A Topograhical Chart of the Bay of Narraganset in the Province of New England, 1777, by Charles Blaskowitz

Narragansett Bay

The outstanding features of any map of Rhode Island are Narragansett Bay and the rivers that empty their waters into the bay. On a topographical map, showing contours and elevations, land and waterways, the last are dominating features, for the highest elevations, except a few scattered hills, rise gradually to barely 800 feet above mean high water mark, and interpose scarcely an obstacle to travel on lines as straight as those laid out by Roman engineers constructing military roads and aqueducts. Rhode Island roads are far from being straight, nevertheless; after the fashion in New England, they parallel shore or stream, skirt lake or pond, seek easy grades, wind about instead of climbing rolling hills, or bend to pass through town or village, the location of which has been determined usually by a favorable water site. Bays, rivers, ponds and even smaller waterways dominate the system of communication by travel, and determine locations for public highways and bridges, railways and tramways, omnibus routes, ferries and steamboat lines.

A political map of Rhode Island, delineating county, town, city, and district boundaries established by the General Assembly to define the territorial jurisdiction of courts and sheriffs, to divide the state into convenient units for local administration by municipal corporations, and to group population for representation in state legislature or federal Congress, similarly reflects the outstanding features of the terrain. All five counties reach tidewater; two, Washington and Kent, lie west of the bay; two, Bristol and Newport, lie generally east of the straighter western channel in the estuary; while Providence County surrounds the headwaters of the bay and embraces the northern portion of the state. The counties correspond substantially with historical divisions antedating the King Charles Charter of 1663, and, until Rhode Island had become predominatingly an industrial commonwealth, indicated a reasonably equal division of population. In the twentieth century three-quarters of the people of Rhode Island reside in Providence County; in consideration of the fact that the county is not in Rhode Island a unit for representation in government or for taxation, this patent inequality is not discussed with reference to partisan political significance.

Twenty-one of thirty-nine Rhode Island towns and cities, including within their boundaries the homes of three-quarters of the population, are maritime—in the sense of bordering navigable waters and having free access to the Atlantic Ocean. Thirteen towns and two cities—Little Compton, Tiverton, Bristol, Warren, Barrington, East Providence, Providence, Cranston, Warwick, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, Narragansett, South Kingstown, Charlestown and Westerly—reach the coast line of almost eighty miles bordering ocean and estuary. Four towns and one city—Jamestown, Middletown, Newport, New Shoreham and Portsmouth—are located on islands in bay or ocean. The city of Pawtucket sits astride a navigable river below and above the waterfall that marks the edge of the piedmont plain—a location favored for great cities on the Atlantic seaboard. While Rhode Island sent two members of the federal House of Representatives, Narragansett Bay was the dominating boundary of First and Second congressional districts; with three Congressmen additional to two Senators, the division for districts roughly is: First, east of the bay; Second, west of the bay; Third, north of the bay. The towns and cities are primary units for representation in both Senate and House of the Rhode Island Assembly.

An economic map of Rhode Island, showing occupations and products of factory, soil or water, as well as distribution of wealth, is definitely correlated to waterways, for these have been constraining influences in determining the location of industrial enterprises and commercial centers. More than eighty per cent, of taxable wealth is accumulated in towns and cities lying in the larger river valleys or along the shores of Narragansett Bay. Population is as compactly aggregated in industrial and commercial centers as it is widely dispersed in farming communities; that more than ninety per cent, of the people of Rhode Island reside close to bay and rivers is simply another fact derived from the dominating influences in the geographical environment, which are water and waterways.

Rhode Island is referred to in documents antedating the King Charles Charter of 1663 as the Bay country, the Narragansett Bay country, or the Narragansett country. While the last designation had reference to the tribe of Narragansett Indians, who occupied most of the territory west of the bay during the period of colonization, the former were more significant. Rhode Island may be described as consisting of Narragansett Bay, and enough land on either side and at the headwaters to assure control of the waterway. In this respect, Rhode Island resembles the Canal Zone, which is a narrow strip of territory within which lies the Panama Canal. When the United States had decided to construct between Colon and Panama a canal that would connect the Atlantic Ocean through the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean, our Secretary of State and other diplomatic representatives sought to purchase from Colombia a land area sufficient to control the approaches to and the banks of the waterway when excavation had been completed. Colombia apparently was reluctant to part with the territory wanted, including as it did two important cities and harbors, and a profitable railway line connecting them. Thereupon, the Colombian province of Panama revolted, the United States recognized its independence, and negotiations for the cession of the Canal Zone to the United States achieved rapid progress. It is scarcely necessary to say that the financial consideration for the transfer of sovereignty was offered to and was paid to the province of Panama instead of to the state of Colombia. A treaty ceding what would be eventually two narrow strips of land approximately paralleling the canal and contiguous to either bank was executed and ratified.

The marked resemblance of (1) canal and Canal Zone to (2) Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island is easily recognized when reference is had to maps of reasonable size in each instance; the resemblance is most impressive when reference is made particularly to the eastern boundary of Rhode Island, which is defined in the King Charles Charter of 1663 as follows: “And extending toward the east, or eastwardly, three English miles, to the east and northeast of the most eastern and northeastern parts of the aforesaid Narragansett Bay, as the said bay lyeth or extendeth itself, from the ocean on the south, or southwardly, unto the mouth of the river which runneth towards the town of Providence, and from thence along the easterly side or bank of the said river (higher up called by the name of Seacunck River) up to the falls called Patucket falls, being the most westwardly line of Plymouth Colony, and so from said falls, in a straight line, due north until it meets with the aforesaid line of the Massachusetts Colony.” This is not the present eastern boundary of Rhode Island, which was run by agreement betwixt Rhode Island and Massachusetts almost two centuries after the year of the Charter. The line three miles east and northeast of Narragansett Bay swept southeasterly, easterly and northeasterly of Mount Hope Bay, and included within the territory assigned to Rhode Island the site of Fall River, which was a Rhode Island town until 1862, as well as part of the present town of Swansea in Bristol County, Massachusetts. On the other hand, location of the colony line from Bullock’s Point, at the mouth of Providence River, along the banks of the Providence and Seekonk Rivers, placed the present Rhode Island town of East Providence and so much of the present city of Pawtucket as lies east of the Seekonk and Blackstone Rivers in Plymouth Colony, thus assuring to Plymouth access to a closed harbor to the west superior to New Bedford, Plymouth, Provincetown or any other harbor along the wild and treacherous reaches of Cape Cod or Cape Cod Bay.

The three-mile limit indicated in the Charter may or may not have had reference to international practice defining a marine league as the limit of extra-territorial jurisdiction over contiguous navigable waters, which it apparently reversed in defining a line three miles inland from the shore. The earliest definite enunciation of the doctrine of the three-mile limit is attributed to Bynkershoek in the book called “De Dominio Maris,” which was published in 1702. Bynkershoek used the words: “Imperium terrae finiri ubi finitur armorum vis, idem est, quousque tormenta explodunt,” which means, when translated, that a nation controls the open water within the range of cannon shot. The range of cannon at the opening of the eighteenth century was approximately a marine league or three English miles. Unless Bynkershoek invented the three-mile limit, which he probably did not, the period of forty years between 1663 and 1702 is not too long to assume, in a period in which the production of books was not so simple nor so common as at present, for the development of an idea into a principle that would warrant statement by Bynkershoek as an established convention. Whether or not the width of Rhode Island between the eastern boundary line and the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay was defined arbitrarily, or coincidentally, or accidentally, as three miles, or because the marine league had been accepted by English jurists two generations before Bynkershoek wrote his book, the fact remains that the eastern boundary line was delineated masterfully by a consummate geographical genius. He gave Rhode Island the eastern shore of the bay and the highlands beyond, which in his generation would have assured strategic and military control. The fortification of the heights in Tiverton overlooked the fords and ferries in the Seaconnet River, and held the British in Newport during the Revolutionary occupation. While conceding to Plymouth Colony access to the inner harbor, Plymouth’s use thereof must remain forever tributary to Rhode Island. It is perhaps needless to note here that the earlier boundary line was not acceptable to the Plymouth Company or to the Massachusetts Bay Company, which subsequently acquired the rights of the Plymouth Company. As a matter of fact, Plymouth and Massachusetts continued to hold disputed eastern territory until 1742, when a royal decree confirmed Rhode Island’s rights under the Charter.

Quite as much genius was displayed in locating the western and northern boundaries. The western boundary gave to Rhode Island and Connecticut joint possession of Little Narragansett Bay, the estuary at the mouth of the Pawcatuck River, which formed the boundary line at the southwestern corner of Rhode Island. While Little Narragansett Bay is not so accessible as Narragansett Bay, it is capable of development as a harbor. To Rhode Island fell Napatree Point, with possibilities for fortification that were recognized when Fort Mansfield was constructed at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War; and Block Island, which quite as well might have been assigned to New York with Fisher’s Island, because of its proximity to Montauk Point, at the eastern extremity of Long Island. Geological research indicates the possibility that some time there may have been contact between Block Island and Long Island, perhaps by a narrow bar, which was washed away by stormy waves and tidal waters; perhaps, also, that Long Island, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, the Elizabeth Islands and Cape Cod were parts of an earlier continuous coastal plain pierced only by an outward reach of Narragansett Bay, which appears to have existed as a deep valley even in the carboniferous era. The western line as established by the Charter made New York a western neighbor contiguous to Rhode Island by water boundary, wherefore vessels sail from Rhode Island to New York, or from New York to Rhode Island, without the clearance papers that are required for sailings to ports of other than contiguous states.

Northward the western line followed the winding Pawcatuck River, and ran straight from the head of the Pawcatuck River to the southern boundary of Massachusetts. The genius of the geographer appears in this: That very little water and that only the drainage of the small strip of the extreme western territory of Rhode Island which is tributary to the Moosup River flows out of Rhode Island into any other state. The watersheds drained by the Pawtuxet, Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers lie wholly in Rhode Island; vastly most of the drainage areas of the Pawcatuck and Blackstone Rivers are also in Rhode Island, while other rivers flow in from the east and northeast after drawing water from Massachusetts. For strategic and military purposes Rhode Island thus controlled the hills and contours along the line that divided waterflow, and the western line for fortification in wartime, including the field on which would be fought the battle for Providence in modern times, and the hills that command the modern metropolitan city as it stretches under various names almost without break from Woonsocket to East Greenwich and Fall River. To a certain extent the Charter confirmed the boundaries of land purchased from the Indians. The western boundary was located just beyond the headlands separating the watersheds drained by Rhode Island and Connecticut rivers. It probably is not true that the seventeenth century geographer who laid out the boundaries of Rhode Island foresaw the age of industrial development and of machinery in which water and waterfalls would be harnessed to turn the wheels of factories and do the heavy work of civilized man; nevertheless, he did understand thoroughly the significance of Narragansett Bay and of the geographical factors that made it the finest harbor in New England, if not upon the Atlantic seaboard of the United States, and that made it the prize to which Dutch, English and French looked with envious eyes and for which four seventeenth century colonies of English origin, Rhode Island, Plymouth, Massachusetts and Connecticut, contended. Neither Connecticut nor Massachusetts was better satisfied with the western boundary than Plymouth was with the eastern boundary. The economic interest in all the New England colonies is a factor scarcely developed by historians, so much has history, as written in the past, exploited religious controversy rather than the een astuteness in business of the men who controlled or represented the English commercial corporations that were promoting colonization in the seventeenth century. While Roger Williams probably was a dreamer who cared little for his own fortune, and who sometimes neglected his family in his willingness to sacrifice himself and them for the common good, John Clarke who remained in England to complete negotiations for the Charter of 1663, united a splendid nobility of character and idealism with a positive genius for practical affairs. He was the one man in England at the time the King Charles Charter was written who understood Rhode Island.

Of estuaries along the Atlantic coast of the United States, none except Casco Bay in Maine has water deeper than that of Narragansett Bay; yet the harbor at Portland, the city nearest to Casco Bay, is not so deep as Narragansett Bay. Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay are approximately of the same depth as Narragansett Bay; while Massachusetts Bay, Buzzards Bay, Penobscot Bay, Cape Cod Bay and Vineyard Sound are not so deep. Boston, New York City and New London are reached through waters shallower than those of Narragansett Bay. The approach to New London is not directly from the Atlantic Ocean; and the entrance to New York, whether by sound and East River or by Sandy Hook and Staten Island is beset with difficulties.

Narragansett Bay is one of the few harbors into which a vessel may steer directly from the Atlantic Ocean, without serious hazard, in water uniformly more than sixty feet deep, and for the most part more than 100 feet deep. Moreover, it has an advantage over most North American harbors of opening directly to the south, and thus affording shelter within the headlands from the prevailing northerly winds and heavy northeasterly gales that are characteristic of winter weather on the North Atlantic Ocean. The portal opens widely between Port Judith and Seaconnet Point; within the headlands, the Islands of Conanicut and Rhode Island partly stop the gaping mouth, but leave open two entrances easily accessible on either side of Conanicut. Beaver Tail, at the southern extremity of Conanicut, marks the division between East Passage and West Passage; here in 1749-50 a lighthouse was erected, the oldest on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Much earlier, in 1690 certainly, perhaps in 1667, a watch tower and beacon light were maintained at Beaver Tail to warn the people of the colony of the approach of hostile fleets engaged in colonial wars. Within the waters of the bay are two outer closed harbors, one at Newport, and one between Dutch Island and Conanicut, besides the splendid open waterway almost eight miles long directly east of Conanicut. Dutch Island Harbor has been for almost three centuries a favorite anchoring place for vessels seeking refuge from heavy storms. Dutch Island takes its name from the Dutch traders from New Amsterdam (later New York), whose activity in Narragansett Bay so early as 1640 was one reason that induced Roger Williams to visit England for the purpose of obtaining a charter for his colony that would give it legal standing should controversy with the Dutch suggest an appeal to the mother country on behalf of Providence Plantations.

In protected waters in the lower reaches of the bay is anchorage without crowding for the modern navy of a great nation. Verrazzano considered Narragansett Bay sufficient to float the navies of the world in the sixteenth century. Further up the bay are wide reaches of deep and usually quiet water, giving access to other closed harbors in Mount Hope Bay and at Bristol, the harbor chosen by Plymouth; and still further north the approach to Providence through a deep and wide channel easily maintained by occasional dredging. The northern extension of Narragansett Bay, Providence River and Seekonk River reaches thirty-five miles inland from the ocean, and constitutes what has been called happily and proudly the “Gateway to New England.” Before the Revolutionary War Newport was the port of Narragansett Bay; its commerce exceeded that of any other harbor in North America. The French acquaintance with Narragansett Bay, renewed during the Revolutionary War, suggested a request for the cession by the United States to France of Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island as a token of American gratitude, in payment of the debt of the United States to France, and as a naval base to be held by France in anticipation of other wars with England. This, without doubt, was one reason, somewhat neglected by historians, which was weighty in determining Rhode Island’s distrust of the Congress of the Confederation after the war, and which suggested careful consideration before Rhode Island made the Constitution of the United States constitutional by ratifying it. Narragansett Bay was the most precious possession of Rhode Island in the early centuries; it is in the twentieth century.

An estuary affording safe anchorage for large fleets and yielding annually a wealth of shellfish, including oysters, clams, quahaugs, scallops, mussels, crabs and lobsters, with the possibility suggested that a revival of a rich vertebrate food and fertilizer fishery, well known to Indians and colonists, awaits only the perfection of devices for filtering sewage and the purification of waste water, is an asset to be cherished. The value of these resources was recognized in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as were also the commercial advantages that accrue from deep channels running close to shore and affording opportunity for the construction of wharves at minimum cost, alongside of which vessels might lie to discharge or take on cargoes without the inconvenience and expense involved in the building and using of piers and slips. So fine a waterway as Narragansett Bay might be wasted commercially, nevertheless, if its location were not advantageous externally as well as internally. Beaver Tail, dividing East Passage from West Passage, lies in latitude 41° 27′ north and longitude 71 0 24′ west. Directly east by great circle sailing lie northern Spain and Portugal, Oporto being almost due east of Narragansett Bay. Because of the long eastern projection of New England, Narragansett Bay is more than 100 miles nearer than is New York to Amsterdam, Bordeaux and Liverpool. Marseilles and other southern European ports on the Mediterranean Sea, as well as Constantinople, and Port Said at the western entrance to the Suez Canal, are all nearer to Narragansett Bay than to New York. With respect to European ports, New York is nearer than Philadelphia, Baltimore and Charleston, which emphasizes the advantage of Narragansett Bay.

The Bermuda Islands are located almost due east from Charleston, South Carolina, and almost due south of Narragansett Bay; the sailing distances from the Bermudas to American ports are: Narragansett Bay, 631 miles; New York, 681 miles; Boston, 688 miles; Philadelphia, 730 miles; Charleston, 787 miles. Rhode Island is almost directly north of the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, thus having convenient approach to the Panama Canal, Caribbean Sea ports, and ports along the northeast coast of South America. The continent of South America lies so far east, relative to the continent of North America, that vessels following great circle courses, which correspond to straight lines on plane surfaces, may travel almost directly south from New England, and particularly Narragansett Bay, to South America, whereas vessels from other harbors must lay courses sharply diagonal to meridians. Porta, Peru, one of the most western cities of South America, is almost directly south of Key West, Florida. Cartagena, Colombia, near the western edge of the north coast is almost directly due south from: Philadelphia. A line drawn through Trinidad Island passes east of Halifax and west of ports in Brazil, Uruguay, the Guianas, and the city of Buenos Ayres, Argentina. Narragansett Bay is nearer to Trinidad than Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans and New York With respect to Cartagena, Narragansett Bay is 138 miles nearer than Boston, and somewhat less than fifty to seventy-five miles farther than New York or Philadelphia.

Most of South America lies east of the Panama Canal. Most South American Pacific ports lie almost directly south from Narragansett Bay. The building of the Panama Canal has emphasized the advantage of the Atlantic over the Pacific ports of the United States, because of the long northwestern slope of the coast of Central America and Mexico away from the Panama Canal, San Francisco, which is located a little south of due west from Narragansett Bay is 1183 miles further from the canal than is Narragansett Bay. The sailing distances to the Panama Canal are: Narragansett Bay, 2062 miles; San Francisco, 3245 miles. The advantage for Narragansett Bay is approximately the distance from Narragansett Bay to Key West, Florida. The advantage over San Francisco is maintained for all South American ports on the Pacific; thus, the sailing distance from Narragansett Bay to Valparaiso, Chile, is 4678 miles, while San Francisco lies 5407 to the northwest, a variation ot 700 miles. On coast to coast shipments, the long water route of 5300 miles from San Francisco via the Panama Canal to Narragansett Bay, is so much shorter in time and so much cheaper in freight rate than the overland haul across the continent that a profitable and growing interoceanic commerce has developed. Narragansett Bay has become a favorite eastern port for landing and distributing as well as for gathering and shipping cargoes for this trade.

Quite contrary to the modern teaching that waterways tend to promote communication by furnishing facilities for comfortable travel, Narragansett Bay has sometimes been discussed as an obstacle to close union among the early settlers. Thus President Gammell of the Rhode Island Historical Society, in 1885, wrote: “With the waters of the bay stretching between them, sometimes boisterous, sometimes frozen, and always dangerous, how were they to be brought together in this infancy of their existence? We little appreciate, or even imagine, how formidable was the barrier thus interposed in those early days. The passage from the plantations of Aquidneck to those of Providence, even in the most favorable circumstances, required a long day of hard rowing in Indian canoes or in the rude boats which the settlers soon began to build for themselves.” The same author cites the instructions given by the town meeting of Providence to the town’s delegates to the first meeting of the General Assembly, at Portsmouth, in May, 1647, ending “We commit you unto the protection and direction of the Almighty, wishing you a comfortable voyage, a happy success and a safe return unto us,” as confirming his opinion. These words may well tend to refute the contention that Providence Plantations, for want of an established church, had become a resort for ungodly outcasts of decent society, and may well be attributed to the fine spirit of piety and hope that had inspired the naming of the settlement begun by Roger Williams on the bank of the Moshassuck in 1636 as Providence in recognition of the Providence of God; but no one who contrasts the ease of travel by canoe or boat with the hardship of overland travel through the wilderness need be misled. The comparative ease of communication by water between settlements made possible in Rhode Island the development of pronounced individualism in settlements that otherwise were isolated unto themselves, and tended to preserve a democracy founded on a recognition of the rights of the citizen at a time in which the combination of church and state in other colonies was centralizing and concentrating authority, fashioning a theocracy modeled upon Old Testament precedents, and forging fetters for those who without interference and constraint might have become tolerant and liberal-minded. As a matter of fact, the waters of the bay furnished the finest possible means of communication and intercourse between settlements if and when either was desired, and an equally convenient separation if and when that was preferable. And, besides that, they furnished the environmental conditions needed to train a race of hardy, adventurous sailors and daring sea captains, ardent lovers of freedom, who carried the Flag to every port in the seven seas, and who played their part in commerce and in war with honor and glory to themselves and to their state.

Geological studies of Rhode Island indicate how kindly the Creator has treated the Narragansett Bay country, and how carefully the terrain of little state and mighty commonwealth had been prepared for a people chosen to demonstrate the eternal verity of democracy. Post-glacial Rhode Island differed radically from Rhode Island of the period preceding the coming and going of the ice cap that sometime covered most of the United States. Here the scratched and grooved, partly evened face of outcropping ledge indicates the course of sliding glaciers, moving ponderously toward the sea; and there a tremendous boulder rounded and smoothed in the course of a long journey from the ledge from which it was torn away stands where the glacier dropped it, mute evidence of the enormous forces working through the ice age. Deep pond or lake, sandy plain and rolling hill, and rock-strewn field—all help the geologist to read and write a story that is as fascinating as any other page of history.

The glaciers cut deep ravines, smoothed plains, piled up sand hills by holding back eddying water until it had dropped the silt snatched in some wildly rushing freshet, and by building lateral and terminal moraine changed the courses of rivers, turning them away from old and into new beds as they flowed on inevitably and forever toward the ocean. In Washington County a terminal moraine turned several rivers, that otherwise flowed probably southerly into the Atlantic Ocean, westward into the valley of the Pawcatuck River, thus increasing the volume of the stream and the strength of the current. The rocky falls in the Pawcatuck and its feeders are also somewhat products of the ice age, have increased the commercial possibilities of this stream, and have transformed what otherwise might have been a quiet agricultural community into a thriving industrial center. Few Rhode Island rivers “flow gently” as “Sweet Afton.”

There is reason for believing that the course of the Pawtuxet River was changed during the glacial age, and that its earlier outlet to Narragansett Bay at Apponaug was abandoned for a wild and turbulent rush, through rocky gorges in some places, toward the present outlet six miles farther north. The Woonasquatucket River, and both north and south branches of the Pawtuxet River show interesting geological phenomena, most of which involved the development of water power and predetermined the nineteenth century industrial exploitation of these valleys. The size and depth of the Moshassuck Valley and the river bed are out of proportion to the present volume of water, and suggest that some time the Black-stone River flowed almost directly south through the Moshassuck Valley into Narragansett Bay. Held back in the glacial period by an obstruction near Scott’s Pond, the Blackstone River turned eastward and cut a new bed for itself, piling up rocky barriers of dropping boulders, and tumbling riotously down over precipitous slopes at Lonsdale Falls, Valley Falls, Central Falls and Pawtucket Falls. Man came and found that nature had prepared the way for his dams and sluices, for further control of the water.

Past Pawtucket Falls the Blackstone River found a natural outlet through what may have been the ancient bed of Abbott’s Run extended or the Ten Mile River, although in the latter instance the geological formation indicates the possibility, that the river flowed not into the present valley of the Seekonk, but into the Runnin’s River, and thence by Barrington and Warren Rivers into the Bay. The new course of the Blackstone River predetermined the site for what is perhaps the most intensive industrial development in the world. The construction of the Blackstone Canal scarcely would have been feasible in view of established mill and factory water rights in the lower Blackstone River, if the Moshassuck Valley had not provided an approach to the upper Blackstone River near Lonsdale, above the major water falls. As it was, the statute incorporating the Blackstone Canal Company and authorizing the construction of the canal required the proprietors to pump back into the Blackstone River, within every twenty-four hours, water in volume equal to that drawn out from above to fill the series of locks required to mount the elevation between the watersheds.

These are only surface indications; to account for the disappearance of water from ponds having no surface outlets, and for the constant level of water in ponds having no surface feeders, and for the vast quantities of water that may be drawn from artesian wells that do not pierce the igneous and carboniferous rocky strata, the geologist weaves a tale of water seeping through loose formations into beds of ancient rivers and streams, and flowing on below the soil ever toward the ocean. The story indicates the devious and almost incomprehensible ways in which the physical environment may be constructed and modified, and suggests the Providence of God working wonders in New England in the environment as well as in the souls of men.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy; vol 1 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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