Some folks have no idea what a special gift has been prepared for them. Others of us have been “chomping at the bit” as it were to get the last fences down and let us onto this special spot.
I heard just a few days ago that all the fences and construction equipment were finally removed from the Blackstone River Bikeway in Blackstone, so we could finally invite folks to come see what is surely going to become a national jewel in the world of railtrails.
We often get excited when a railtrail has one bridge over a river. As we walked with a group of folks from the National Park Service, the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, and other interested folks, we counted 8 (yes, 8!) bridges along a less than 2 mile stretch of bikeway in Blackstone, MA. This entire completed section is 4 miles in length, traveling from Blackstone through Millville then on to Uxbridge.
Some of the bridges cross over streets, with no worries about crossing streets. But most of the bridges cross the Blackstone River and canal system. The river twists its way from Worcester to Pawtucket, RI, but is particularly sinuous in this area.
Great for us now, providing so many different river views, but challenging for those who worked so hard to create a continuous railtrail through this area.
Most of the bridges were nearly completed last year, but the Triad bridge was only finished late this fall, and all the finishing touches that make this such a great place to visit took much longer. We snuck in to check things out in the fall of 2015 and grabbed some great foliage pictures. We’ve visited a number of times since then to see progress, and keep an eye on everything.
But yesterday we (about 30 folks who showed up with about 12 hours’ notice) walked all the way from Blackstone, at the parking area on Canal Street, to the Triad bridge, and back. Yes, 8 bridges. Such fun. I hear some folks spotted an eagle on the walk.
We saw mute swans and some cool shelf mushrooms.
My grandgirl was excited to try out the new playground, and was given a spin on the merry go round by some helpful park rangers.
The path yesterday had no ice, but we’re expecting a nor’easter today so trail conditions may be less than ideal in the coming days. Regardless, the trail is open, ready for prime time, and a great gift for us all. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this impossible dream a reality.
Address for the Blackstone parking area–93 Canal Street, just about 1/2 mile off Rt. 122 in Blackstone, MA. Let us know when you visit. (And yes, there are maps to the parking areas in Easy Walks in Massachusetts.)
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.