This dam dates to the 1824 or 1825 because those were the two years during which the Blackstone River Canal was built.
The Blackstone river has been described by many as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. In the early 1800s, it was, mile for mile, the busiest and hardest working river in America. Over its 46-mile course, it drops 438 feet — farther than the Colorado River falls through the entire Grand Canyon. In 1790 the Blackstone’s waters powered the pioneering cotton mill of Samuel Slater at Pawtucket, Rhode Island, America’s first mechanized cotton factory.
Slater’s success spurred him to expansion of his enterprise and brought a host of imitators to the valley, creating ever?expanding demands for labor and raw materials. Local farmers increased their production to feed, house, and warm the ever-growing army of factory workers and their families. Capital accumulated, technical specialists gathered, and villages were built. This remarkable growth generated a need for a better avenue of commerce than the rutted dirt roads that then served the region.
The Blackstone river itself had too many twists, turns, falls, shallows, and rapids to be navigable for any distance, so in the winter and spring of 1821-2 meetings were held in towns all up and down the Blackstone Valley to discuss the construction of a canal to carry goods to and from the wider world.
There is much more, so please visit and learn more about this beautiful valley.
This part of the dam directly above this section of the canal created with locks to deal with the sharp drop in the river. The river runs to the left (if you are standing on the dam), while the canal goes straight ahead.
The canal has been a beautiful, but unused part of the Blackstone Valley corridor for 177 years. Birds nest here and fish swim through its quiet waters. It were fewer than 20 years between the building of the canal and the arrival of the railroads, yet the river and the canal have a beauty and elegance that nothing else has matched.
Old, though not ancient. For this part of the world where “ancient” is rare, this is old enough. For us.