 27 - Chepachet, RI
"The Hidden Mill Village"

Today Chepachet, RI is best known as a shopping center, a role it has played for over two hundred years. But Chepachet was once home to several mills, and the site of one of the most important events in Rhode Island's political history that was spurred on by industrialization. Join us to hear these stories of Chepachet's hidden past.

Location: Meet at Glocester Town Hall 1145 Putnam Pike, Chepachet, RI, parking in the rear of Town Hall.

September 3 –Hopedale, MA
"From Commune to Company Town"

From religious commune to factory town, Hopedale has a long and vibrant history.Beginning with a small group of religious idealist seeking to create a perfect community, Hopedale evolved into the home of the largest manufacturer of looms in America at the Draper Corporation.Come along with a National Park Service Ranger from the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park to explore this town and discover some of these fascinating stories.

Location: meet the ranger at Hopedale Unitarian Church, 65 Hopedale Street, Hopedale.

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