The Woonasquatucket River (pronounced /wnˈɑːskwəˌtʌkɪt/ woo-NAHS-kwə-TUCK-it, Algonquian for "where the salt water ends") is a river in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It flows approximately 15.8 miles (25.4 km)[1] and drains a watershed of 130 km2 (50 sq mi).[2]

Woonasquatucket River
CountryUnited States
StateRhode Island
Physical characteristics
 • locationNorth Smithfield, Rhode Island
 • location
Providence River
 • coordinates
41°49′36″N 71°24′36″W / 41.8267°N 71.4100°W / 41.8267; -71.4100
Length15.8 mi (25.4 km)
Basin size130 km2 (50 sq mi)
The Woonasquatucket River below Stillwater Reservoir in Smithfield
The Woonasquatucket River in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence
The Woonasquatucket River in downtown Providence near its confluence with the Moshassuck River
Sculpture in Providence

Together with the Blackstone River to the north, the Woonasquatucket was designated an American Heritage River in 1998. Both rivers played active roles in the industrial revolution and the history of Rhode Island in the 19th century. Evidence of this industrial history remains in the fact that there are 18 dams along the river's length.[3]

Course edit

The river begins in the swamps west of Primrose Pond in North Smithfield and runs southeast past Primrose Pond to Stillwater Reservoir. Below the reservoir, the river continues southeast, providing water to numerous ponds, until going under Providence Place mall and joining the Moshassuck River in front of the One Citizens Plaza building in downtown Providence to form the Providence River. The lower part of the river, below Rising Sun Dam in Olneyville is tidal.

250 years ago, the river flowed into what was called "The Great Salt Cove," just a little below where Rising Sun Dam now stands. The Great Salt Cove was about 1+12 miles long and up to half a mile wide, covering several hundred acres.[4][5] Much of the present, flat land in this area was once either the cove itself or salt marshes along the edges of the cove. The flat land is fill added over the years to make more land to build on, beginning as early as 1780. The western end of the Great Salt Cove was near where Atwells Avenue now crosses Route 6.

From near the Atwells Avenue bridge over the Woonasquatucket to Interstate 95 and on to its present mouth, the Woonasquatucket's course is a man-made channel that flows underneath Providence Place Mall and through Waterplace Park. In Waterplace Park, the Woonasquatucket River is also used as part of Waterfire.

Crossings edit

Below is a list of all 29 crossings over the Woonasquatucket River. The list starts at the headwaters and goes downstream.

  • North Smithfield
  • Smithfield
    • Farnum Pike (RI 5/104)
    • Old Forge Road
    • Farnum Pike (RI 5/104)
    • George Washington Highway (RI 116)
    • Capron Road
    • Whipple Avenue
    • Farnum Pike (RI 104)
    • Esmond Street
    • Esmond Mill Drive
  • North Providence
    • Angell Avenue
    • Putnam Pike (U.S. 44)
    • Allendale Avenue
  • Johnston
    • Greenville Avenue (Greenville Avenue becomes Manton Avenue as it crosses the river)
  • Providence
    • Glenbridge Avenue
    • U.S. 6 (Twice)
    • Manton Avenue
    • Delaine Street
    • Valley Street
    • Atwells Avenue
    • Eagle Street
    • Acorn Street
    • Dean Street
    • Bath Street
    • Interstate 95
    • Francis Street
    • Exchange Street
    • Steeple Street (U.S. 44 Eastbound)

History edit

Woonasquatucket River Greenway

The river was an important transportation route for native peoples, especially for connecting various tribes of the Algonquian nation to what is now the Providence River and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. The area now known as Federal Hill in Providence was an important meeting place along the river for bands of the Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes. Known as Nocabulabet (pronounced "nok-a-BUL-a-bet"; thought to be an early settlers version of an Algonquian phrase meaning "hill above the river" or "place between the ancient waters"),[6] this was a place where tribes gathered for trading and harvest festivals. Some believe it was also used as a vantage point to watch for marauding tribes approaching from Narragansett Bay.[citation needed]

Tributaries edit

In addition to many unnamed tributaries, the following brooks and rivers feed the Woonasquatucket:

  • Latham Brook
  • Stillwater River
  • Harris Brook
  • Hawkins Brook
  • Assapumpset Brook
  • Reaper Brook
  • Mattetee Swamp Brook
  • Hanton Brook
  • Gould Brook
  • Whipple Brook
  • Pleasant Valley Stream

Notes edit

  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
  2. ^ Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
  3. ^ Governor’s Task Force on Dam Safety and Maintenance – Final Report, January 2001
  4. ^ "Rhode Island History, Vol. 48, Num. 3, August 1990" (PDF). The Rhode Island Historical Society. Retrieved February 20, 2023. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  5. ^ 1765 Map of Providence (Map). Retrieved February 20, 2023 – via Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection at the Boston Public Library.
  6. ^ Native Languages of the Americas: Narragansett (Nipmuc)

See also edit

References edit

External links edit