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Rivers of Rhode Island


Picture of Rhode Island
Picture of Rhode Island

Except for a small area along the border with Connecticut, all of northern Rhode Island is drained by river systems that discharge into Narragansett Bay, while rivers in the south drain directly into the Atlantic Ocean. The largest drainage region that is entirely within the state is that of the Pawtuxet River system. It extends over one-fourth of the state’s land area. Many of the rivers are interrupted by small waterfalls and rapids, which were a valuable source of waterpower for Rhode Island’s earliest industries, and which powered the much more significant textile industry when it developed during the 19th century. The Blackstone River is the longest and most important of the state’s rivers. It crosses from Massachusetts into Rhode Island near Woonsocket and then flows southeast, joining the Seekonk River at Pawtucket. Other rivers are the Woonasquatucket and the Moshassuck, which join shortly before entering the Providence River, and the Pawcatuck, which drains southwestern Rhode Island and forms part of the Connecticut-Rhode Island border.

Lakes


Rhode Island has no large natural lakes, but there are 383 lakes and ponds that have surface areas of 20 hectares (50 acres) or greater. Extending over 419 hectares (1,036 acres), Worden Pond is the largest natural freshwater body in the state. Among the impoundments, the Scituate Reservoir is largest at 1,470 hectares (3,633 acres). Created by damming the North Branch of the Pawtuxet River, it supplies water to more than one-half the population of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island fronts the Atlantic Ocean for 64 km (40 mi), but Narragansett Bay and numerous inlets result in the state having a tidal shoreline of 618 km (384 mi). Extending inland for 42 km (26 mi) to Providence, Narragansett Bay is the state’s dominant natural feature.

Located in the bay are the islands of Rhode (also known as Aquidneck), Conanicut, and Prudence, as well as more than 30 smaller islands. The principal arms of the bay are known as rivers. They include the Seekonk and Providence rivers, which are a continuation of the Blackstone River, and the Sakonnet River, which is located between Rhode Island and the mainland. Long, sandy barrier beaches, backed by shallow lagoons and marshes, border the Atlantic Ocean from the entrance of Narragansett Bay to the state border with Connecticut. The coastline east of the bay is characterized by rocky headlands interspersed with sandy beaches. "Rhode Island" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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