Press & Media

Ranger Walkabout Series 2023

Join a Park Ranger and explore the Blackstone River Valley.

During the months of June, July, and August, staff from Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park offer specialty tours at varying locations across the Blackstone River Watershed. These programs 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.

June 1: Mr. Blackstone and the Marsh, 549 Broad St., Cumberland, RI
Kick off the 2023 Walkabout Series by taking a walk with park rangers in Cumberland, RI!
This tour will begin with William Blackstone: his life story, the process of colonization, and the mystery of his remains. From Blackstone’s Monument, the walkabout will continue through a remarkably intact village of worker housing, past the Ann & Hope complex, and into the Lonsdale Marsh. Walkabout participants may use the parking lot for the Blackstone River Theatre for the duration of the program.

June 8: The Hidden Mill Village, 1145 Putnam Pike, Chepachet, RI
Today Chepachet, RI, is best known as a shopping center, a role it has played for over two hundred years. But Chepachet was once home to several mills, and it was the site of one of the most important events in Rhode Island’s political history. Join us to hear these stories of Chepachet’s hidden past. Meet the park ranger for this tour at Glocester Town Hall.

June 15: Swords, Scythes, and Slave Cloth, 101 Greene St., North Smithfield, RI
How were workers in the Blackstone Valley affected by the Civil War? Explore the connections between the mill villages of Slatersville and Forestdale and the American South during this walkabout. Presented in partnership with the North Smithfield Heritage Association.

June 22: The Wonders of Whitinsville, 50 Douglas Rd., Whitinsville, MA
Who were the Whitins, and why is there a town named after them? Explore this small community in Northbridge, MA, and learn how it grew into one of the world’s largest textile machine manufacturers. Join us as we discuss how one family financed and managed a community that expanded into one of the most successful mill villages in New England.

June 29: Great Prospects in Providence, 282 N. Main St., Providence, RI
Roger Williams never had his portrait taken because his faith led him to believe that would demonstrate vanity. We have no idea what he looked like. Yet, his mortal remains are interred beneath a thirty-foot-tall statue of his imagined likeness. How did this happen? Join us on the anniversary of the dedication of the Prospect Terrace monument and see two of his three historic resting places along the way. We will start at the National Memorial and will make the VERY STEEP, 4-block climb to Prospect Terrace.

July 6: Architects and Anarchists, 12 Hopedale St., Hopedale, MA
Who has the power to make big decisions in your community? This tour will focus on key moments of change in Hopedale, MA, through an exploration of houses in the community. The walkabout will include a long history of habitation in the area and continue through the construction of the large Draper workers’ houses in the late 1800s.

July 13: La Survivance: Museum of Work and Culture, 42 S. Main St.,
Woonsocket, RI
Learn about local immigration and see the new exhibit “Flowing Through Time: Nature, Industry and Communities of the Blackstone River,” hosted at the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, RI. This tour will focus on the theme of “la survivance,” a French-Canadian concept of cultural preservation and the survival of language. Explore the museum’s lower-level galleries with a park ranger and museum guides. Presented in partnership with the Museum of Work and Culture.

July 20: Water is Power at Valley Falls, 45 Broad St., Cumberland, RI
How have people tamed, harnessed, and changed the natural world for their own benefit? Take a walk in Valley Falls Heritage Park with a ranger and learn about the history of waterpower. See a beautiful dam and what remains of a hydropower operation.

July 27: A River Changed: Blackstone River State Park, 1075 Lower River Rd.,
Lincoln, RI
Last year, community members celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ZAP! cleanup in the Blackstone Valley. What’s changed in the decades since this monumental recovery effort? What challenges do people who want to recreate and live along the Blackstone still face today? This tour will consider the human history of the landscape and the challenges we must grapple with for environmental justice. Free overflow parking is available at the Ashton Village Parking Area (for the Blackstone River Bikeway) on Front Street.

August 3: Getting Wild with Roger Williams, 165 Pitman Street, Providence, RI
When Massachusetts banished Roger Williams in 1636, he made several stops along his harrowing journey to find Providence. One of his stops was along the Seekonk River. Join a naturalist from the Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership and a park ranger for a stroll along the river to hear stories of this journey and explore the plants and animals that made up Roger’s world.

Meet behind East Side Market, 165 Pitman Street, Providence, to connect to the bike path. We encourage you to bring your own equipment – binoculars and field guides – so
that we can limit sharing among participants.

August 10: 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.

August 17: 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 the opportunities and challenges of working in a restored mill space. Presented in partnership with Deb Dunleavy, Manchaug Mills, Inc.

August 24: 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.

August 31: 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.

Learn more at nps.gov/blrv.