Blackstone River Valley
Blackstone River Valley

West Hill Dam and Park, Uxbridge


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Wonderful and Wild West Hill Dam and Park

                                                                     by Diane Mariani


. . .country roads take me home, to the place I belong, West Hill Dam and Park, Uxbridge, Massachusetts???


West Hill Dam and Park may not be what John Denver had in mind when he co-wrote Take Me Home Country Roads, but it's certainly a place in the country that I belong to now, since I ventured there!


          It was Monday, a glorious sunny day with beautiful blue skies and puffy white clouds. The temperature was a warmish 47-50 degrees.  A perfect spring day for an adventure to a destination that I had never been to before and didn't know much about.  Very much to my surprise, what I found was a little piece of heaven nestled in the pines of Uxbridge, MA surrounding the West River with a hilly backdrop. I say "Very much to my surprise" because I figured that this natural area would probably be 'pretty', but I found it to be awesome! (I felt this way since the Dam and Park are located so close to home in the Blackstone River Valley, and not in Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont, although, it has the feel of a vacation spot.).


          The scenery is as the landscape once was before development.  Its essence is serene. The river cut through the rock and winding through the fascinating dam may not be on the scale of the great Hoover Dam, but I found it as captivating!


          Upon entering the West Hill Dam office, I was warmly and enthusiastically greeted by the project manager, Merl Bassett. Merle told me what West Hill Dam & Park were all about. West Hill Dam, West River was "designed and constructed and is operated and maintained by New England Division, US Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The US Army Corps is authorized by Congress to meet the engineering needs of the Nation, either through navigation, military, or flood damage reduction. As a result of different catastrophic events such as 1955's Hurricane Diane and Hurricane Connie, the dam was requested and built in 1960. The purpose of the West Hill Dam on the West River (a major tributary of the Blackstone River) is for flood damage reduction. By holding back the water from the Blackstone River, it doesn't cause damage in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and Providence, Rhode Island. The dam works by not releasing water out of the dam until water levels in Woonsocket start to go down." To loosely echo Merle's words - to think, there are people in Uxbridge, MA protecting Woonsocket, RI!


          West Hill Dam & Park is, also, a result of demands of the public for open space, natural resource management, and recreation. It is a wildlife area maintained in partnership with MassWildlife. To meet the needs of the public, the areas include a beach at Harrington Pool, a playground, picnic tables and Pine Grove picnic shelters. To hold events, the public may use the overhead shelters.


The public can hunt, fish and trap in the Park and horseback riding is allowed on designated trails.  But, if bird watching is your penchant, than you would relish in the 20 acres of the Grassland Restoration Area, which maintains the desired habitat for migrating birds.


          VIP's, whether you are a lover of nature, or engineering (or both), experience West Hill Dam & Park.  The Dam & Park are a work of man and nature at their best!


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