New Visitor Center Opening

New Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center in Worcester Opens October 27

Festivities Include Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Community Celebration

Whitinsville, MA (October 22, 2018) — Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) announces the opening of the new Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center at Worcester on Saturday, October 27. Festivities begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:00 a.m., followed by a community celebration from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Visitor Center is located at 3 Paul Clancy Way, Worcester, MA, and will also serve as the future location of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Central Region Headquarters.
The new Visitor Center will be an interpretive, recreational and cultural resource serving as a gateway to the City of Worcester and the communities located in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. It’s strategically located on Route 146, moments away from the Mass Pike, Routes 20, I-190, I-290 and I-395, and sits adjacent to the historic Blackstone River and Canal and Worcester’s new Blackstone Gateway Park.
“This state-of-the-art facility will be a connecting hub for the newly created Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, important state parks in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and the Blackstone River Bikeway,” explained Devon Kurtz, Acting Executive Director for BHC, and project coordinator for the exhibits at the Center. “The exhibits explore the Valley’s enduring legacy of
innovation and invention; immigration, ethnicity, and cultural traditions; transportation history; and changes to architecture and landscapes.”
“The Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center at Worcester is a signature project for the City of Worcester, the communities of the Blackstone Valley and for all of Central Massachusetts,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “I am proud to have played a role in securing the federal investments necessary to make this project a reality. In conjunction with the new Blackstone Gateway Park and the recently completed Quinsigamond Bike Spur, the visitor center will spur significant economic development – not only in Quinsigamond Village, but throughout the region.”
The building’s design reinforces themes of industrial history and environmental conservation and reclaimed vital resources from the former brownfield site. The LEED Certified Silver structure features reclaimed brick walls, reclaimed wood flooring, a furnace powered by sustainable wood pellets and solar panels supplying electricity and providing shade. Bioswales, vegetated areas designed to filter stormwater by capturing pollutants, will filter all the water runoff from the building and parking lots, cleaning the water before it is released into the environment.
“The Visitor Center is such an exciting project because it plays a number of important roles for our community,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “It’s a site that helps tell the story of the Blackstone Canal and its role in the rise of Worcester as a powerhouse of the American Industrial Revolution. Serving as a gateway into the City, it functions as a launch point for both residents and visitors to learn about the many exciting opportunities we offer. Representing a key investment in the Quinsigamond Village neighborhood, this is a project the City and entire region can be proud of.”
According to Kurtz, a powerful visitor experience will be delivered by unprecedented interactive exhibits, reproduction objects, and evocative sculptures within a 4,000-square foot exhibit hall as well as compelling outdoor elements on the 6-acre site. The Visitor Center also features a theater/classroom space which seats 64 people theater-style, with sink, digital projector and AV, and direct access to exterior deck overlooking the river. An adjacent storage room can serve as a caterer’s prep space. The space is available for rent for corporate meetings and private functions.
“Having lived in the Quinsigamond Village neighborhood all of my life, I have seen our neighborhoods transform through effective partnerships and determination,” said Dan Donohue, Massachusetts State Representative. “We still take pride in our industrial heritage and its place in history as one of the anchors of the Industrial Revolution. The district that is my honor to serve encompasses all of the neighborhoods surrounding the new Visitor Center. My constituents not only look forward to begin using the site and its exhibitions for their own exploration, but they clearly see the
economic impact that this Center and its exhibitions will provide in encouraging both our neighbors and tourists to explore and support our region’s businesses.”
“College of the Holy Cross is proud to support the Visitor Center and its mission to educate visitors and residents alike,” said President Fr. Philip L. Boroughs. “For 175 years, Holy Cross has grown along with the Blackstone Valley, and we are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to this showcase of its rich history.”
“The MassDOT Highway Division is pleased to have managed the construction for this signature project in coordination with local, state and federal partners,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “The now completed Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center at Worcester provides a multi-use path to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians through the Heritage Corridor adjacent to the building, which includes exhibits as well as observation areas over the water on the new truss style pedestrian bridge crossing the canal.”
“The new Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center is a wonderful space for visitors and the local community to enjoy,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “The Baker-Polito Administration is thankful to have strong partners like Congressman McGovern, MassDOT, and the Blackstone Heritage Corridor Inc., who are committed to the people of Worcester and introducing visitors to this beautiful region and its rich industrial history.”
The Visitor Center, Blackstone Gateway Park and improvements in the Quinsigamond Village neighborhood total approximately $26 million. This was accomplished with support from the Federal Highway Administration funding and other national, state and regional resources, and brought forward by a coalition of partners including Congressman Jim McGovern, Massachusetts’s 2nd Congressional District; Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor; National Park Service; Senator Michael Moore, 2nd Worcester District; Representative Dan Donahue, 16th Worcester District; Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation; Massachusetts Department of Transportation; City of Worcester; and College of the Holy Cross.
The interpretive exhibits were developed, manufactured and installed by BHC. It received grant support from Stoddard Charitable Trust, Fletcher Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, and Fred Harris Daniels Foundation.
Sponsors of the opening day’s festivities include Mirick O’Connell, UniBank, Navigant Credit Union, Harry and Lucy Whitin, Donna and Ted Williams, Richard Gregory, Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, College of the Holy Cross, Congressman Jim McGovern, Open Sky (formerly Alternatives and The Bridge), Kathleen Polanowicz, William Beitler, Millbury Federal Credit Union and Polar Beverages.

The Visitor Center will be open daily, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 5:00 p.m.
For more information, call (508) 234-4242 or email mail@BlackstonerHeritageCorridor.org. Learn more about the Visitor Center and Blackstone 
Heritage Corridor at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

BHC Announces 2019 Calendar Photo Contest Winners

     Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) has announced the winners of its 2019 Calendar Photo Contest and plans for a calendar release party at Wormtown Brewery on Friday, October 19. Judging of the photo submissions this year was done by volunteers of the Blackstone Heritage Corridor Photography Ambassadors. With the theme for the 2019 calendar being “The Legacy of Transportation in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor: Yesterday and Today,” the nine judges reviewed the photos which best met the required theme and were tasked with making the selections for the twelve months, plus the cover photo. All judging was done blind, without knowledge of the photo’s owner, and critiquing included composition, clarity and relevance to the theme and location.
     This year’s cover photo titled “Same Canal, Different Boats” was taken by Suzie B. of Harrisville, RI, at Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park, Uxbridge, MA, while volunteers from the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club were coming ashore. The photo captures active transportation with the kayakers in the historic Blackstone Canal and its location in the National Heritage Corridor is identified with a Blackstone Canal sign on a tree.
     John Kloczkowski of North Uxbridge, MA, captured a Providence & Worcester Railroad train plowing the tracks in Uxbridge, MA, making for the perfect January photo in the 2019 calendar. Judith Belben of Milford, MA, spent time underneath the illuminated Kenneth Burns Bridge in Worcester, MA, and the judges felt the soft pink undertones were a great fit for the month of February. With snow starting to disappear from the landscape, Mark J. Paine of Woonsocket, RI, took his camera down along the Providence & Worcester Railroad train tracks in Woonsocket and captured a stunning shot of the rails. The judges slotted his shot for March. With the leaves still barely on the trees in April, judges selected Bob Evans’ photo of a rustic, antique fire engine, Engine #8, sitting in a field in his hometown of Northbridge, MA.
     Judith Belben had a second image selected for the 2019 calendar and it was her photo of two older men in a small, antique-looking fishing boat taken in Hopedale, MA, that caught their eye. With their backs to the camera’s lens, she captured the serenity of the moment on a sunny spring day. It leaves the admirer wondering what they could have been talking about. Belben’s fishing boat photo is slotted for the month of May.
Mary M. Silva of Northbridge, MA, captured a small bridge on Mendon Street in Uxbridge, MA, adorned with wooden yellow flowers. “The Flower Bridge” was selected for the month of June.
Diane M. Sears of Hopedale, MA, says she was walking with a friend when they happened to walk upon an old fashioned wagon and was encouraged to enter the shot into the photo contest. Her photo was slotted for the month of July as the wagon is adorned with an American Flag perched over the back of its seat.
     On a beautiful, sunny summer day, Dennis M. Smith of Uxbridge, MA, was standing below the Route 116 bridge in Lincoln, RI, on the bank of the Blackstone River just north of the Captain Wilbur Kelly House Museum. It was there he captured his “Arches Over the Blackstone” photo highlighting the stunning architecture of the bridge. The bone-colored bridge stands majestically against a crisp blue sky accented with puffy white clouds, green foliage on the trees and a dark blue river running below. Smith’s photo appears in the month of August. September’s photo was taken by Carole Carnovale of Mendon, MA, and she chose to submit a unique perspective of the popular Triad Bridge in Millville, MA. Titled “Rails Over the Blackstone,” Carnovale’s photo highlights the rich rust color of the bridge as the rails cross over the Blackstone River. The little bit of fog gives it a slight element of mystique.
     While taking a walk on a fall day in the area of the Shining Rock Golf Course in Northbridge, MA, a winding, paved cart path caught Mary M. Silva’s eye and it caught the eye of the photo contest judges too. They selected it for the October photo in the Blackstone Heritage Corridor’s 2019 calendar.
     Steve Lariviere of Northbridge, MA, captured the Blackstone Valley Excursion Train making a trip through Northbridge, MA, one year. The judges found the train’s red and black colors striking against the fog it was traveling through and selected it for the month of November.
      Mary M. Silva had a total of three of her photos selected this year, much to her surprise in this blind judging. In the evening hours, she captured an ornate snow-covered footbridge at Elm Park in Worcester, MA, crossing over Lincoln Pond below. Known as the “Iron Bridge,” it is adorned with heart-shaped ironwork and decorative supports. The bridge is a recreation of the 1881 original by Henry Edwards and its replica was installed in the historic Elm Park in 1972.
     The 2019 Blackstone Heritage Corridor calendar also features blueprints for a paper model of The Lady Carrington Canal Boat printed on the back page. The same blueprints can be found on Blackstone Heritage Corridor’s website in the GearHeads section.
A Calendar Release Party will be held Friday, October 19 at Wormtown Brewery (72 Shrewsbury St., Worcester, MA) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. To tie into the transportation theme, Wormtown Brewery will donate $1 from each pint of Rocket Pale Ale purchased in the taproom that day. Wormtown’s Rocket pays tribute to Dr. Robert Goddard, the genius who invented the liquid-fueled rocket, not far from the brewery. October 19 is noted as “Robert Goddard Anniversary Day,” the day celebrated as his inspiration for rockets. According to historical records, on this day, when he was just 17 years old, Robert Goddard was up in a cherry tree pruning branches when he imagined making a device having the possibility of ascending to Mars and how it would look on a small scale. It’s said he knew then what he wanted to do with his life. On March 16, 1926 he successfully launched the first liquid-fueled rocket from a field belonging to his aunt in Auburn, MA. He named it Nell and it flew 41 feet high and landed 184 feet way in just 2.5 seconds.
     Blackstone Heritage Corridor’s 2019 calendar will be available for sale late October at its office located at 670 Linwood Avenue, Whitinsville, MA, and on its website at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org. For more information, call (508)234-4242.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  Contact:  Bonnie Combs, Marketing Director
                   (508) 234-4242
                   Bcombs@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org

 BHC Announces 2019 Calendar Photo Contest Winners
Calendar Release Party to Be Held at Wormtown Brewery on October 19

After Six Successful Years at BHC, DiPrete Accepts Position at RI DEM

Whitinsville, MA (April 3, 2018) – Following six successful years at Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC), Megan DiPrete has accepted the position of Chief, Division of Planning and Development at Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM).

DiPrete was the first full-time staff person at BHC, starting her tenure in May of 2012. She was instrumental in transitioning BHC from a Federal Commission to the thriving non-profit organization that it is today, working to help develop the organization’s first-ever 10 year strategic plan, refreshing the branding and logos, and creating a new web site.  For the past year, she has served as BHC’s Executive Director, focusing her efforts on establishing a plan for the long-term sustainability of the organization.

Drawing on her experience in both community planning and construction management, DiPrete brought a number of projects to BHC’s portfolio that protect the natural and historical resources of the Blackstone River Valley, cultivate a generation of stewardship and enhance the community vitality of the 25 cities and towns in the National Heritage Corridor. DiPrete’s work with BHC has always kept an eye toward how community visions and project opportunities might fit together. For example, when she became aware of state funding available to purchase bike racks in Massachusetts, DiPrete reached out to the eligible communities and helped complete the grant planning and reporting. Ultimately, bike racks, fix-it stations and other cycling infrastructure worth more than $20,000 was installed in 8 communities. 

In Rhode Island, the Blackstone River Watershed Council / Friends of the Blackstone was hoping to partner with a state agency and the National Park Service to construct a replica barn at the Kelly House and Transportation Museum in the Blackstone River State Park.  Learning that the partners had the will, DiPrete and BHC stepped in with “the way” and facilitated the construction process and project management.

From the very beginning, DiPrete’s work with the not-for-profit organization has included shepherding the development of the Blackstone River Bikeway, a 48-mile long on-road and off-road bike system.  When DiPrete joined BHC in 2012, the project was about 35% complete. Entering 2018, the Bikeway is nearly 60% complete, and other sections are in construction and design. DiPrete was also responsible for guiding BHC in the move to Whitinsville. In 2015, Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor operations had been based at the historic Woonsocket, RI Depot building for more than 20 years.  When notified that landlord/owner RI DOT had other plans for the space, DiPrete took the lead by identifying the Linwood Mill office space. Not only is the site nearly in the geographic center of the National Heritage Corridor, but the building itself is a reclaimed mill deeply connected to the nationally-significant stories of the Blackstone River Valley. Redevelopment of the site in recent years preserved the integrity of the structure and included environmentally-sensitive techniques.

“It is difficult to leave,” DiPrete said recently.  “Having been part of the transition to a strong non-profit organization, part of the resurgence of volunteer stewardship throughout the region, working with an amazing team of people and shepherding projects that will have a lasting impact, I am so pleased not only with what we have shown we can do, but am also excited for the possibilities of the future.”

Deputy Director Devon Kurtz has been named Acting Executive Director while BHC’s Board of Directors prepares for an Executive search.

Join us as we bid farewell to Megan on Tuesday, April 10 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in BHC’s office, 670 Linwood Ave., Whitinsville, MA. Drop in to share congratulations and best wishes. Light refreshments will be served.

 

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.

 

BHC Announces 2018 “Birding the Blackstone” Program

Volunteers to lead specialized workshops, bird walks and more
throughout the National Heritage Corridor

 Whitinsville, MA (February 26, 2018) – Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) announces the return of its volunteer-led spring birding program which this year will include some new additions to take the program to exciting new heights.

            Two “Birding by Ear” workshops will be led by Beth and Paul Milke, highly experienced interpretive volunteers with the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program which is operated by BHC in coordination with the National Park Service.  “Experienced birdwatchers often hear and can identify birds before seeing them by listening to their songs and calls,” Beth Milke explained.  The workshop will teach participants what makes these calls unique and offer tips on developing their skills.  The “Birding by Ear” workshops will be at BHC’s office in Whitinsville, MA, on March 13 and April 10.

            The 2018 “Birding the Blackstone” program also includes the return of the “Sky Dance of the Woodcock” event at River Bend Farm visitor center in MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (MA DCR)’s Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, in Uxbridge, MA, on Saturday, March 24.  “The field at River Bend Farm is prime habitat for the American Woodcock, a shorebird with large eyes and a long bill,” Milke explained.  “At dusk, participants will listen for the male Woodcocks’ unusual call, and track the flight by the sound of their wings.”

            There will also be four weekend bird walks in April and May at locations including US Army Corps of Engineers’ West Hill Park in Uxbridge, MA; MA DCR’s River Bend Farm in Uxbridge, MA; RI Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI; and RI DEM’s Lincoln Woods State Park, also in Lincoln, RI.

            And new this year, BHC is offering a “Birding by Boat” event on June 9.  By partnering with Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone (BRWC/FOB) and departing from BRWC/FOB’s Environmental Education Center in Lincoln, RI, there will be a terrific opportunity to enjoy a brief workshop on identifying birds followed by a paddle on the Blackstone River where those skills will be immediately put to use.

            For complete event details, visit BlackstoneHeritageCorrridor.org or call the office at (508) 234-4242.  Program brochures are also available.

The Birding the Blackstone program is presented by Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) in partnership with Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MA DCR), Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), and Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone.

 

              

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.

New Skills Workshops Enhance the Volunteer Experience in National Heritage Corridor

Whitinsville, MA (February 5, 2018) – A series of workshops designed to enhance the volunteer experience with Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC), and the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park (BRVNHP) is bolstering the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program which the two entities co-manage.  The VIP Skills Workshop Series launched last fall, and already nearly a dozen workshops have provided unique education and skills training for nearly 200 volunteers, with some of the workshops being made available to the general public.

               “Our volunteer program continues to grow and is attracting a wide-range of different interests,” explains Megan DiPrete, Executive Director at BHC.  “By offering these Skills Workshops, we’re able to give volunteers education and training which will enhance their skill sets and their ability to share their knowledge and passion with others when they lead program activities throughout the year.”

               The workshop series launched in October with an Enviroscape™ training, which is a table-top model designed to educate people of all ages about how pollutants affect a watershed.  The Enviroscape™ can be used in school settings, libraries, community events, and more.  VIPs who attended the workshop are now eligible to sign out the Enviroscape™ model and take it to events to continue to foster stewardship for the environment.  America Recycles Day on November 15 was celebrated with a public-offered Skills Workshop at Casella Waste Systems in Auburn, MA.  People from all over the National Heritage Corridor were provided a behind-the-scenes experience and now have additional tools to teach others to be better recyclers.

              In December, VIPs received a behind-the-scenes tour at the Ladd Observatory in Providence, RI, to learn how to read the night sky and learn the history of the telescopes housed at the centuries-old observatory managed by Brown University.  Also in December, BHC offered a free sewing workshop, giving instruction on how to make a repurposed tote bag made from plastic seed and feed bags.  The latter skills workshop was open to the public and was held at the new Blackstone Valley Education Hub at the Linwood Mill in Whitinsville, MA.

               In January, BRVNHP Ranger Joshua Boles offered an open-to-the-public oral history skills workshop at the Little Red Shop Museum in Hopedale, MA, so participants could learn new skills on how to best interview people to capture important history.

               CPR and First Aid training was offered to volunteers of BHC’s Bikeway and Trail Ambassadors, as well as the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club in February, followed by open-to-the-public training on Maple Sugaring at Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, MA.  These volunteers will put their skills training to immediate use by providing assistance to MA DCR staff at the upcoming Maple Sugar Days event at the Park March 3 and 4.

               In March, a Visitor Services Skills Workshop is being provided by BRVNHP Ranger Joshua Boles, and later in the month VIPs will have an opportunity to learn about Cemetery Conservation Skills.  This training opportunity is being offered by VIPs Betty and Carlo Mencucci at the Burrillville Historical and Preservation Society.  The Mencucci’s are professional gravestone conservators and members of the Association of Gravestone Studies and the Burrillville Historical Society.  The workshop will be open-to-the-public and will provide training on the proper method of conserving gravestones.  Participants will learn about various stone types as well as different techniques and materials used in the conservation process.  The training precedes Cemetery Awareness/Preservation Day in Rhode Island on April 14th and the Mencucci’s and other historical groups will be hosting volunteer cemetery restoration events at which these skills and knowledge can be put to use.

               Additional upcoming skills training opportunities include a workshop on accessible cycling.  Training will include information on disability etiquette, the types of cycles that are available, adjusting the cycles to individual participants, and learning to ride the variety of adaptive cycles.  BHC partnered with All Out Adventures (AOA) in October, 2017, to present an assisted bicycle ride for VIP Margaret Carroll of Millville, MA, and this skills workshop will prepare the Bikeway Ambassadors for future events in the National Heritage Corridor.

               To learn more about the Skills Workshop Series and the Volunteers-In-Parks program, contact Suzanne Buchanan at volunteer@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org or call (508) 234-4242.  In addition, a Volunteer Open House is scheduled for Tuesday, March 6 at BHC’s office at 670 Linwood Ave., Whitinsville, MA.

Blackstone Heritage Corridor Announces Board Appointments

  Press Release                                                         

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  Contact:  Megan DiPrete, Executive Director
                    508-234-4242
                    mdiprete@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org

Blackstone Heritage Corridor Announces Board Appointments

 Whitinsville, MA (January 12, 2018) – Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) announces appointments made to its Board of Directors.  At its annual meeting in January, held at Millbury Federal Credit Union, an election of officers and directors was held.  Directors re-elected for a 3- Year Term include:  Joseph Barbato (MA), Robert Billington (RI), Michael D. Cassidy (RI), Allen Fletcher (MA) and Todd Helwig (MA).

Other members of the Board include:  Lee Dillard Adams (MA), Bill Beitler (RI), Anne Conway (RI), Pieter de Jong (MA), Gary Furtado (RI), John Gregory (RI), Jeannie Hebert (MA), Richard Moore (MA), Dennis Rice (MA), Harry Whitin (MA) and Donna Williams (RI).

The Board of Directors also elected officers:  Chair, Harry T. Whitin; Vice Chair, Richard H. Gregory; Secretary, Todd Helwig; and Treasurer, Gary Furtado.

 

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.

BHC Announces 2018 Calendar Photo Contest Winners

2018 Calendar Cover - Blackstone Heritage Corridor

 Press Release              

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Megan DiPrete, Executive Director

508-234-4242

mdiprete@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org

 

BHC Announces 2018 Calendar Photo Contest Winners

Whitinsville, MA – (September 7, 2017) – Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) has selected the images for its 2018 calendar, curated from submissions by local photographers in a photo contest focused on the Blackstone River and the watershed.

Wendy A. Henschel of Whitinsville, MA, submitted a stunning image of the Linwood Falls in Northbridge, MA, titled “Change of Seasons” which landed her the coveted cover shot for the 2018 Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Calendar.

The New Year begins with a scene of Lake Nipmuc in Mendon, MA, captured near sunset with a darkened sky and the sun’s fading light glistening off snow-studded trees and reflecting in the water below. This photo was captured by Carole Carnovale, a resident of Mendon.

“It was fascinating to see the geographical shift in submissions this year,” noted Megan DiPrete, BHC’s Executive Director. “Each year we choose a different theme, and this year’s focus on the Blackstone River and the watershed pulled in a larger percentage of photographs taken in the Massachusetts portion of the National Heritage Corridor. Just two locations, the dam at Linwood Mill, home to BHC, and the Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, MA, accounted for more than two dozen of the photos received this year.”

That being said, it was difficult to overlook some of those and as a result, a winter shot of the Linwood Falls was selected for the February calendar image, taken by Wendy A. Henschel who also submitted the colorful Linwood Falls image which secured the cover.

It was the stunning contrast of blue paint on the gears of the Mumford River Flood Control that captured the attention of the judges looking at Carol Dandrade’s photo taken at Whitin Machine Works along the Mumford River in Northbridge, MA. An Uxbridge, MA, resident, Dandrade’s photos have appeared in BHC’s calendars the past few years, and this photo was selected to appear in March.

Mark J. Paine of Woonsocket, RI, was in the right place at the right time as a swan came in for a landing on the Blackstone River in Cumberland, RI. Paine snapped an incredible image of the swan’s descent upon the water, reflecting a mirror image below its wing-stretched body and casting a magnificent splash around itself. This powerful image was selected for April.

Suzanne Buchanan of Harrisville, RI, was riding her bicycle along the Blackstone River Bikeway in Blackstone, MA, and stopped to admire the railroad bridge crossing the Blackstone River and submitted her image titled “Keeping on Track” to the contest. This photo appears in May.

“It’s important to note that you don’t need to be a professional photographer or have expensive equipment to enter the photo contest,” DiPrete noted. “Many cell phones have cameras that can take high-resolution photos, like the one submitted by Buchanan. The beauty of it is that you can be enjoying the outdoors, whether biking, paddling or hiking, and not be encumbered by a lot of equipment to capture a stunning photo.”

The longest day of the year falls in June and the image selected to represent the mid-year was taken at the Manville Dam in Lincoln, RI. A dreamy raspberry-orange sky is reflected off the Blackstone River as the sun sets late in the day with a brilliant cascade of blue water coming off the dam and Subham Sett of Lincoln was there to witness it.

Flip the calendar to July and the lights are back on with a unique view of the Blackstone Canal and towpath at Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, MA. Puffy white clouds are reflected in the canal below as sunlight dances off the rich foliage surrounding the canal and the adjacent field. This captivating photo was captured by James Hunt of North Grafton, MA.

The Blackstone Valley Paddle Club, one of BHC’s longest running volunteer activities, was on the Linwood Pond in Northbridge, MA, this past summer and Suzanne Buchanan, BHC’s Volunteer Coordinator, was once again on the scene with her cell phone and submitted a photo from that night’s excursion. The judges selected it to represent the month of August because it showcases not only the beauty of the scene but also celebrates the watershed’s impressive recreational resources. Buchanan captured the shot from the banks of the Mumford River Walk and the paddlers were across the pond, allowing the sun to reflect off the water in the foreground.

Carol Dandrade takes us back to Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park for the month of September with an almost mystical photo of a trail head leading to the mist-covered river below. An aptly-placed sign on a tree points “To River” with a blast of autumn sun shining on leaves just starting to turn color and falling to the ground below.

Turn the page to October and you’re met with fall’s brilliance, captured at the familiar railroad trestle that crosses the Mumford River alongside Route 122 in Uxbridge, MA. Robert Mielke of Uxbridge submitted the photo, capturing October in all of its glory.

When November arrives, it’s as though time stops and holds you between the bright colors of fall and the eye-squinting brightness of winter’s fresh fallen snow. James Hunt of Uxbridge, MA, stood upon the rear of the dock that reaches out over the Blackstone Canal at the River Bend Farm Visitor Center in Uxbridge and snapped an image of the landscape which exudes the crispness in the air and the very last remnants of fall’s foliage. A cloud-filled sky reflects on the historic canal below, giving the feeling one could jump off the dock and into the clouds.

The “year of the river” ends while still at the River Bend Farm Visitor Center with Wendy A. Henschel’s December photo of the familiar red barn and surrounding property next to the canal covered in snow.

“We are always so impressed by the caliber of images curated from all areas of the National Heritage Corridor,” DiPrete noted. “The contest provides a poignant reminder of the beauty that surrounds us and also encourages us to explore areas we might not have visited before.”

The 2018 Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Calendar will be available for sale beginning November 1 at the BHC office at 670 Linwood Avenue, Whitinsville, MA and also available on the BHC website (BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org).

“Be on the lookout as you travel though the Blackstone River Valley,” DiPrete announced. “The 2019 calendar will celebrate ‘The Legacy of Transportation in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor: Yesterday and Today.’” Photos selected for the 2019 calendar will celebrate any number of transportation activities such as turnpikes, the railroad, canal, trucking, horse/wagon, and more. “It’s a time to be creative,” DiPrete noted. “Explore the many transportation-related elements of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.”

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.

BHC Celebrates National Sewing Month with Launch of New Volunteer Activity

Whitinsville, MA (August 15, 2017) – With a nod to the rich textile history of the Blackstone River Valley, Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) celebrates National Sewing Month in September with the launch of a new volunteer activity focused on sewing and textiles. BHC is hosting an initial meeting of interested volunteers at RYCO Creative Sewing Center, 25 Carrington St. in Lincoln, RI, on Thursday, September 21 at 6: 30 p.m.

According to BHC’s Marketing Director, Bonnie Combs, there is great interest in sewing throughout the National Heritage Corridor. Combs often brings her own sewing machine to community events to demonstrate how to make reusable shopping bags out of t-shirts. “It’s a great way to repurpose unwanted textiles,” she explained.  “At the same time, it encourages the use of a reusable shopping bag, lessening our dependency on plastic bags.”  BHC also operates a Trash Responsibly™ program, which focuses on raising awareness about the impacts of trash on the region’s natural resources and which also promotes recycling as one means of reducing the trash. Just this year, BHC-sponsored projects collected more than 10 tons of residential waste, including 730 pounds of plastic bags and plastic film collected by Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational and Northbridge high schools.

Combining two of BHC’s key program areas, participants in this first activity will stitch together some fabric plastic bag collectors to help educate people about the recycling of plastic bags and plastic film. “There are still many people who are not aware that they can bring their plastic bags back to grocery stores and other large retailers for recycling,” Combs explained. With America Recycles Day coming up on November 15, this will be a great community service project to encourage more recycling of plastic bags and film. One other project idea is to make reusable shopping bags to help support communities that are passing plastic bag regulations. Grafton is the first community in the National Heritage Corridor to approve a ban of single use plastic bags. The initiative was passed at the May 2017 Town Meeting and will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

BHC Volunteers-in-Parks lead numerous activities throughout the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.  Some of those volunteer-led activities have so far included trail hikes, bird spotting, and supporting BHC’s annual GO! program.

The idea to create a volunteer sewing activity was also inspired by a volunteer research project underway in the historic town of Hopedale, MA, which is taking a look at records from the Hopedale Sewing Circle. According to Linda Hixon who is leading the project, women in Hopedale gathered together for more than 150 years and discussed love, death, abolition, equality, and much more, while working on textile projects in a group they called the Hopedale Sewing Circle. “Together, they forged a strong bond and left an overwhelming record of their deeds, accomplishments, and other happenings in town,” Hixon revealed.

While the first meeting of the volunteer sewing group is being held in Lincoln, RI, the group is likely to meet in different National Heritage Corridor communities throughout the year, including some historic sites such as the Little Red Shop Museum in Hopedale, MA, Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI, and others. Owning a sewing machine is not a prerequisite as BHC’s Combs noted she and other volunteers have acquired a number of machines that will be made available, and will accept donations of more sewing equipment, fabric and supplies.

To learn more about the volunteer sewing initiative, and to RSVP for the September 21 meeting, contact Bonnie Combs at 508-234-4242 or email at bcombs@blackstoneheritagecorrdor.org.

BHC’s Birders Record a Robust Spring Migration

66 bird types found in volunteer-led bird walks throughout the National Heritage Corridor
Whitinsville, MA (June 30, 2017) – It was a spring like no other, thanks to a few passionate volunteers from Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC). Three avid birders came together to lead a series of nine bird walks between April and June during which 66 different varieties of birds were identified between Uxbridge, MA, and Pawtucket, RI. The weekend bird walks attracted over 80 participants on the adventures through lush bird habitats including Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, West Hill Park in Northbridge, MA, the Blackstone River Greenway in Blackstone, MA, Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI, and the Ten Mile River Greenway in Pawtucket, RI. To celebrate and recognize this new volunteer activity in a special way, BHC hosted a festive “Flock Party” at the end of June, inviting participants to hear presentations from the volunteer guides recapping the season’s findings.
The bird walks were 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 the trio continue to collaborate on birding activities throughout the year. Word flew out about their adventures and they were invited on Upton Cable Television’s “Be My Guest” show in April.
“I always thought it was about bird watching,” Ryan Whetsone, a bird walk participant shared. “But it’s really about bird listening. I could go for a walk by myself and maybe see a bird, or not. But on these walks you are with over 20 pairs of eyes and you see and hear things you’d miss if you were by yourself. These volunteer guides are experts at recognizing the bird calls.”
Beth Milke was charmed by Whetstone’s feedback on the program. “Paul and I remember how exciting it was to learn about birds–how many different kinds there are, what their songs are like, where to find them–from a terrific birder, Strickland Wheelock of Uxbridge,” she shared. “His enthusiasm rubbed off on us, and we’ve had so much fun sharing the experience with those who joined us for the bird walks.”
The types of birds identified on the walks include:

Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Mute Swan, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, American Woodcock, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Wood Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Tufted Titmouse, Black capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Gray Catbird, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue winged Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Common Grackle, Scarlet Tanager , Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, American Goldfinch, Eastern Towhee, House Finch, Song Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and House Sparrow.
“A special sighting for me was watching an Eastern Wood Pewee, a type of Flycatcher, literally going to the four corners of its territory and calling,” Sherry noted.  “Its territory may only have been about 200 feet by 100 feet, but the Pewee was vigorously declaring it.”
More bird walks are planned for BHC’s GO! program this September.  VIPs Beth and Paul Milke will lead walks at:  Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI, on September 2; Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, MA, on September 16; and at West Hill Park in Northbridge, MA, on September 30. Participants will be watching for birds preparing to migrate south, where they find food during winter.  All walks will be on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. with rain dates the following day.  Pre-register at BlackstoneBirdsMA@gmail.com.