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Science and Signs and Secretary in Summer, Oh My!
Happy summer to you all -- what a summer it has been so far! We are celebrating the installation of new interpretive signage in Slatersville. Many thanks to the research and planning of our Interpretation & Education staff and the hard work of our Facilities & Maintenance staff. We have been enjoying public programs with the help of our three dedicated science interns and one archaeology intern.
It all paid off in June, when U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited to recognize our hard work and success in setting up the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.
And we are not done yet! Roger Williams National Memorial has some incredible public events in the upcoming Saturdays in Providence. Not to mention Walkabouts, Towpath Talks, and Bike the Blackstone. We offer a wide variety programs and activities for you to enjoy – many of which are held in collaboration with our amazing partners, so please look over our list in this newsletter.
As the summer winds down, we will release the draft General Management Plan (GMP) for public review and comment and host several in-person and online public meetings for the Environmental Assessment (one component of the GMP). You can find out more information about that on our website.
Our staff and I wish you a wonderful latter half of the summer, and we look forward to seeing you at a program, activity, and meeting very soon.
-Superintendent Eric Breitkreutz
Secretary Haaland Visit to Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
On Friday, June 16, 2023, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland completed a multi-day trip to Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Secretary Haaland met with leaders from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and Narragansett Indian Tribe. She concluded her tour with a visit to Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in Pawtucket, RI.
Federal, state and local leaders including Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Seth Magaziner, Governor Daniel McKee and Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien were present at Old Slater Mill National Historic Landmark to greet the Secretary.
In July 2021, Haaland established the boundaries of the park, which includes Old Slater Mill National Historic Landmark.
Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park:
Join a park ranger every Saturday at 1:00 PM at Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park for a guided walk along the towpath in Blackstone River State Park (Lincoln, RI). Tours leave from the Kelly and last between 45 - 60 minutes. In case of inclement weather (which we've had plenty of lately) - Towpath Talks will be held in the Kelly House Barn. The tours continue each Saturday through September 2023.
Join us for a walk through the valley
Through the end of August, park staff offer specialty tours on Thursday nights. These are hosted at varying locations across the Blackstone River Valley. All begin at 6:30 PM and are 60-minutes long.
Please wear comfortable footwear and bring water. Most tours are outside and often include walking on uneven surfaces on varying types of terrain with no access to bathroom facilities. Bug spray and sunscreen are also highly suggested.
Of Farms and Factories: Waters Farm, 53 Waters Rd, Sutton, MA
Tour a historic farm and homestead in beautiful Sutton, Massachusetts! This walkabout will consider the important role that local farmers have played in the evolution of industry in New England. This program is presented with the team at Waters Farm Preservation Inc.
Adaptive Reuse in Manchaug, 9 Main Street, Sutton, MA
How do you recycle a mill building? Learn the history of Manchaug, a mill village in rural Massachusetts, and see the creative adaptation of an old industrial complex. Meet local historian Christine Watkins and learn about work in a restored mill space. Presented in partnership with Deb Dunleavy, Manchaug Mills, Inc.
Founders’ Day in Ashton, 1075 Lower River Rd., Lincoln, RI
What was the Rhode Island System of Manufacture? Learn about the growth of industry, the development of the mill village, and how these historic buildings are still in use today.
Free overflow parking is available at the Ashton Village Parking Area (for the Blackstone River Bikeway) on Front Street.
Labor Day Preview at Slater Mill, 67 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, RI
Sam Slater did not build the mill that bears his name; but who did? Join us for a special labor history tour of Old Slater Mill. Hear the stories of child laborers, recently emancipated African Americans, and local craftsmen who built the machines, processed the cotton, and built the structure itself.
Bike the Blackstone with Us!
Explore the Blackstone River Valley this summer. Join community VIPs and rangers for guided bike rides along the Blackstone River Bikeway. Guided rides begin at 5:30 PM on Wednesdays in July, August, and September. Tours are between 3-6 miles in length and are offered at varying locations. Bikes and safety equipment are not provided and must be brought by participants.
Labor Day Weekend at Slater Mill
Workers throughout United States history have celebrated Labor Day on the weekend prior to the federal holiday, enjoying picnics and music with members of their community.
We invite you to take part in this tradition at Slater Mill this September! Come for specialty tours, free lawn games, or live music acts. Open Thursday-Sunday, September August 31 -September 3, 2023.
River Bend East Songwriters Festival
The 2023 River Bend East Songwriters Festival will occur Friday, September 1st through Saturday, September 2nd at Slater Mill National Park, 67 Roosevelt Ave., Pawtucket, RI 02860, along the banks of the beautiful Blackstone River! This year's festival will "kick off" with a Friday evening multi-media event featuring J. Michael Graham, High Planes, and David Lawlor (Run of the Mill). Music will begin at 6:30 PM.
The festival continues Saturday afternoon, September 2, 2023, with a showcase of the region's best singer-songwriters. Free admission for both events and fun for the whole family!
Roger Williams National Memorial:
Join us at Roger Williams National Memorial in downtown Providence on Saturday, August 19th for two showings of Bliss Body, presented by The Everett Company Stage School at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM. It is a piece that collages dance, imagery and true stories, to explore and share experiences of bliss. It is a provocative and moving hour of dance and theater that includes quiet meditation and energetic dancing, that considers peace and struggle, that asks how we find bliss in today's world. It is an invitation to be present, let go, join in and feel bliss!
Saturday Morning Yoga
Yoga is back! Through September 30th, visitors can experience the natural beauty of Roger Williams National Memorial while enjoying a Saturday morning yoga session. In collaboration with Jala Studio, the class is perfect for all levels and follows a vinyasa practice. It's free and open to everyone. During the session, participants practice yoga poses, breathwork, and meditation while being surrounded by nature's inspiration. Kindly remember to bring your yoga mat or towel.
Science Saturdays at Roger Williams National Park are on the second Saturday of August and September. Show your science pride by having your favorite animal or plant painted on your face! The Roger Williams Park Zoomobile, the Rhode Island Black Storytellers, Providence Parks, US Fish and Wildlife, and others will all be there as we explore our world! Free, August 12 and September 9 from 1:00 - 3:00 PM at 282 North Main Street, PVD.
Other News at
Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park:
Out in the Valley
New Signs in Slatersville
There are signs of change in North Smithfield! Look for new waysides in Slatersville, RI, when you are out exploring the park.
Slatersville Tour on the NPS App!
The North Smithfield Heritage Association has a new NPS sign outside its offices in Slatersville, RI. From left to right are Jeffrey Harris, Rich Keene, and Sam Turco. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Combs.
What’s New in Whitinsville?
The Armenians of Whitinsville project is expanding! With generous support from the State of Massachusetts, the non-profit team will have a chance to expand their database and preserve local Armenian history. Sign up for their newsletter HYELIGHTS here.
Other News at
Roger Williams National Memorial:
This summer, Roger Williams National Memorial hosted its first summer fellowship. Tatum Pelletier is an undergraduate student at URI majoring in Wildlife Conservation Biology. She has spent her summer learning about the basics of federal land management by getting her hands dirty. She has assisted with multiple special events at the National Memorial as well as within Blackstone River Valley.
Sometimes, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference though. Take a look at the magnificent sunflowers growing next to the 282 North Main Street visitor center next time you drive by. Tatum has spent some of her free time with this fellowship tending that particular garden.
Once her fellowship is over, Tatum will be back at URI where she will graduate next spring. After that, she hopes to join the military and then bring those skills to a career in public service in America’s National Parks.
This June and July, Trevor Lamb served as an Archaeology Interpretation Development Intern at Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.
Trevor is a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University in the Anthropology department. He led several walking tours, including a walkabout in Valley Falls. Trevor also offered a training on Archaeology 101 for members of the National Park Service Volunteers-In-Parks program with Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
Trevor leaves the Blackstone Valley to continue his work for BU. He will spend the month of August at a field school in Alaska.
Last updated: August 4, 2023