Video Post Card from the Blackstone River through Rhode Island and Massachusetts
The Blackstone River Valley is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. From Wooster, MA to Providence, RI, 19th Century factories used water power to produce cotton thread and textiles, and to manufacture other raw products into consumer goods. Materials and finished products were moved along a 67 mile canal that was dug by hand and completed in 1828. On each side of the canal, there was a towpath for the donkeys and horses that pulled the freight barges through the canal. Today that towpath is a bikeway through the valley, thanks to a cooperative effort between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
By 1848, a railroad had been constructed along the route, and the canal closed the following year. For the next 100 years, the Blackstone River was abused by the industries located along its banks. It became inhospitable to the wildlife that had attracted Native Americans to fish, hunt, and live there before Europeans arrived. The river “died” according to local accounts. In 1972, after the passage of the Clean Water Act, an initiative to clean up the river was launched by local activists, called ZAP the Blackstone.
Slowly, the ecology of the river improved. Today, it is host to native plants and animals once more. The water does not smell foul as it once did. The towpath has been converted to a beautiful, accessible recreational trail, that traces much of the short-lived canal that was there almost 200 years ago.
Peter Evans RI Lincoln Apr 02, 2021 Nature
Location: Lincoln, RI
Peter Evans Apr 02, 2021
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