The canal followed the Moshassuck River through Providence
|Location||Providence, Rhode Island extending to Worcester, Massachusetts|
|Architectural style||No Style Listed|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||May 6, 1971|
The Blackstone Canal was a waterway linking Worcester, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island (and Narragansett Bay) through the Blackstone Valley via a series of locks and canals during the early 19th century.
The initiative for the canal came from Providence, where a merchant community wished to profit from trade with the farming country of the Blackstone Valley and Worcester County. The people of Worcester and the Blackstone Valley, eager for transport that would enable them to get better prices for their produce, welcomed the plan. However, since the trade of central Massachusetts was at that time going overland through the port of Boston, Massachusetts commercial interests succeeded in stalling the project for several years. Finally, in 1823, the Blackstone Canal Company was organized through an act of the Massachusetts legislature, with a Rhode Island company soon following. The canal's construction may have been motivated by competition among rival industrialists to curtail "Water rights."
Construction began in 1825 and cost $750,000 (twice its initial estimate). The canal opened on October 7, 1828 when the packet boat Lady Carrington arrived in Worcester, the first vessel to make the trip. The canal brought immediate prosperity to Worcester and the Valley; farmers' profits increased and mills were built, especially in Worcester.
It was a two-day trip for the canal boats from Worcester to Providence and another two-day trip to return to Worcester. The overnight stopping point was in Uxbridge.
Boston merchants moved to recapture the trade moving down the canal to Providence, opening a rail line to Worcester in 1828. In 1847 the Providence and Worcester Railroad began operation, and the canal closed in 1848.
The canal was 20 feet or more in width, and lined with white stone where necessary. It ascended 451 feet, passing through an original 49 locks plus a further 13 locks added after initial construction. The "slack-water" canal intersected the Blackstone River 16 times over its 45-mile course, and ran in the river itself for 10% of its length. These portions proved troublesome since in summer, water was sometimes too low for navigation.
Each lock was 70 feet long by 10 feet wide and apparently 3–4 feet deep.
The canal today
Since the canal's closure, parts of its watercourse were filled and other segments are now heavily overgrown with brush and trees. Its remains, however, are still visible in many locations. The canal is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- Blackstone River
- Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park
- Blackstone Valley
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Providence, Rhode Island
- Providence and Worcester Railroad
Media related to Blackstone Canal at Wikimedia Commons
- Highway of Commerce: The Blackstone Canal, Worcester Historical Museum, 2005
- Canal District Promotional Website: Information about events and venues around Blackstone Canal
- Blackstone Canal, Albion vicinity, Providence, RI at the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER)
- Blackstone Canal, Blackstone River & Washington Highway (Quinnville), Ashton vicinity, Providence, RI at HAER
- Blackstone Canal, Canal Tender's House, Blackstone River, Washington Highway Vicinity, Ashton vicinity, Providence, RI at HAER
- Blackstone Canal, State Route 126, Central Falls, Providence, RI at HAER
- Blackstone Canal, Front Street & Lonsdale Avenue (Lonsdale), Lonsdale vicinity, Providence, RI at HAER
- Blackstone Canal, Pawtucket vicinity, Providence, RI at HAER
- [Beneficent Congregational Church, 300 Weybosset Street, Providence, Providence, RI Blackstone Canal, Charles & Randall Streets, Canal & Haymarket Streets, Providence, Providence, RI] at HAER