The Blackstone Valley

The Blackstone Valley (will be called "the valley" or "the region" on this page) is a National Heritage Corridor and National Historical Park located in the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The region includes 25 towns and cities in Massachusetts (Auburn, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Leicester, Mendon, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Worcester) and Rhode Island (Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, East Providence, Glocester, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Providence, Woonsocket).

Some History

Now I'm not a historian - but I do know that the valley is the birthplace of the US Industrial Revolution. The first textile mill was opened in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in the late 18th century. Throughout the early 19th century, mill villages popped up throughout the region.

Population

As of 2010, the Blackstone Valley is home to 788,021 residents. A complete town-by-town breakdown is below:

Town Name Population (2010) Population (Est.)*
Auburn 16,188 16,752
Blackstone 9,026 9,305
Burrillville 15,955 16,453
Central Falls 19,376 19,382
Cumberland 33,506 34,652
Douglas 8,471 9,250
East Providence 47,037 47,449
Glocester 9,934 10,062
Grafton 17,765 20,295
Hopedale 5,911 5,930
Leicester 10,970 11,278
Lincoln 21,105 21,644
Mendon 5,839 6,159
Millbury 13,261 13,820
Millville 3,190 3,430
Northbridge 15,707 18,103
North Smithfield 11,967 12,349
Pawtucket 71,148 71,756
Providence 178,042 179,435
Smithfield 21,430 21,630
Sutton 8,963 9,362
Upton 7,542 9,312
Uxbridge 13,457 15,981
Woonsocket 41,186 41,539
Worcester 181,045 189,527
Total 788,021 814,855

* Rhode Island estimates from 2018. Massachusetts estimates from 2020 forecast, created in 2018.

Transportation

The valley is served by quite a lot of numbered roads, those being: I-90, I-190, I-195, I-290, I-295, I-395, US 1, US 6, US 44 MA 9, MA 12, MA 16, MA 56, MA 96, MA 98, MA 122, MA 122A, MA 140, MA 146, MA 146A, RI 5, RI 7, RI 15, RI 94, RI 96, RI 98, RI 99, RI 100, RI 102, RI 103, RI 103A, RI 104, RI 107, RI 114, RI 114A, RI 116, RI 120, RI 122, RI 123, RI 126, RI 146, RI 146A, RI 246. I will go into further detail on routes 122 and 146 below.

The valley also has three rail stations, Worcester, Grafton, and Providence. An additional station, Pawucket/Central Falls is planned to open in 2022.

Two airports serve the region, those being T.F. Green (PVD / Warwick, RI) and Worcester (ORH / Worcester, MA).

Route 122

For tourists visiting (not that we get any), route 122 is the best route for local scenery. The road starts in Pawtucket, and goes all the way to Orange, Massachusetts. The road passes through many former mill villages, and is a great way to see what the valley has turned into since the mills closed. Additionally, hop on route 9 in Worcester westward to Leicester to see more.

Route 146

Route 146 is the expressway connecting Worcester and Providence. It's a highway most of its length. Nothing too interesting. However, this road is the most important asset for the valley's economy. Between 1981 and 2007, the entire 21-mile section in Massachusetts was upgraded to be an expressway, as the Boston suburbs pushed west. Since completion, we have seen population and economic booms throughout.

Recreation

Even though the valley is known for its history, the region still has amazing recreational opportunities. Throughout the region, there is a partially-completed bike path, the Blackstone River Greenway, which I hope is completed some day.

Numerous state parks and forests are in the region as well. I recommend the following parks.

  • Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park (Northbridge & Uxbridge)
  • Douglas State Forest (Douglas)
  • Lincoln Woods State Park (Lincoln)
  • Purgatory Chasm State Reservation (Sutton)
  • Upton State Forest (Upton)