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

    Blackstone River Valley

    National Heritage Corridor MA,RI

Valley Sites - Cumberland, Smithfield, North Smithfield

Ashton Mill Village

Ashton Mill Village

CUMBERLAND

William Blackstone chose wisely when he decided to build his home in what would become Cumberland, RI. Today Cumberland blends the bustling mill villages of the valley with the rolling hills above.

Ashton Village
A quintessential example of a mid-19th Century Mill Village, Ashton was built in 1867 as the Lonsdale expanding its operation. Today, much of the village including brick working housing and the massive mill remains intact. Ashton is also an entrance site to the Blackstone River Bikeway.

Store Hill Road, off Rt. 122.
Cumberland, RI

Diamond Hill Park
Named for its mile-long face of veined granite quartz, Diamond Hill provides a number of recreation opportunities. The view from the top of Diamond Hill, formerly a small ski slope, is spectacular. There are a number of hiking trails to explore all over the park. Open from sunrise to sunset.

Diamond Hill Road
Cumberland, RI
(401) 728-2400

Monastery
Former Cistercian Monastery now owned by the Town of Cumberland and used as a recreation area and home of the Cumberland Library. Site of Nine Men’s Misery, where nine English soldiers from Pierce’s Fight, a battle in 1676 during the King Philip’s War, were taken and tortured to death by Narragansett warriors. Open sunrise to sunset.

Diamond Hill Road
Cumberland RI
(401) 728-2400 www.cumberlandlibrary.org/monasterypage.htm

 
Detail of Allen Mill powertrain

Deatail of powertrain used at Valley Falls Mill c.1830. Click to see expanded pdf.

Valley Falls Heritage Park
Educational park built on ruins of Valley Falls Company Mill. Interpretive displays explain how Blackstone River was harnessed to power factories, and the growth of the Valley Falls Mills and village. Open dawn to dusk.

Broad Street
Cumberland, RI

Blackstone River Theatre
The mission of Blackstone River Theatre is to present the performing and visual arts; to offer arts education; and to preserve and support the cultural diversity and heritage of all types of traditional folk music, dance and visual arts with an emphasis on those groups that settled in the Blackstone River Valley. Blackstone River Theatre is dedicated to promoting and developing the arts for our community and its artists by creating awareness, offering performance opportunities and promoting involvement through participation.

549 Broad Street
Cumberland, RI 02864
(401) 725-9272
www.riverfolk.org

William Blackstone Memorial Park
Small park dedicated to the memory of William Blackstone, first permanent English settler of the Blackstone Valley. Located near the site of his home, includes memorial marker and interpretive panels about his life. Open sunrise to sunset.

Broad Street
Cumberland, RI

 
Smith Appleby House

Smith Appleby House

SMITHFIELD

Smithfield was established out of Providence in 1731 and included what are now Central Falls, Lincoln, North Smithfield and half of Woonsocket until 1871. Modern Smithfield is a delightful combination of small mill villages along the Woonasquatucket River and rolling hills that once were farm fields.

Georgiaville
Georgiaville is a wonderful example of a mill village, including rare stone houses. Originally built by Zachariah Allen in his vision of an idealized mill village, many of those qualities remain today. Homestead Avenue, off Rt. 104.

Homestead Avenue
Smithfield, RI

Smith Appleby House
Smith Appleby is a beautifully restored mid 18th Century farmhouse, now operated by the Smithfield Historical Society. Call for tours and special events.

220 Stillwater Road
Smithfield, RI 02917
(401) 231-7363.
www.smithapplebyhouse.org

RI Audubon Society/ Powder Mill Ledges Wildlife Refuge
This 76-acre refuge contains some fine trails. The refuge is also the headquarters for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island that runs an education center here. Open year round, from dawn to dusk.

12 Sanderson Road
Smithfied, RI 02917
(401) 949-5454.
www.asri.org

 
Stone arch bridge over the Branch River at Slatersville

Stone arch bridge over the Branch River, Slatersville

NORTH SMITHFIELD

It was along the Branch River, not the Blackstone, here in North Smithfield that America’s first mill village was built. Those mill villages still serve as the core centers of North Smithfield even as it has continued to grow into a modern town.

Slatersville
Slatersville is the first planned industrial mill village in the United States. Founded in 1807 when brothers Samuel and John Slater were looking for a site to build a mill where they would not have to compete with other employers for workers. To provide for their workers needs the Slaters needed to provide housing, stores, churches and a school – a plan that served as a blueprint for mill villages all over the United States.

School Street and Main Street
North Smithfield, RI

Red School House
This 1877 Schoolhouse is home of the North Smithfield Heritage Association, and contains a meeting space, exhibits and their library. Call for events and hours.

School Street
North Smithfield, RI

Union Village
A delightful example of a turnpike village, Union village retains much of its charm from the Federal Period. Union Village boomed from 1800-1820 when it was an important stagecoach stop on the route along Great Road. Along with taverns, Union Village was also home to a hat shop, an academy and the Union Bank from which it gets its name.

Smithfield Road (Rt. 146A)
North Smithfield RI

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.