CFFC: Water – Blackstone River and Its Valley: A River Runs Through It

I think if I were to describe the valley in which we live, I would say “A river runs through it.” In fact, the Blackstone River defines our valley, which is (to no one’s surprise) called “The Blackstone Valley.”

The canal and river in Uxbridge

Spring on the Mumford River — a Blackstone tributary — in downtown Uxbridge

Roaring falls in Blackstone, MA

The Blackstone runs through Millbury, Northbridge, Whitinsville, Uxbridge, and Blackstone after which it crosses into Rhode Island. From Woonsocket, the river passes through the mill towns of Manville, Ashton, Lonsdale. and Central Falls before reaching Pawtucket and ultimately, the Atlantic Ocean through Narragansett Bay.

Kayaking on the Blackstone

Kids swimming in the Blackstone in Rhode Island

Two swans in the pond in Whitinsville

According to geologists, the Blackstone is more than 500,000,000 years old, probably the most important link in the Watershed that straddles Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was a place of great beauty until it became the site of as many as 1000 mills and factories. The Blackstone River was known as the hardest working river in America, but also one of the dirtiest. By 1972, it was one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S.

An unnamed dam in south Uxbridge


Summer at Manchaug

Things began to improve after passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. The river now is cleaner than it has been in the past 47 years. It isn’t pure yet, but it is close. There are areas in which it is safe to swim and wherever it is safe (no dams, white water, or falls), people kayak and fish for trout. It is an amazing comeback for a body of water. If you live in this valley, you love the river.

The pond in Whitinsville (where the swans nest)

The dam in Northbridge

If you live in Uxbridge, you are never more than a quarter of a mile from some part of the river. Streams, rivulets, lakes, ponds, marshes — the river feeds everything, including our wells and city water. Living in the valley, you live with the river. It’s always near you. You see it in flood and in drought, in every season.

Categories: Blackstone River, Blackstone Valley, cee's photo challenge, Dams and Waterfalls, Mumford River, Photography, river, Uxbridge

Tags: , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. How beautiful and varied. This is an ambitious post, Marilyn.


  2. The closest I have lived to water was on a ranch just outside Reno,Nevada. They had a suspension bridge across it, the only way to enter the ranch land, and my little half of what had once been a cow barn was right on the other side. Once we had a flood, and the part of the bridge on the other side washed away. The water was lapping over the top of the rest of it. We were stranded until they could repair the bridge. . During normal times, I loved the sound of the river running nearby and he sight of deer eating apples off the tree that stood in my small yard. It was the second time in my life that I lived on a ranch, and I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always wanted to live on a ranch. I always wanted a horse. Sadly, by the time I lived here where we could have horses, I couldn’t ride anymore. i really considered getting a miniature horse, but we are cutting back on animals in our lives. We still have a dog and I hope we always will, but I’m not sure we’ll have any more. Duke may be our last dog.


      • I think you would have loved living on a ranch and having your own horse. When I was ten years old, we lived on the Harry Carey Ranch for two years, where I horses, a goat, chickens, and a dog to take care of that were mine. The Careys had thousands of acres with cattle and horses, goats, and burros. I rode everyday, a lot times bareback. Cappy,their daughter, and I went to school with a tutor on the ranch. Harry Carey, Jr., whose nickname was Dobe, was sixteen at the time, riding off , singing into the hills, while Cappy and I rode off to find herd of cattle or horses and stampede them into the hills. Later in life is when I lived lived on a working ranch outside Reno. There is a lot of work with the animals on a ranch,plus the growing of alfalfa and other crops, keeping the land rock-free, fences mended, etc.When my daughter was an adult, she ran into Dobe at a meeting. He was talking with another man and explained to him, “Her mother rode like an Indian, bareback and wide open.” In my twenties, I had calmed down a lot, riding and training horses. I had to give all that u[ when my kidney became a problem and my doctor forbid all horseback riding. Miniature horses take work,and feed is usually expenssive.. Quite often,,,,,they have feisty dispositions. There was a Shetland pony on the ranch that had once been in a circus, but the few times I rode him for exercise, he would turn his head and try to bite my knee. Mostly, he just roamed freely around the ranch, hanging out near the corrals and other horses.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I dreamed of it. I still, to this day, will watch any movie — no matter how treacly or silly — which has good pictures of horses. It was falling off horses that killed my back in the first place and took out my right shoulder (hold on to the reins because it’s a LONG walk back to the stable!) and I landed on my ass a couple of times and that did in the lower back. Which, even after surgery, didn’t stop me. Garry and I took lessons and rode for several years until the doctors told me I was completely mad and one more fall and I probably wouldn’t be able to get back up. Garry didn’t have to quit, but I guess it wasn’t fun without me.

          Maybe in my next life I’ll have the horses.

          They breed the minis around here. A lot of people who used to have bigger horses and can’t ride anymore — this apparently is something that frequently happens to aging backs — raise them. I suspect if they haven’t been abused, they are friendlier. Some of them are really beautiful, too and look just like full-size horse, but very small. I don’t think anyone bigger than a toddler could ride one. Maybe you could hitch up 8 of them to pull a tiny sled? That would be rather adorable πŸ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Such awesome photos Marilyn…as per usual!


  4. I simply knew you would have some awe-inspiring photos for this week. Thanks πŸ˜€


    • Thank you. I have other water pictures, but the river really is so central to life in the valley and we have SO many pictures of it, it seemed a good choice. Garry and I often shoot together and I have to label all our pictures when I download them. Sometimes, they look identical, though Garry wander more than I do and often find interesting things that I don’t see because I don’t walk well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a lovely area Garry and the two of you take such excellent photos of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The river really is the heart of the valley. We had a friend here from Arizona and he said he was tired of water. That would be like going to Arizona and deciding you’re tired of cactus and deserts. This valley is all about the river and I don’t think anyone gets tired of it. It’s not unusual while I’m taking pictures to have a few other photographers drop by and take a few shots. There are some pictures we all have in quantity — the stone bridge, the Mumford dam, Roaring Dam. The on in Whitinsville is in the backyard of the Whitinsville Senior Center and they won’t let you go back there, but we sneak in anyway. It’s not like they have a guard there and it’s a really interesting dam.

      Each dam is unique, too. Most have no names. A few — Roaring Dam — do have names. I don’t know how many dams remain. When they can, they remove them to let the water run free, but the soil used to build the dams is seriously hazardous, so often they don’t because it would poison the river — again.


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