Posts Tagged ‘ Rhode Island History ’

George Redman Linear Park – Providence/East Providence

  • George Redman Linear Park – Washington Bridge
  • India Street, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°49’4.13″N, 71°23’30.03″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 30, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Easy.

The first Washington Bridge was built over the Seekonk River in 1793. It was a covered drawbridge that connected Fox Point in Providence to Watchemoket Square in what is now East Providence. Since then several replacement spans were built along this stretch of the river. Today, you can walk across the Seekonk River on a section of the original 1930’s bridge that has been preserved. There are some informative boards near the center of the bridge explaining the history of the bridge and the surrounding area. The rest of the Washington Bridge that carries Interstate 195 over the river has been reconstructed. The linear park is made up of a bike path (part of the East Bay Bike Path) and a walking area with several park benches. The view to the south is the lower Seekonk River at India Point and Bold Point where it flows into the Providence River. The walk from India Point Park to Watchemoket Square is about six tenths of a mile. Longer distances can be added to this walk by adding India Point Park or continuing along the East Bay Bike Path.

I did not find a trail map on-line.

Looking Towards Providence Along The Linear Park.

Looking Towards Providence Along The Linear Park.

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Bristol Waterfront – Bristol

Bristol is most famously known for its Independence Day celebrations. The town is host to the longest running 4th of July parade in the United States which was first celebrated in 1785, a mere nine years after the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. Patriotism runs deep in this town and in the weeks leading up to Independence Day it really shows. Bristol is situated on the east side of Narragansett Bay and its harbor has always played an integral part of the town. Downtown Bristol is home to several historical building dating back to the 1700’s as well as many “Mom and Pop” shops. Bristol is a thriving waterfront town and today’s walk covers both the waterfront and some of the towns historical district. Starting at Independence Park, at the southern terminus of the East Bay Bike Path, I first followed Thames Street in a southerly direction, then turned left onto Franklin Street making my way slightly uphill to Hope Street. Along the way I passed the first of, literally, a town full of shops. I then turned right onto Hope Street. This stretch is lined with several historic houses, lantern streetlights, and large old trees. Most of the houses have plaques on them citing the dates they were built. The first on the right bears a date of 1730 and ahead just before the bank is a massive ginkgo tree. You will also notice the red, white, and blue line in the middle of the street. The line is painted throughout the town along the parade route. In the weeks leading up to Independence Day this stretch is overtaken with flags and banners. Just before Bradford Street on the left is the Andrew School. It is the first of several school buildings along the route of the walk. The Colt School is next on the left just after Bradford Street. Built in the early 1900’s by a prominent Bristol resident, it was donated to the town as a school. Also on the left is Linden Place, a large mansion built in 1810. On the right is the Rogers Free Library housed in a building built in 1877. Just before turning left onto State Street, I came to the Bradford-Diman-Norris House. Built in 1792, it replaced a structure that was burned by the British during the American Revolution. Following State Street, I passed several more houses that were built in the early 1800’s. I then crossed High Street, passing the Walley School on the right. Continuing east I made my way to Wood Street opposite St. Mary’s Church. Along the way on the right is the Bristol Common. On the left I would pass the Bristol Train of Artillery and another old school building which is currently home to the towns School Department. At Wood Street I then turned right and started to follow the path into the Common that leads to the Gazebo. I continued pass the gazebo toward the back of the brick building at the corner of High Street and Church Street. This building is the Byfield School. The school is now used by several artists and their studios including the aptly named Liberty Looks studio. Note, while walking through the common, the row of buildings along High Street. They are the back of the Walley School, the First Baptist Church, the former Bristol County Courthouse, and the Byfield School. I then crossed High Street heading west along Church Street. A fire station is to the left at the corner and the rest of the street is lined with more historical houses. About mid way down the street on the right is a chapel that is set back behind a house. Just before the intersection of Hope Street on the right is the St. Michaels Garden. Across the street is St. Michaels Church, built in 1861, it is the fourth church on this site. The first was also burned by the British during the American Revolution. Turning right onto Hope Street, I then came to a large stone building on the right. This is the Burnside Hall built in 1883. It was used as the Town Hall until 1969 and today it is a visitors center. You can stop in and get all the information you need from its friendly staff. I then continued along Hope Street, passing the Belvedere Hotel on the left, and then turned left onto State Street heading back to the waterfront. Crossing Thames Street, I followed the brick walkway to a restaurant along the water. Just to the north of the restaurant is the beginning of the public boardwalk that follows the edge of the harbor. The boardwalk passes a marina, a condominium building and a couple of restaurants before ending at Independence Park. From here I crossed the park back to parking area, stopping briefly at a plaque explaining Bristol’s role in the American Revolution. You could easily add more mileage to this walk by zigzagging the towns blocks. Just about every street in this area has a structure of historical significance. This walk just scratches the surface of the towns history.

Trail map can be found at: Bristol Waterfront.

Boardwalk Along Bristol's Waterfront

Boardwalk Along Bristol’s Waterfront

Blackstone Canal – Lincoln

  • Blackstone Canal
  • Interstate 295, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°56’22.58″N, 71°26’39.25″W
  • First Time Hiked: June 4, 2015
  • Last Time Hiked: April 8, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.8 miles
  • Easy with some slight elevation

Long before highways and even before the railroad came through these parts, the Blackstone Canal was the primary means of transporting goods from Providence to Worcester. The canal and its several locks ran along side the Blackstone River and was in use in the early 1800’s. Today most of it is long forgotten. It has been either covered over or nature has taken it back. But here in Lincoln a long stretch of it has survived the test of time and is well preserved for all of us to look back at yesteryear. It seems very fitting that this walk starts from the visitor center along Interstate 295 North. There is a 0.8 mile long stretch of bike path that winds gently down to the Blackstone River Bike Path. Following this stretch of bike path the roaring sound of the interstate soon vanishes and is replaced by the sound of the water falling over the Ashton Dam. I first came to a spur of the bike path that led to the right. I continued straight following it further downhill and the canal soon appeared on my left. I soon came to a path on the left with a wooden bridge. I continued straight again. I would return over that bridge toward the end of the walk. After walking under the large arched bridge that carries Route 116 over the Blackstone River I turned left and crossed a bridge toward the Kelly House Museum. This area features several granite bollards with inscriptions on them of structures that stood years ago including the Kelly Mill, the barn, and the 1825 Towpath Bridge. I then turned right, keeping the house was on my left and the canal on my right. After passing the barn site the “road” turns to the left. I continued straight (bearing slightly right) onto the towpath the follows the edge of the canal. The towpath ends at the Blackstone River Bike Path. Here I turned left following the bike path back to the large arch bridge. I then turned left and made a quick right passing through a parking lot under the bridge that leads to another trail. This trail first passes the Kelly Mill site and then the wooden bridge (on the left) before dead ending. At the end on the right is the Blackstone River as it cascades over the Ashton Dam, on the left is one of the old locks on the canal. From here I retraced my steps back to the wooden bridge. Take a moment to look at the canal from the wooden bridge. Here is the best vantage point to look at the stone work of the canal walls. After crossing the wooden bridge I then turned right following the bike path back to the parking lot at the visitors center.

I did not find a map on-line.

The Blackstone Canal

The Blackstone Canal

Pawtucket Falls – Pawtucket

This short walk, a little over a half mile out and back packs a bit of history. So much so that it is now part of the newly formed Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. The walk weaves through two small city parks, a historic site, and follows a new section of bike path. Starting at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street, I followed a walkway that leads toward the river. There are two sets of falls here. The first, being the Lower Falls, a combination of a natural waterfall and manmade dam, are just about under the Main Street bridge. This is where the Blackstone River ends and the tidal waters of the Seekonk River begins. These falls were used by the Native Americans and the colonists as a fishing spot for years before it was used for its water-power. In fact, the city of Pawtucket gets its name from these falls. Pawtucket is Algonquin for “place of rushing waters”. The Upper Falls are just a few hundred feet north at Slater Mill. Following the river along the brick walkway that follows the river, I soon found myself at a set of several older buildings. This is the Slater Mill Historic Site. It comprises of three buildings and is today a living museum open to the public. The first building of note is the large rubblestone mill. This is the Wilkinson Mill, which was built around 1810, housed a blacksmith shop and a machine shop. The second building of note is the Sylvanus Brown House. The large reddish-brown house was built in 1758, however, at a different location a few blocks away. During the construction of Interstate 95 the house faced demolition. It was saved and relocated to its present site. The third building of note is the highlight of this historic site. The Slater Mill is said to be the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. The mill, built in 1793, became the first successful cotton factory in the newly formed United States. In the next hundred (plus) years, mills and factories would begin to line the Blackstone River from here in Pawtucket northerly to Worcester, Massachusetts. The next part of this walk would lead me around Slater Mill to a parking area. I made my way to the large stone wall along the river. This wall was built in 1940 by the Works Projects Administration. I followed the wall north a few feet to a new section of bike path. At the time of this walk, it seems that more improvements may be in store to connect the historic site to a newly installed bike path. The bike path, short in distance, follows the river. To the left is the backside of the Pawtucket City Hall. This art-deco building built in 1933 features a central tower that is over 200 feet tall. The building is also home to the police and fire departments. After passing the City Hall I came to an amphitheater at Veterans Memorial Park. The path then continues to wind up to street level. At the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Exchange Street there is a sign. It is the same design of sign I came across at the Pawtuxet River walk. It reads “River and Fields at Pawtucket – One of the bounds of Providence mentioned in the Indian deed to Roger Williams”. From this point I retraced my steps back to the point of beginning.

I did not find a map on-line.

Slater Mill

Slater Mill

Independence Trail – Providence

  • Independence Trail
  • South Main Street, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°49’23.33″N,  71°24’20.52″W
  • Last Time Hiked: February 2, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.5 miles
  • Easy with some significant elevation.
 
 *** August 2017 – Due to recent sidewalk construction, large portions of the “green line” have been eliminated, it is advisable to use the map below for guidance until this is re-written***
 

This walk to most locals it is also known as the “green line” as the walk is marked literally by a green line that meanders through the city. The Independence Trail is similar to the Freedom Trail in Boston in its amount of rich history. Most people are unaware of how much history is here in Providence. In fact, some of it predates the history of Boston. Unlike the Freedom Trail, the Independence Trail is a loop. You can start at any location and finish where you began. The trail is also marked with site numbers. At each site number you can use your phone to call the number given for a description of the site. This morning I started along South Main Street at the Cable Car Cinema. (Currently, meter street parking is free on Sundays.) I started my walk heading north along South Main Street going through an area of spires and steeples. I passed the Old Stone Bank building with its gold dome as well as the Supreme Court Building, both on the right, and Memorial Park on the left with its host of war memorials. Continuing north I soon passed the Old Market House. Providence had its own tea party in rebellion of British taxes. A plaque here explains it. Continuing north, (this is where South Main Street becomes North Main) I passed the Rhode Island School of Design Museum before coming to the locally famous bus tunnel. Next I came to the First Baptist Church. The church was founded by Roger Williams (the founder of Rhode Island) in 1638. A little further up the road I turned right and uphill on Meeting Street. I first came across a single room brick schoolhouse the was once used by Brown University. At the intersection of Benefit and Meeting Streets is the Old Armory. At this location my College Hill walk intersects this walk. I then turned left onto Benefit Street before turning left and downhill on North Court Street passing the Old Rhode Island State House. In this building on May 4, 1776, Rhode Island declared its independence from the British. Rhode Island was the first colony to do so, a full 2 months before the Declaration of Independence. After going to the bottom of the hill I crossed North Main Street and followed the sidewalk north along the Roger Williams National Memorial. This is the site of the spring in which Providence was settled and grew around. I then turned left onto Smith Street crossing Canal Street and the Moshassuck River before making my way to the State House. (Note: the green line is not present on State House property. To continue the trail, walk towards the State House and follow it around the left side balcony to the stairs in front and down the main walkway to Francis Street.) The State House is a massive marble building built at the turn of the last century. It has one of the worlds largest unsupported domes. If it is open, it is well worth going in to take a peek at it from inside. Atop the dome is the Independent Man. This statue overlooks Providence. Making my way down Francis Street heading toward downtown I passed the Providence Place Mall. Some of the cities newer building are to the left surrounding the basin of Waterplace Park and the Woonasquatucket River. Following the green line into downtown, I soon passed the Biltmore Hotel, Providence City Hall, and made my way into Kennedy Plaza. The green line took me by the ice skating rink, BurnsidePark, and the Federal Court House as well. At the Federal Court House there is a plaque commemorating that Abraham Lincoln had once spoke here at the Railroad Hall. From here I followed the trail down Exchange Street into the heart of the Financial District. Here I was surrounded by some of the cities tallest buildings including the famed Turks Head Building. I then made my way up Westminster Street to Dorrance Street passing the Industrial National Trust Building and The Arcade (the worlds oldest indoor shopping mall). Turning left at Dorrance I passed a plaque of the Federal Reserve building that shows the height of the flood waters from the 1938 Hurricane. I then turned left onto Weybosset Street back toward the Financial District passing The Arcade again. I then followed the trail right after The Custom House Tavern to the Crawford Street Bridge. At this location my Waterplace Park walk intersects this walk. I then followed the trail along the Providence River for a bit before heading up Planet Street and back to the car. This walk not only showcases the vast history of Providence and Rhode Island, but it is a walk through some of the most elaborate architecture in the nation, both in style and age. This walk also brings you by some of the interesting art work and sculptures in the city. I would suggest taking your time on this walk as there is so much to see.

independence-trail-map2

Follow the Green Line

 

The Green Line

The Green Line

Providence Harbor Walk – Providence

  • Providence Harbor Walk/India Point Park
  • India Street, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°49’2.13″N,  71°23’49.40″W
  • First Time Hiked: November 30, 2013
  • Last Time Hiked: June 18, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2 miles
  • Fairy Easy
 

Providence has been going through a metamorphosis for the last 25 or so years and much of the area described in this walk has seen most of that change in the last few years. In fact some of that change is still happening. With that being said the description for this walk starts from the Community Boating Center along India Street and heads west towards the I-way Bridge. The reason being is that small stretch along India Street passes through an area that hasn’t been redeveloped yet and is still somewhat of an eye-sore. After passing the Community Boating Center you will pass the remains of what was once a bustling nightclub and marina that closed long ago. Shortly after that is the Providence Steamboat property, home of several tugboats that assist large ships entering Narragansett Bay. Most times at least one of the several tugs are docked here. The walk then turns right onto Bridge Street and travels under the I-way Bridge. The 400 foot arch is 80 feet high and serves as an appealing entrance to the upper Providence River that carries Interstate 195 over it. The bridge was built in 2007 as part of a project that relocated a mile and half stretch of Interstate 195 just south of the city. From here, across the river and just south of the bridge is Collier Point Park. Just north of the I-way Bridge is the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, the first of its kind built in the United States. The structure built in the 1960’s protects downtown Providence from storm surges. Two hurricanes in the 20th century, being in 1938 and 1954, inundated the city with several feet of water. The city has not flooded since. After passing through the hurricane barrier there is a small park to the left. Every Columbus Day weekend the Pronk parade concludes here and the festivities carry well into the night. Across the river is one of the most recognizable and photographed structures in Providence. The Manchester Street Power Plant, with its towering stacks, creates electricity using three large turbines fueled by natural gas. The portion of the building to the extreme right is part of the original structure that was once fueled by coal. The newer portion of the building was built in the 1990’s. For those of you interested in checking out the city from the river, stop by the dock just below the Hot Club deck. Here is the home of the Providence River Boat Company. Tours of the city leave here on an hourly basis on most days. If you need to wait, grab a burger and beer from the Hot Club. (Trust me!! They are good!). Also along this stretch of Bridge Street is Lola’s and the Whiskey Republic. Across the street is Corliss Landing, one of the oldest buildings in the area, now mostly apartments and offices. At the end of the street and to the left is the Point Street Bridge. It was built in 1927 and is a swing bridge. It last opened in 1959 as the upper Providence River was no longer used by larger vessels. This walk now turns right and heads away from the Point Street Bridge, first crossing South Water Street and then South Main Street before turning right onto Benefit Street. This large open area was where Interstate 195 once snaked through the city. Some of the parcels are put aside for parks and others are slowly being redeveloped. After following a small section of Benefit Street a short bike path lies ahead. To the left is the backside of the Holy Rosary Church, another of Providences predominant structures. The short bike path starts a curve to the left keeping the South Main Street exit to the right and a small grassy area with artistic sculptures to the left. The bike path soon ends at the sidewalk of George M. Cohan Boulevard. This now fairly quiet street once served as the main through-way from the Point Street Bridge to points east. It was named after the playwright, composer and producer who was born in Providence. The 1942 Academy award winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy depicts his life. Following the sidewalk for a few hundred feet slightly uphill you soon come to the India Point Park Bridge. Turning right here you now cross the Interstate before entering the park. From the bridge you have good views of the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay. India Point Park has an interesting history of its own. It once served as a seaport, a crossroads, and lastly a metal scrap yard before becoming a waterfront park in the 1970’s. After crossing the footbridge, turn to the left and follow the paved footpath. It comes close to India Street before turning away from the street. You will find an interesting sculpture here of yesteryear. Next you will come to the entrance of the East Bay Bike Path. If you so choose, the bike path takes you up onto the Washington Bridge for a sweeping view of the Seekonk River below. After passing the entrance of the bike path continue straight and then stay to the left of the playground. At the next footpath turn right and follow it to the end. This will lead you to one of the least known, but most important historical sites in Rhode Island. This is where the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, first step foot in Providence in 1636. He would later travel around India Point and Fox Point and then up the Providence River where he would found Providence. The path now turns south following the Seekonk River. In this area, over time, were several river crossings including a covered drawbridge that was built in 1793. All that remains today (other than the existing Washington Bridge) is the remnants of the India Point Railroad Bridge on the East Providence shoreline. This area of the park was at one time a rail yard. In fact the first railroad station built in Providence was built here. The remainder of this walk follows the shore of the river, passing the playground once again, before coming to a large wooden dock. This area once served as a seaport for larger vessels that couldn’t make it to the docks closer to downtown. Near the conclusion of this walk is a newer dock. It it is used primarily by recreational fishermen. You will find several informational boards throughout the park further explaining the vast history of this area.

 

Urban Skyline at India Point

Urban Skyline at India Point

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