Day/Date: SUNDAY -2/26/23
Towns visited: Uxbridge, Millville and Blackstone
Had we ever been to this town before? No
Drive to town: 39 miles Time spent in towns: 6+ hours
What did we do in the towns/area?
Today we visited three towns located along the Blackstone River & Canal.
The Blackstone River spans 48 miles between Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and it became an essential part of life in these parts. In the 1820s, a canal was built along the Blackstone River to help transport goods and people between the Massachusetts city of Worcester and the port city of Providence, RI.
Not long after, in 1845, a railroad was built that basically replaced the canal as the primary means of transportation, as the railroad provided a more reliable source of transport. Also, many mills that started popping up in the mid to late 1800s in that area were using the river for power and diverting water away from the canal.
UXBRIDGE: In the downtown area of Uxbridge, we noticed an old railroad bridge for the original Providence and Worcester Railroad. We also walked around a bit and saw the town hall, library, and the Mumford River (a tributary of the Blackstone River). Many of the shops were closed, but there were a few small restaurants serving brunch.
A little further up the road, we discovered the town green decorated with a string of homemade Valentine’s Day cards surrounding the green. It was adorable, and we could tell that the children of Uxbridge probably made them.
After we toured this small downtown, we headed to a cafe we had looked up called The Valley Bean and grabbed some coffee and sandwiches to fortify us for our upcoming outdoor adventure! Yum!
We recently came upon a notice that DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) was hosting a maple sugaring event at the River Bend Farm. And so we decided to go! The farm houses the Visitor’s Center of the DCR’s Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park. The farm has a long history, dating back to the 1700s when it was originally a subsistence farm. Then, it was a farm in a very industrial time in the area. Next, it was a commercial dairy farm. And, since 1980, the land has been designated as parkland.
Friendly volunteers at this event taught us a lot about maple sugaring, and we even got to tap a tree! We learned that the sap starts flowing when the night time temps are below freezing, and the daytime temps are above freezing. Unfortunately, this was not the case the day we were there, as it was really cold! In their small sugar house, we also learned that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup! That’s a lot of liquid from a lot of trees!!! We learned never to try to cook down the sap in your home kitchen, as every surface will get coated with a sticky residue. But it would smell amazing!!!
After the demonstration, we took a nice wintry walk around the property, which has trails that weave you along both the river and the canal. We both thought this would be a sweet spot to return to with our kayaks!
MILLVILLE: Just east of Uxbridge was our next town of the day: Millville. This town is only about 5 square miles and is home to less than 3000 people! Since it is so tiny, there is not much to do here, but we found a few things to note about this old Mill town.
There is a cool tower in this town called the Udor Tower, a 30′ high stone tower that looks similar to the Irish tower we saw in Milford, but there is a difference. “Udor” means rain in Greek. So, it is believed that this tower was built to collect water that eventually flowed by pipe into the original builder’s home in the 1880s.
This town had a lot of “mill” history (hence the name), as it was once the home of many a little manufacturing village with woolen mills and even a rubber company. There is a millstone near the Udor tower commemorating this history.
We also enjoyed a quick stop at the very cute public library (which was sadly closed) with a sign just out front about a Book & Bake that gave us chuckle a bit and made us want to come back in a few days!
Like a Russian doll, Millville was once a part of Blackstone which was once a part of Mendon, and all of it was land originally inhabited by the Nipmuc tribe. (Uxbridge was also once a part of Mendon- a town we have yet to visit).
Our final town of the day was Blackstone.
We have friends who recently bought a house in this town, so our visit to this town was the perfect excuse to stop by and see Dan & Danielle in their new digs.
But first, we went to the Blackstone Gorge and took a nice hike along the Blackstone River, getting some nice cliff views. After our hike, we drove around a bit and found ourselves crossing the border into Woonsocket, RI, for a moment. We wound ourselves back into Blackstone, where we checked out town hall, and we happened upon and learned about the sadly, now gone Blackstone Potato Chip Company and the little memorial of its original site. Kind of a bummer it’s not around anymore because Jo loves potato chips! We didn’t have our bikes, but we stopped anyway to see the Blackstone River Greenway- a paved path with three sections spanning 48 miles. This section is a 3.5-mile path between Uxbridge and Blackstone, and it has a nice little park. We’d like to come back and ride this rail trail.
Our friend’s house in Blackstone is pretty darn awesome, and we had fun hanging out with them and goofing off on their really cool porch.
Two years ago, when they said they bought a house in Blackstone, we had no idea where that was! But now, 175 towns later, we know so much more about this beautiful state of ours!
Indigenous/ Native land info for this region:
Uxbridge, Millville & Blackstone: Nipmuc
It feels important to note that the next town we visit will mark the 1/2 way point of this mission to see all 351 town/cities in MA! We’re getting there! We hope you’ll stick with us!