Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Timeline

  • Bob Billington begins the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council

  • Blackstone Valley historic sites brochure

  • First room tax is implemented by the state

  • Billington hired as first full time director

  • Federal government authorizes the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

  • Pawtucket holidays brochure

  • Blackstone Valley holidays brochure

  • Blackstone Valley historic mills brochure

  • The Tourism Council moves to the Northgate Tollhouse in Lincoln

  • Blackstone Valley Banner Tours, self-driving tours of the nine Blackstone Valley communities

  • First interns from Johnson & Wales Department of Travel and Tourism

  • Blackstone Valley Passport Sample Tour Packet

  • Springtime in the Blackstone Valley brochure

  • Blackstone Valley summer events brochure

  • Christmas in the Valley brochure

  • Launched "Destination Blackstone River Valley – Something New, Something Different" slogan

  • Scheduled seven bus tours of the Blackstone Valley highlighting the area as a tourism destination

  • Fulfilled 10,000 mail requests for information

  • Blackstone Valley Tourism One 16 foot rubber raft

  • First part-time staffer co-ordinates interpretive canoe trips, bus tours and railway trips

  • Fall foliage train ride aboard the Providence & Worcester Railroad

  • Released "The Fiber That Wove America’s Spirit", with soundtrack by Pendragon, a promotional videotape of the Blackstone Valley

  • Travel Experiences trade show in conjunction with Conway Tours

  • 8-foot tall William Blackstone character appears at special events and parades

  • "Blackstone River Valley Fresh Water Fishing Guide"

  • Interpretive bus tours, canoe and train trips

  • William Blackstone Society Awards

  • Glass-bottom boat cruises

  • “Let’s Build a Boat” campaign raises $50,000 over three years to purchase a 49-foot Explorer riverboat

  • Steamboat Muster at the State Pier in Pawtucket

  • Moved Tourism Council headquarters to larger office space at Blackstone Valley Electric Co. building on Route 116 in Lincoln, RI

  • Comprehensive tourism guide for the Blackstone Valley

  • Organized "Turn it Around with Tourism" conference at Bryant College with Dr. Pat Manheim of Johnson and Wales University

  • Events of the Week, a regular media release, was sent to over 300 media outlets

  • 49 passenger Blackstone Valley Explorer, the first riverboat on the Blackstone in 170 years

  • Blackstone Valley Surrey

  • Blackstone Valley-Amber Valley Compact in Belper, England with delegation from Blackstone Valley traveling to Amber Valley to celebrate the signing and participate in “twinning ceremony” with Belper, England

  • RiverClassroom program on the Explorer, offers history, ecology and wildlife education to students

  • Blackstone Valley Trolley

  • On behalf of the Town of Cumberland, began selling 1st edition, Cumberland by the Blackstone – 250 years of Heritage by Dave Balfour and Joyce Hindle Koutsogiane on behalf of the Town of Cumberland

  • Hosts 45-member Thornton’s Brass Band from the Amber Valley, England

  • Moved Tourism Council headquarters to 171 Main Street, Pawtucket

  • Opened full-time Visitor Center in the Blackstone Valley, located in Pawtucket

  • Hollywood Walk of Fame commemorates filming American Buffalo movie in Pawtucket

  • World Canal Conference

  • Blackstone Valley Watershed Council

  • "World Canal Conference" held in the Blackstone Valley

  • Christmas trolley tours through the Blackstone Valley

  • Second riverboat, the Spirit of Blackstone Valley

  • Tourism business networking events

  • Blackstone River received the prestigious designation of American Heritage River

  • "Rhode Island Rivers Day," celebrates the Blackstone River’s impact on the community and honors its volunteers

  • Christmas light tours

  • Brought English soccer teams to the Blackstone Valley


  • Hope and Renaissance European-style ferry boats shuttle commuters between Providence & Pawtucket

  • POLAR EXPRESSTM Train Ride, launched with permission from author Chris Van Allsburg and publisher Houghton Mifflin

  • Moved Tourism Council headquarters to permanent office at 175 Main Street, Pawtucket across from historic Slater Mill information kiosk, the Slater Mill Gift Shop and Gallery, the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Gallery, a movie theatre, RIPTA bus station, and Tourism Council offices

  • Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Race and Taiwan Day Festival

  • Pawtucket Arts Festival

  • Samuel Slater British canal boat provides daytime cruising or overnight accommodations

  • Hosted 28 person tour group from the Amber Valley of England – Belper, England is the hometown of Samuel Slater

  • Central Falls Landing project

  • Purchase 1981 British model double-decker tour bus

  • Created worldwide publicity for the Blackstone Valley after sending 7-foot tall Mr. Potato Head to England

  • Launched website promoting attractions, events and other Blackstone Valley information

  • Easter Bunny Express train ride

  • Great American Cleanup partnership in cooperation with nine Blackstone Valley communities

  • DeTours provided self-guided maps featuring themed tours in the Valley

  • Project Zap

  • promotes the Blackstone Valley Bike Path

  • listsand promotes Blackstone Valley events

  • Blackstone Valley Canoe Trail civic art project

  • "Footsteps in History" event, “Five Centuries in Three Days,” a culmination of the Preserve America communities award

  • Obtained licensing by Warner Brothers to host THE POLAR EXPRESSTM Ride

  • database of Blackstone Valley restaurants and eating establishments

  • Double decker bus

  • Receive United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ulysses Prize

  • Attained UNWTO .sBEST certification

  • Blackstone River State Park Visitor Center opens off I-295 in Lincoln

  • Hosted "RI Tourism Sustainability" Conference

  • Completed first "Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Tourism Economic Impact" study with assistance from the Travel Industry Association of America

  • Blackstone Alert website provides information in case of weather and other emergencies

  • BVTC is recognized by the National Geographic Society as a sustainable tourism development pioneer on the Center for Sustainable Destinations website

  • Received world-wide publicity in Dubai, UAE, by the World Travel and Tourism Council, winning top Tourism for Tomorrow Destination award

  • Rhode Island Green Visitor Guide for the Blackstone Valley uses all environmentally-friendly methods and materials, and highlights eco-friendly destinations, activities and environmental principles

  • “Free Sundays” aboard the Explorer riverboat, sponsored for public enjoyment by the Citizens Bank Foundation

  • Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful program is certified by Keep America Beautiful

  • Win $50,000 Preserve America grant for the Broad Street Regeneration Project

  • Broad Street Regeneration Project with Mayors of Pawtucket, Central Falls and Cumberland

  • Tour Your Own Backyard

  • “Blackstone Valley Salsa” and “Blackstone Valley Dynamite Sauce” food contests

  • Events of the Week, a regular news release was emailed to over 300 media outlets and linked to a widening network of websites.

  • Joined FaceBook and Twitter

  • Sustainable Tourism Planning and Development Laboratory is accepted as partner to: Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance of the United Nations Foundation; Rain Forest Alliance; United Nations World Tourism Organization.

  • Civic Tourism II Conference dealing with sustainable tourism concepts hosts 180 participants

  • "Achievement in Rhode Island Sustainable Tourism" Award (ARISTA) acknowledges the efforts of qualified non-profit organizations incorporating sustainable practices

  • Family Guy tours

  • Blackstone Culinaria weekly food tours

  • Rhode Island Cherry Blossom Festival brings Asia & American culture together with a parade, dancing, demonstrations, cherry tree plantings and May Breakfast

  • Leisurely Bicycle Tours

  • Abraham Lincoln train trip

  • Began Chocolate Mill Overlook campaign

  • Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame commemorates Rhode Island's musical heritage through a museum and annual induction ceremonies.

  • Chocolate Mill Overlook
  • First inaugural concert and ceremony for the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame
  • Hachiko monument unveiled in Woonsocket
  • Annual Cupid Ball
  • Ghost Army film and reception held at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket
  • Sharrow marking system to connect bikeways
  • Special Polar Express Event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the movie, featuring: author Chris Van Allsburg, Warner Brothers, Rail Events, Lionel Trains, and artist Patrick Kinkade.
  • Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
  • Blackstone Shop
  • Ghost Army event at the Stadium Theatre commemorates the film
  • Pawtucket River Bridge concerts feature DotAir and Louisiana Nights shows
  • Burrillville geotourism project
  • Central falls bridge lighting
  • River Island Campground
  • Helped create Paths to Progress RI to advocate for completion of the state bike path system
  • Three wheel bike to transport and deliver tourism literature
  • Drone video of the Valley
  • Proposed $10 million for bike path construction as part of the Green bond