The Blackstone River begins in central Massachusetts and travels through Rhode Island until emptying into Narragansett Bay which connects to the Atlantic Ocean. It has a length of approximately 48 miles (77 km). It drains approximately 540 square miles (1,400 km²) of land area in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The industrial revolution in the United States started on this river at the Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This was the first textile mill in the United States and was powered by the waters of the Blackstone River.
In August 1955, severe flooding on the Blackstone caused extensive damage to Woonsocket, Rhode Island; where the river is usually 70 feet (21 m) wide it swelled to over 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. Much of this flooding was caused by excessive precipitation that occurred as a slow moving tropical cyclone moved over the area.