BLACKSTONE GORGE AND ROARING DAM

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The Blackstone River Historic Corridor is almost a national park. It would be a national park, but a lot of people already live here in Massachusetts and in Rhode Island. The Valley runs all the way down from the hills of Worcester, across the Blackstone Valley in Massachusetts into the Blackstone Valley in Rhode island until the river empties out into Narraganset Bay via the Seekonk River — after Pawtucket Falls in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Two photos in one – Photo: Garry Armstrong

In 1990, the Blackstone River was characterized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as “the most polluted river in the country with respect to toxic sediments.” Look how far we’ve come in improving the river! It’s not perfect, but forty-one years later, you can swim in it and trout swim there. That’s no small thing.

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. When the Blackstone reaches Pawtucket Falls, it becomes tidal and flows into the Seekonk River north of Providence. Other tributaries join the Blackstone along the way, such as the West and Mumford River, at Uxbridge, and the Branch River in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Finding this part of it was Kaity’s idea. She finds these places and then we have to figure out how to actually get there. Considering this place is just a couple of miles from home, how hard could it be to find?

It’s tricky. It’s not shown on the GPS or on the telephone’s GPS. But it is there. You’d think a dam and waterfall this big wouldn’t be so hard to find, but we aren’t the world’s best navigators under any circumstances. Before this was a lovely park, it was a huge factory that tanned hides for leather. The earth that supports the dam is deeply hazardous and they won’t take down the dam because it would release all that evil soil. As long as it’s supporting the dam, that earth is buried and safe, but it can’t be released.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

This kind of problem is true of all the dams along the Blackstone. We got rid of the pollution — to a point — but the hazardous stuff has to go somewhere. We don’t have anywhere safe to put it, so sometimes, you just have to leave it in places. As long as you don’t release it, it won’t hurt anyone. Unfortunately, it’s not a permanent solution, but it’s the only one we’ve got.

Kaity by Roaring Dam

This is one of the many parks which are part of the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor. It’s off Route 122, but down a small dirt road marked “private.” This probably means that Massachusetts and the town of Blackstone are not taking responsibility for its maintenance.

You could tell pretty quickly the road belongs to no one. Unpaved. Not even level gravel, but plain old-fashioned dirt. It’s full of ruts too, yet it leads to a lovely finished park with one of the river’s larger dams. There’s a modest parking lot with stone benches and walking trails. But you have to find it first.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We found it. Eventually. I’m not sure we’ll ever find it again. It’s off a normal (not main, but paved) road onto a dirt road then around a few odd bends and suddenly, there’s a four-car parking lot. Voila! You can hear it before you see it and you realize why it’s called Roaring Dam. It’s loud.

When the leaves changes, this little area will glow. A couple of weeks from now, the world will look entirely different.



Categories: Blackstone River, Blackstone Valley, Dams and Waterfalls, Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. Beautiful photos, marvellous places of nature. Thanks for posting to show us

    Like

  2. Such beautiful scenery! 😲 Amazing photography too! You must feel a sense of great peace in such a wonderful spot! As for the pollution, I think you put it well … it has to go someplace and sometimes it’s just safer to leave it buried. As long as the history is passed along so that future generations (if there are any) will know about such ‘hot spots’, We have a big one here in Utah too ,,, near Tooele in the desert west of Salt Lake City. There is a depot there where they store hazardous and toxic waste. There was a movement afoot some years ago to bring more of that horrid stuff to store there, and I believe there was such an outcry from the citizens that they opted not to do it. Still there are numerous jokes about the three eyed fish in the Great Salt Lake and the two headed sheep and cattle. That stuff is dangerous and another example, to me, of how stupid and careless we’ve been about our planet. And we never seem to learn either. 😒😔

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    • I remember when everyone was sure burying it in Nevada or Utah was a GREAT idea and I also remember thinking, “Yes, but what do the residents think of that idea?” I was pretty sure they would not like it at all and I was right. In fact NO state has been willing to accept what were used up uranium rods from nuclear reactors. Forget the dirt. Anyway, these rod ride around on trucks, transferring from truck to truck because we haven’t come up with a solution for storying them. Burying them isn’t a great idea anyway because it doesn’t make them less radioactive. It just puts them out of sight, like burying spoiled food in the back of the fridge. But this is so much worse than spoiled food!

      The problem is that the ONLY kind of power that doesn’t cause extensive damage to the air yet produces enough wattage to make it worth using IS nuclear energy. We know how to build them. We just don’t know what to do when they get old — about 25 year later — or we need to change the rods. All the great minds have never come up with an answer. Oddly enough, sinking it in plain water deactivates it. I’m not sure why (no physicist here!) that works, but it does. Not salt water, either. Fresh water. Maybe we need to build pools near every facility for old rods until such time as someone works out some other method.

      Meanwhile, all the wind and solar doesn’t generate enough power to get the job done. It takes off some of the load, but not enough. Despite no one talking about it, nuclear power is the primary source of electrical power in much of Europe, Russia, China and more. No one wants to talk about it, but it’s there. Places like this with strong rivers tend to get a LOT of generators. And many of them are getting old. They will have to take them down soon and then what? We’ve been building solar fields all over the place. That’s why we don’t have a dump: they turned it into a solar farm.

      Until they come up with something better, it’s going to be nuclear energy — even though we have NO idea what to do with the leftovers. Interesting, isn’t it?

      Like

  3. Such incredible photos. Glorious colours. Great job finding it as well

    Like

    • Thanks! For us, finding anything is always a big deal. We get lost ALL the time. Fortunately, I actually can read a map. The hard part is finding maps which have enough detail to follow. Most maps these days only show main roads, not smaller ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always use google maps, but if there’s no signal then that’s a big problem!

        Like

        • A lot of the places on dirt roads are not on anything, Google on the iPhone or otherwise. You have to get whoever is in charge of the location to have directions, then follow them. There are some dams you actually CAN’T drive to. There are no roads. They were accessible only by train — and those trains are gone. Actually, there is ONE left. That’s how come I have pictures of some of these places. Owen went riding on one of these trains and took pictures.

          Liked by 1 person

            • The train — I think it’s the Grafton line (or was) — doesn’t run on full-gauge tracks. They use narrow tracks. Also the speed limit is about 5 MPH, so they are pretty safe. But they travel through areas that have no where to stand up. It’s all wetlands — swamps covered in green slime and algae. I have to assume that they had built some kind of roadway in there or even the trains would not have been able to run — or for that matter, horses. Whatever they did is long gone. The old hulking factories stand in a state of ongoing collapse in the middle of a swamp.

              Liked by 1 person

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