It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.
A little village in the town of Cumberland, Valley Falls sits on the border of Central Falls and Lincoln. Valley Falls is known for being the starting place of Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway. That’s right! Berkshire Hathaway was actually founded in 1839 by a businessman named Oliver Chace, who founded several textile manufacturing companies in the 1800s. Originally called the Valley Falls Company, the company manufactured cotton.
Like most mills, the river and its dam helped to power operations. The textile empire built by the Chace family lasted for 70 years, with mills on both sides of the dam pictured above. As the company grew, other manufacturers came to the area to use the labor force. Valley Falls became Cumberland’s downtown and the seat of town government.
The Valley Falls Company closed in the 1930s, and the mills on the Cumberland side were torn down to avoid property taxes. In 1991, the town of Cumberland and the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor, an area dedicated to the history of the early American Industrial Revolution, transformed the site into a historic park. Sadly, the area has been marked by graffiti and vandalism, and a number of homeless people have set up tents down by the river.