America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Slater Mill

Slater Mill, Blackstone River Valley NHS, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

There's the backstory about Sam Slater and his forethought to build the first water-powered cotton mill in the United States along the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1793. Then there's the famous story of the first women's strike at that same mill in 1824. There's the story of the expansion of that mill and others in the town such as the Wilkerson Mill next door, and now the story about how you can visit all that within the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Site, which includes even more. So if you wend your way toward Pawtucket some day, take in history, industrial revolution style, even as it had barely gotten started. Image above: Slater Mill at the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Site, Pawtucket, 2018, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Slater Mill

Slater Mill, Rhode Island

The Industrial Revolution, it is said, started right there, as Sam Slater built his dam and mill in 1793 along the Blackstone River, against many opinions in town. It started a boom of similar mills through the next fifty years, spurred by government policy. The Embargo of 1809 and the Tariff of 1816 assisted United States textiles against imports from Great Britain.

However, the Slater Mill and others were renowned for their long working hours and use of child labor. They also hired entire families and required them to buy their goods from the company store. Today, you can see the mill, plus other industrial revolution sites, all part of Blackstone River National Historic Site.

Image above: Postcard called, "The First Cotton Mill in America, Pawtucket, Rhode Islands," 1922, Historic American Buildings Survey. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Wilkerson Mill at the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Site, 2018, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Slater Mill, Blackstone River Valley NHS

Where Is It

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Site includes the Slater Mill and other disparate sites, much of them still in the completion phase per National Park Service use as the site has only been a National Historic Site since 2014. The Visitor Center/Park Headquarters is located at 67 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860, in the Wilkerson Mill, where you can get orientation to the Slater Mill and other sites within the NHS.

What is There Now

Slater Mill

Blackstone River Valley National Historic Site includes the original Slater Mill and park headquarters inside the Wilkerson Mill next door. While the grounds are open daily; the Slater Mill is currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays with summer hours in 2022 expanded to Thursday through Sunday for guided tours. It is also closed in winter months. There are self-guided walking tours of the other sections with some ranger walk-abouts depending on staff at some parts of the park.

When Open and How Much

The various units of the park are open different hours; please check the website or call ahead on the day of your visit to see just what's going on. There is no charge for the National Park Service run sections; however, some partners do charge a small admission fee at their sites.

Fees subject to change.

Blackstone River Valley National Historic Site

History Nearby

It's a New England pleasure gound of historic sites of Revolutionary War fame to natural landscapes from the Atlantic Ocean to inland treasures.

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