Uxbridge to Kick Off Blackstone Heritage Corridor Cleanup Season

Whitinsville, MA (March 13, 2017) – In preparation for the annual spring cleanup season, Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) reached out to each community within the National Heritage Corridor and has a couple of exciting new additions this year. For starters, the Town of Uxbridge is kicking off the 2017 cleanup season with a town-wide cleanup on Saturday, April 1 from 9 a.m. to Noon.

“The Uxbridge community came together very quickly on this one,” noted Bonnie Combs, Marketing Director at BHC, who also manages its Trash Responsibly™ program. “The Board of Health and DPW were very supportive, as well as Boy Scout Troop 25, Koopman Lumber, Premeer Real Estate, and First Night Uxbridge, Inc., which is providing free hot dogs to all volunteers. Premeer Real Estate is providing music and entertainment and is debuting its new Green Team, and Koopman Lumber has donated trash bags. The celebration starts and ends on the Town Common, in the heart of Uxbridge. Volunteers can register in advance and select a street at tinyurl.com/UxbridgeCleanup.”

In preparation for its 350th Anniversary this year, the town of Mendon, MA, is hosting its community cleanup on Saturday, April 8 from 9 a.m. to Noon, meeting at the Clough School. Volunteers will be treated to a free lunch, compliments of the Mendon Lions Club, and Southwick’s Zoo is giving volunteers a coupon for a free admission to the zoo. “The momentum is building in Mendon after last year’s cleanup where over 75 volunteers came out,” noted Combs. “We’re pleased to see such enthusiasm from the community to keep it clean.” Volunteers can register and select a street at www.Mendonma.gov/cleanup.

April 8 is also a busy day in Worcester, MA, where the Regional Environmental Council hosts its 28th Annual Earth Day Cleanup from 8 a.m. to Noon. According to organizers, this is a city-wide cleanup of parks, gardens, and neighborhoods involving more than 1,000 volunteers who will pick up more than 50 tons of trash at more than 60 locations throughout Worcester. The same day, the Ten Mile River Watershed Council is hosting its Earth Day Cleanup at Slater Park in Pawtucket, RI. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. and will disperse along the Ten Mile River. April 8 is also “Yellow Bag Day” in the Town of Cumberland, RI, and is presented by The Valley Breeze. Residents can pick up yellow trash bags ahead of time from The Valley Breeze office in Lincoln and the town collects the bags the following Monday… Click Here to continue reading full press release.

Immediate Opening for Administrative Assistant

Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc., (BHC), based in Whitinsville, MA, has an immediate opening for the position of a full-time Administrative Assistant. This position is critical to the operation of the non-profit organization. In addition to maintaining office systems, this person serves as the front line for visitor reception for both Blackstone Heritage Corridor (BHC) and the National Park Service.

Essential skills include experience with maintaining office systems and mailing systems. Must be organized, have good writing and editing skills, and knowledge of MS Excel, WordPress, and Constant Contact. Good customer service skills also desired. For full job description, please click here.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Please submit resume and cover letter by Monday, March 20, 2017 to jobopening@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

Little Red Shop Museum Completes Historical Archive

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charlene Perkins Cutler, Executive Director
508-234-4242
ccutler@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org

Hopedale Historical Commission Benefits from BHC Partnership Grant
Little Red Shop Museum Completes Historical Archive

Whitinsville, MA (March 8, 2017) – Important historical documents and artifacts in Hopedale, MA, have been successfully archived thanks to a Partnership Grant from Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC). The Grant was awarded to the Hopedale Historical Commission and allowed the Little Red Shop Museum to properly preserve a collection of artifacts, documents and photos.
“The proper cataloging and display of these important materials will help us to better tell Hopedale’s story,” explained Sue Ciaramicoli, curator at The Little Red Shop Museum. “This includes Hopedale’s role in the industrialization of America, and the town’s rich history told through the public lives of a number of prominent Hopedale families whose impact was felt far beyond Hopedale.”

An added benefit of the grant, Ciaramicoli noted, is that it helped create interest in the project from the community. “Many new partners and volunteers came forward which made a significant impact,” Ciaramicoli added. “We grew from a team of four to a team of 12 volunteers, and even more continue to join us.”

BHC provided $3,725 in grant funds and was matched by cash, in-kind donations and volunteer time. Funds from the BHC portion allowed for the purchase of archiving equipment and the storage of a loom which was removed from the Museum to allow more space for the cataloging project. The Grant helped cover storage fees until the loom could reach its final destination at the Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation (NCCHP) in Granville, MA. Local companies including Howe’s Welding and G&U Logistix helped with the trucking and logistics in addition to NCCHP.

According to Ciaramicoli, the temporary storage of the loom prevented it from being scrapped. “Now it is safely housed at NCCHP with the other six Draper power looms that were moved there in 2015. Collectively, they can continue to tell the story and link back to Hopedale.”
In addition to the need to scan photos and documents and catalogue them, a bookcase was needed to allow the Museum to properly store showcase important artifacts. E.W. Tarca Construction built and donated a custom bookcase.

“This grant was a catalyst,” Ciaramicoli remarked. “It brought life back to this museum and revitalized its mission. We are better able to tell the important story of Hopedale, which is why it was included in the new National Historical Park.”
The Hopedale Village Historic District was identified as one of the “nodes” of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. Established in 2014, the new Park will help preserve, protect and interpret the nationally significant resources that exemplify the industrial heritage of the Blackstone River Valley.

BHC Executive Director Charlene Perkins Cutler applauded the work. “While there is much work to do before the vision of the Park comes to life, BHC was pleased to provide Partnership Grant funding to the Hopedale Historical Commission to accomplish their important work, and assist Hopedale as it becomes part of the new National Historical Park.”
About Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc.:

An energetic nonprofit, the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. partners with organizations, local communities, businesses and residents to ensure the long term vitality of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Learn more at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

Birding on the Blackstone

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charlene Perkins Cutler, Executive Director
508-234-4242
ccutler@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org

BHC Announces Bi-State “Birding on the Blackstone” Program

Volunteers will lead spring bird walks in MA and RI parks of the National Heritage Corridor
A flock of volunteers will lead a “Birding on the Blackstone” program this spring in parks in both the Massachusetts and Rhode Island portions of the National Heritage Corridor. Pictured here (left to right) are Paul Milke, Beth Milke and Rosanne Sherry.
Whitinsville, MA (March 8, 2017) – Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) announces a spring birding program that will take curious birders to parks in the National Heritage Corridor during the height of migration season.

The weekend bird walks will fall on Saturdays and Sundays between April 23 and June 4 and will run from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. The walks are led by BHC’s Volunteers-in-Parks program members Rosanne Sherry of N. Smithfield, RI, and Beth and Paul Milke of Uxbridge, MA. The three of them met during a bird walk program last fall and are collaborating on this new program and other events throughout the year.

Birding on the Blackstone kicks off on Sunday, April 23 along the Blackstone River Bikeway in Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI. The walk begins at the I-295 Visitors
Center in Lincoln and is led by Rosanne Sherry. Participants will watch for territorial activity and early nest building. On Saturday, April 29, Beth & Paul Milke lead a bird walk at River Bend Farm at the Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park, 287 Oak Street, Uxbridge, MA. The Milkes will take birders along the field and woodland edges of the farm looking for bird species that usually arrive in early spring such as Eastern Phoebe, Tree Swallow, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Towhee and possibly Yellow-Rumped Warbler. On Sunday, April 30, Rosanne returns to the Blackstone River Bikeway in Lincoln, RI, when she expects migration and nesting will be in full swing. “Baltimore Orioles and Rose-Breasted Grosebeaks may be in the area,” she predicts. “We’ll likely see Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles fighting for territory in the marsh area under Route 295.”

On Sunday, May 7, Rosanne, Beth and Paul join together at the new Blackstone River Greenway, meeting at the Blackstone, MA, parking lot on Canal Street. This is the first official bird walk on the newly completed section of the Greenway. The trio will lead walkers to search for Bald Eagles, water birds, and song birds. On Sunday, May 21, Rosanne travels to a new location at the Ten Mile River Greenway in Pawtucket, RI, where birders will meet her at the parking lot by the Loof Carousel in Slater Park. According to Rosanne, the river is calm in this location and birders may see many Warblers and other land birds in the woodland and marshes. “We’ll look and listen for Common Yellowthroat, Carolina Wren and Eastern Bluebirds,” she notes. On Saturday, May 27, Rosanne, Beth and Paul meet up at River Bend Farm again in Uxbridge, MA, to take birders out to the fields where the trio expects participants will view Orioles, Flycatchers, Grosbeaks and Warblers. “There’s a chance we’ll also hear and see Black-billed Cuckoo and Indigo Bunting, too!” they announced.

On Saturday, June 3, the Milkes will take birders to West Hill Dam and Park in Uxbridge (518 E. Hartford Ave.). “The West Hill Park walk will take us from the top of the dam, over the river and through the woods to survey birds on the park’s reclaimed grassland,” Beth notes. “We’ll hope to find Prairie Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Towhee, and Field Sparrow. Warbling Vireos should be calling near the marsh where we’ll look for Wood Ducks and Great Blue Herons.” The spring birding series concludes on Sunday, June 4, at the Blackstone River Bikeway in Lincoln, RI, with Rosanne, who predicts the walk may be quiet as birds nest or feed their young, but that the group will look for signs of productivity. “We will follow up on the Eastern Phoebe and the Northern Rough-Wing Swallow who nest near the foot bridges,” she points out. “American Robin and Gray Catbird nests may be spotted, and we may even see who is fishing in the river.”
According to Suzanne Buchanan, Volunteer Coordinator at BHC, this program speaks volumes about the possibilities for volunteers who join the program. “Rosanne came forward over a year ago, expressing interest in offering bird walks to share her knowledge and passion for birding,” she explains. “After her first series in Rhode Island along the Blackstone River Bikeway, she created one at River Bend Farm in Uxbridge, MA, that fall and that is where she met Beth and Paul Milke. It was kismet. The three have become great friends and plan programs together. Whatever skill or interest you have, chances are we can find an opportunity for you to share that through our Volunteers-in-Parks program.”

To participate in one of the scheduled bird walks in Rhode Island, register at BlackstoneBirds@gmail.com or call BHC at 508-234-4242. To register for one of the bird walks in Massachusetts, email BlackstoneBirdsMA@gmail.com or call River Bend Farm at 508-278-7604. Further directions will be sent upon registration. If there is rain at the time of the program, it is canceled. Binoculars and field guides are suggested. Children 12 years and older are welcome on all programs. A complimentary Blackstone Valley Adventure Pack will be given to those who pre-register, while supplies last. All walks are listed on BHC’s events page at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org/events.

The Birding the Blackstone program is presented by BHC in partnership with the National Park Service Volunteers-in-Parks, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), and Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MA DCR).

Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Construction Services

Kelly House Replica Barn BHC seeks qualifications from companies interested in constructing a replica barn at the site of the Captain Wilbur Kelly House and Transportation Museum located off Lower River Road in the Blackstone River State Park, Lincoln, RI.

Click Here for Full Details

Please note:

Qualifications must be submitted in a single PDF document less than 5 MB. Submit qualifications by email to MDiPrete@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org. Proposals are due no later than 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, March 10, 2017. All submissions will receive an acknowledgement of submittal, generally within 24 hours, sent via “reply” to the submission.

Frozen Fish

Where do the fish go in the winter?  Do they hibernate?  Do they bury themselves in the bottom of the rivers and ponds somehow?  The fresh waters of Blackstone Valley have two types of fish:  warm water and cold water varieties.

During the cold months, warm water varieties such as bass and sunfish slow down and lower their metabolism.  They can go for long periods of time without eating, a good thing considering their food supply is extremely limited in the winter months.

Other fish such as the three Ps (pickerel, perch and pike) are still active in cold water.  That means they are hungry and will go after bait.  This works out well for the ice fisherman, not so well for the pickerel, perch and pike.  Trout are the exception:  they slow down in winter waters but can still be enticed to go for the bait of fishermen.

There is a scientific explanation.  Fish are poikilothermous (cold-blooded); their body temperature follows that of the environment.  While they are regulated by nutrition, photoperiod (daily length of light exposure) and water temperature, the reduction of temperature is what causes their metabolisms to slow, some species more than others.  In fact, some species actually experience brief superficial freezing or super cooling (without freezing) and remain alive.  Fish that are active or semi active in the winter usually seek areas of deeper water where only the top layer freezes into ice.

Come to think of it, one usually sees ice fishermen on ponds and lakes, never on a shallow stream.

Historic Snow Storms

Ever since New England was colonized in the early 17th century, dealing with the frigid conditions of winter has been a challenge.  It was a startling change for settlers recently arrived from England to realize that their new home had more snow than they were used to but also much colder temperatures.

In February and March of 1717, “The Great Snow” covered southern New England in a series of four storms.  It deposited nearly 4 feet on the ground and drifts were reported as high as 25 feet.  Roads were impassable, communities were isolated and supplies did not move overland or along the coastal waterways.  The only successful post runner from New York to Boston made the trip on snowshoes.

In November of 1798, the region was hit with “The Long Storm;” from Maryland to Maine nearly continuous snow fell between the 17th and 21st.  Another notable storm in December of 1811, “The Cold Storm” of 1857 and the “Blizzard of ‘88” all made the record books.

Snow and how to handle it became a focus of communities large and small.  In the rural towns, early snow removal depended on shoveling the white stuff out of the road.  While it was not until the 1840s that the first patents were issued on snow plows, New Englanders came up with an earlier invention – the snow roller.  It was a large wooden cylinder drawn by horses over roads to compact the surface and make the snow more or less uniform.  It allowed sleds to proceed with fewer ruts and it was also safer for horses and riders.

But I’ll take the orange trucks any day!

First at the Feeder, Last to Leave

Every time I look out at my yard I see juncos.  They are the first ones to arrive and the last to leave.  During the recent cold weather, I spent some time with a cup of tea watching these little visitors who had turned into roly poly balls of feathers accented by beaks and legs.

At first I felt sorrow for them until I realized that the temperature didn’t bother them in the least.  As long as birds can feed, they will do just fine in frigid weather.  Most species use the cover of evergreens or natural cavities to protect themselves and birds can lower their body temperature, heart rate and metabolism to adapt to the cold.  Plus they have all that natural insulation.  Juncos fluff up their feathers creating a layer of air between the feathers and the skin, a tiny down jacket that adds warmth and girth creating their ball-like appearance.

The little juncos may not have the glam of the cardinals or the audacity of the blue jays, but I think these little guys are the life of the bird feeder party.  They rarely exceed about five inches in length.  The dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis, is one of the most common birds in North America.  There is much variation in color from one subspecies of junco to the other.  The ones in my backyard are eastern dark-eyed juncos or the slate-colored juncos.  There are dark slate gray feathers on the heads, chest and upper body and white feathers on the lower breast and abdomen.  Their bills are pink and their distinctively long tails are very dark gray with flashes of white feathers on the outside edges.  Of course, those are the males…the females are decked out in much less distinctive shades of brown and gray.  Isn’t that always the case?

BHC Awards Volunteers During Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park’s 2nd Anniversary

Receiving awards for volunteer service from Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) at the 2nd Anniversary celebration of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park are (left to right): Jack Crawford and Annika Bangma, both of Youth Unlimited Serve Project; Suzanne Buchanan, Volunteer Coordinator at BHC; Benjamin Cote of Ten Mile River Watershed Council; Sarah Carr and Anne Conway, both of the Museum of Work and Culture, and Rosanne Sherry. Not pictured is Steve Emma. BHC manages the Volunteers-in-Parks program for the National Park Service and recognized these volunteers and groups for their outstanding contribution to the volunteer program in 2016. To learn more about the program, visit BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

Whitinsville, MA (December 14, 2016) – Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) presented awards to several volunteers for their outstanding service with the National Park Service’s Volunteers-in-Parks program that it manages. The awards were presented during the second anniversary celebration for the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.

Among those recognized for their individual impacts were: Benjamin Cote, Rosanne Sherry, and Steve Emma. Groups recognized for outstanding service include the Museum of Work & Culture and Whitinsville Serve 2016.

Benjamin Cote, a resident of Pawtucket, RI, and also president of the Ten Mile River Watershed Council, is a new volunteer with BHC and signed on to present walking tours for BHC’s 2nd Annual GO! program this past September. Cote received the “Outstanding GO! Tour 2016” award for his “Lanterns, Ghosts and King Philip’s War” walking tour at the Cumberland Monastery in Cumberland, RI. The event drew the largest audience of a volunteer-led GO! experience with nearly 100 attendees.

Rosanne Sherry, a resident of N. Smithfield, RI, a lifelong-birder and career horticulturalist, received the “Outstanding Interpretive Program Award.” Rosanne presented “Birding on the Blackstone” walking tour series in both Lincoln, RI, at the Blackstone River State Park, and in Uxbridge, MA, at the Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park. “It was an exceptional program that educated people about the fauna of the Blackstone Valley and it inspired new stewards,” Charlene Perkins Cutler, BHC’s Executive Director noted.

Steve Emma, a resident of Providence, RI, has made Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI, his second home and volunteers to maintain the Blackstone River Bikeway by fixing broken posts and cutting back invasive weeds such as poison ivy and bittersweet. Emma received the “Outstanding Natural Resource Volunteer” for 2016. “He is poison ivy’s worst enemy, and the Bikeway’s best friend,” noted Suzanne Buchanan, volunteer coordinator at BHC. “He is out there in all kinds of weather and has helped recruit new volunteers to our program. People see him in action and ask how to get involved.” Buchanan added that Emma has been outfitted with special orange gear for all kinds of weather and special safety signage to display that helps identify him as volunteer with the Volunteers-in-Parks program and warns passersby of the work zone.

The Museum of Work and Culture (MOWC) in Woonsocket, RI, received the “Outstanding VIP Group Partnership Program Award.” According to Buchanan, this award recognizes MOWC volunteers for their knowledge, inspiration and graciousness. Over the past year, MOWC volunteers contributed 1,437 hours of service with an in-kind donation value of $33,856.

Whitinsville Serve 2016 received the “Outstanding Special VIP Project Award” for 2016. The award recognizes the 104 volunteers who participated in the Youth Unlimited service project hosted by the Pleasant Street Christian Reform Church of Whitinsville, MA. They logged a total of 3,168 volunteer hours and volunteered in the communities of Northbridge, Uxbridge, Millville, Douglas and Grafton over the span of one week in July. Their service resulted in an in-kind donation valued at over $73,000. “They came to visit, not to stay, but their impact is felt here every day,” Buchanan commented upon presenting the award.

To learn more about the Volunteers-in-Parks program, visit BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org/doing/vipprogram or considering attending BHC’s next Volunteer Open House on Monday, January 9, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at BHC’s office at 670 Linwood Avenue, Whitinsville, MA. To register, RSVP to Suzanne Buchanan at Volunteer@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org or call (508) 234-4242.

About Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc.: An energetic nonprofit, the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. partners with organizations, local communities, businesses and residents to ensure the long term vitality of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Learn more at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

Eben Norton Horsford and His Famous Powder

Horsford was a Harvard professor who, in 1856, began his experiments to develop a leavening agent that was not yeast-based.  A leavening agent causes a chemical reaction – it creates gas bubbles that softens doughs and batters, increasing their volumes and lightening their texture.  Horsford wanted to invent a powder leavening agent that would release carbon dioxide, raising the dough but without the taste and odor of yeast fermentation.

Horsford set up his chemical works in the Rumford section of East Providence.  He tested a number of substances before settling on a combination of calcium acid phosphate, sodium bicarbonate and, eventually, corn starch.  His “recipe” was that one teaspoon of the leavening agent should raise a dough/batter of one cup of flour, one cup of liquid and one egg.   He first marketed this new product as Horsford’s Yeast Powder.  He was very successful.  In 1869, because he wanted to package the powder in a tin can, he added corn starch to prevent moisture.  Over the years, bakers throughout the world have become familiar with the iconic red can of Rumford Baking Powder, whose formula has remained unchanged in 1869.  In 2006, Rumford Baking Powder was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark.  Rumford Baking Powder remains the leading baking powder in the United States.