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The Blackstone River is a river in the U.S. states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It flows approximately 80 km (48 mi) and drains a watershed of approximately 1,400 km² (540 sq. mi).



Blackstone River Near Mass./R.I. state line

The river is named after William Blackstone (original spelling William Blaxton) who arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1623, and became the first settler of present day Boston in 1625. He relocated again, to Rhode Island in 1635 and built his home on the river, in what would become Cumberland. The original native American name for the river was the "Kittacuck", which meant "the great tidal river". The "Kittacuck", or Blackstone, was plentiful with Salmon and Lamprey in pre-colonial and colonial times

The industrial revolution in the United States started in 1790 when Samuel Slater built Slater Mill at Pawtucket Falls. This was the first textile mill in the United States and was powered by the waters of the Blackstone River. So many mills followed that the Blackstone became known as "America's hardest working river", but industrialization also lead to the river being identified by the end of the 20th century as the primary source of Narragansett Bay pollution.[1]

In August 1955, severe flooding on the Blackstone caused extensive damage to Woonsocket, Rhode Island; where the river is usually 70 feet (21 m) wide it swelled to over 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. Much of this flooding was caused by excessive rain that occurred as a slow moving tropical cyclone moved over the area.

The river, together with the Woonasquatucket River to the south, was designated an American Heritage River in 1998.


The river is formed in Worcester, Massachusetts by the confluence of the Middle River and Mill Brook. From there, it follows a rough southeast course through Millbury, Sutton, Grafton, Northbridge, Uxbridge, Millville, and Blackstone. It then continues into Rhode Island, where it flows through Woonsocket, Cumberland, Lincoln, Central Falls, and Pawtucket, where the river then reaches Pawtucket Falls. After that, the river becomes tidal, and changes it's name to the Seekonk River. Other tributaries join the Blackstone along the way, such as the West and Mumford River, at Uxbridge, and The Branch River in North Smithfield.


Blackstone River at Ashton, RI (Ashton Viaduct)

Below is a list of all crossings over the Blackstone River. The list starts at the headwaters and goes downstream.

  • Worcester
    • Millbury Street
    • Massachusetts State Route 122A/146 (Twice)
  • Millbury
  • Sutton
    • Depot Street
  • Grafton
    • Pleasant Street
    • Main Street (MA 122A)
    • Depot Street
  • Northbridge
    • Sutton Street
    • Elston Avenue
    • Church Street Extension
  • Uxbridge
  • Millville
    • Central Street
  • Blackstone
    • Bridge Street
    • St. Paul Street
  • Woonsocket
  • Lincoln
  • Central Falls
    • Broad Street (RI 114)
    • Roosevelt Avenue
    • Cross Street
  • Pawtucket
    • Exchange Street (RI 15/114 Southbound)


In addition to many unnamed tributaries, the following brooks and rivers feed the Blackstone:

See also


  1. ^ Blackstone River Watershed – Five-Year Watershed Action Plan, First Draft


External links



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