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Pawcatuck River
Westerly Pawcatuck River.JPG
The Pawcatuck River as it flows between Westerly, Rhode Island and Pawcatuck, Connecticut
Pawcatuckrivermap.png
Pawcatuck River watershed
Country United States
State Connecticut / Rhode Island
County New London County, Connecticut Washington County, Rhode Island
Physical characteristics
Main source Worden Pond
South Kingstown, Rhode Island
River mouth Little Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound
Pawcatuck, Connecticut / Westerly, Rhode Island
2010 09 Westerly Pawcatuck River swan
The Pawcatuck River, looking north, with Westerly, RI buildings in view, and Pawcatuck, CT just off to left

The Pawcatuck River is a river in the US states of Rhode Island and Connecticut flowing approximately 34 miles (55 km). There are eight dams along the river's length. USS Pawcatuck was named after the river.

History

The river was specified as the western boundary of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in the original charter of 1636. It was formerly called the Charles River between its source and the mouth of the Wood River near Bradford, Rhode Island.

On April 20, 2006, an Atlantic white-sided dolphin swam several miles up the river to Westerly, Rhode Island from Little Narragansett Bay at the east end of Fishers Island Sound. It spent several hours at Westerly-Pawcatuck, near the bridge connecting Rhode Island and Connecticut, while several hundred spectators gathered to see it. According to the Mystic Aquarium, the dolphin may have become separated from its pod at sea and had been searching for it. It was captured and taken later that night to the aquarium, where it died; it had become sick, underweight, and bruised during its journey upriver.

The Pawcatuck River flooded during a fierce rainstorm in New England on March 29, 2010, with waters overflowing into both Westerly and Pawcatuck. Both towns evacuated low-lying areas, and some historic buildings were lost to flood damage along the course of the river, such as a 150-year-old general store in North Stonington. The bridge in downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck was closed for several weeks until the river had gone down enough for divers to inspect it for safety.

Course

The Pawcatuck River's source is Worden Pond in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. It proceeds generally west and southwest through the villages of Kenyon, Carolina, and Bradford, Rhode Island. It serves as the border between the towns of Charlestown and Richmond, Rhode Island, Charlestown and Hopkinton, Rhode Island, and Hopkinton and Westerly. It turns briefly northwest and west before resuming a southward course to flow past Potter Hill, Rhode Island and between the towns of Westerly, Rhode Island and the Pawcatuck section of Stonington, Connecticut; its mouth is on Little Narragansett Bay on Long Island Sound (41°19′N 71°52′W / 41.32°N 71.86°W / 41.32; -71.86).

Crossings

Below is a list of all crossings over the Pawcatuck River. The list starts at the headwaters and goes downstream.

  • Charlestown
    • Biscuit City Road
    • South County Trail (RI 2)
    • Sherman Avenue
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
    • Shannock Road
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
    • Old Shannock Road
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
    • Carolina Back Road (RI 112)
    • Alton Carolina Road (RI 91)
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
    • Kings Factory Road
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
    • Burdickville Road
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
  • Westerly
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
    • Alton Bradford Road (RI 91/216)
    • Ashaway Road (RI 3)
    • Potter Hill Road
    • Boombridge Road
    • Bridge Road
    • Westerly Bypass (RI 78)
    • Stillman Avenue
    • Northeast Corridor (Amtrak)
    • Broad Street (U.S. 1)

Tributaries

In addition to many unnamed tributaries, the following brooks and rivers feed the Pawcatuck:

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