Last updated: May 30, 2021
In the early 1800s, transportation of goods became a major obstacle in the growth of industry in the Blackstone River Valley. Due to rocks, rapids and dams, barges could not navigate the Blackstone River. Roads were also very poorly maintained and hard to travel. After the success of the Erie Canal, it was decided that a canal connecting Providence, RI to Worcester, MA could solve the transportation problems. Work on the Blackstone Canal began in 1825. It was dug with shovels, pickaxes, and spades. Irish immigrants made up most of the workforce. In 1827 the first barges made the voyage up the 46 mile canal, giving many mill villages along the Blackstone River access to more reliable transportation. By 1847, the railroad connected Providence and Worcester. In 1848 the canal closed.