Enjoying the Blackstone
The story of the Blackstone River and Canal can be told from many vantage points. Perhaps the best way to experience its history and beauty is on the waterways themselves. Throughout the watershed, the river and canal segments form an interesting and sometimes seamless exploration of the Valley and its industrial heritage where you will discover the dams, canal locks, bridges and other structures that tell the story of “America’s Hardest Working River”.
The main stem of the river meanders 46 miles from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island through urban landscapes, historic villages, farmlands, and forests. The Blackstone drops an average of almost 10 feet per mile. This drop allowed for the development of the many mills you will see along the way. Today, 18 dams are still in place and present paddlers with the challenge of several portages in certain stretches of the river.
Providing access to the river is one of the priorities of the Corridor Commission and plans are underway to improve access points and portages. While present pollution levels allow only recreational fishing in the Blackstone River, there are strong constituencies working to build support for water quality improvement.