Chepachet’s Stone Mill (1814), is one of the few survivors of the Blackstone Valley’s Cotton Mill boom during the War of 1812 era.
On Sunday, March 11, 2012, the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission, in cooperation with the Museum of Work and Culture and the Rhode Island Historical Society, will present the fifth in a series of Ranger Day Talks at 1:30 pm in the ITU Hall at the Museum of Work & Culture. National Park Ranger Kevin Klyberg will be presenting: “The Blackstone Valley in the War of 1812.” According to Ranger Klyberg, “as part of the National Park Service’s recognition of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Heritage Corridor rangers decided to look at how the war affected the Blackstone Valley. While obviously no battles were fought here, our research has shown that the War of 1812 and the embargoes leading up to the war, played a key role in launching the first textile industry boom in the Blackstone Valley, and therefore the United States.”
“The ban on importation of textiles from Europe, beginning in 1807,” Klyberg said,” inspired the creation of dozens of new textile mills across the Blackstone Valley. Many of these mills failed when the war ended, and imports once again began to flow into the nation. However, several key textile empires got their start during this period, and three of the villages that are the basis for a proposed new National Park in the Blackstone Valley saw their first textile mills built in this time frame (Slatersville: 1807, Whitinsville: 1809, Ashton: 1810). In many ways,” Klyberg concluded, “the cotton mill boom of this era is what really made the Industrial Revolution revolutionary, as it expanded the textile industry beyond a handful of sites, and made it an integrated part of the Southern New England landscape.”
Kevin Klyberg has been a National Park ranger with the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor since 1996, specializing as a historian and interpreter for the Commission.
The remaining Ranger Talk scheduled will be on April 1 when former Woonsocket resident Chip Bishop presents a talk on his newly released book “The Lion and the Journalist.”
For more information about this or other programs in the series, call the Museum of Work and Culture at 401.769.9675.