The 1793 opening of Samuel Slater’s cotton mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, ushered in a historical phenomenon now known as America’s Industrial Revolution. Along the banks of the Blackstone River, for which the region is named, dozens of factories sprung up, employing generations of working-class families and drawing thousands of immigrants from around the world. Many serve today as factory outlet stores, art studios and artists’ lofts.
Today visitors, school groups and history buffs alike are drawn to the region to explore its fascinating history and discover its important effects on America’s growth as a manufacturing giant. Some of the region’s most popular attractions are Slater Mill Historic Site (1793), riverboat cruises aboard the Blackstone Valley Explorer and the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor. And be sure to visit the Blackstone Valley’s Museum of Work and Culture. The state-of-the-art museum provides a fascinating interactive experience for visitors as it traces the story of mill workers who came from the farms of Quebec in the last third of the 19th century to work in the shoe and textile factories of New England.
The Blackstone Valley, to the northwest, is a land of rivers and woodlands that is rich in historic significance. America’s Industrial Revolution was born here in the 18th century. Today, some of the old mills have been preserved as museums dedicated to the history of labor and immigration. In central Rhode Island, the recently expanded T.F. Green Airport makes air travel to Rhode Island easy and affordable. Amtrak service, already available in Providence, is now linked to T.F. Green, providing seamless intermodal transportation through Rhode Island and into the rest of New England.
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