AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #75a -- Washington, DC to Boston, Massachusetts
Part 7 - New London to Providence
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Bridgeport to New London
Providence to Boston


350.5 NEW LONDON station, 27 Water Street.  Elevation approximately 6 ft.  New London was named after London, England, and was first settled by Puritans under. John Winthrop, Jr., in 1646.  The Pequot Indians called the settlement Nameaug, and, during the 1650’s, the Connecticut General Assembly wanted to retain the name Nameaug; however, the settlers insisted it be called New London, so it was officially changed on March 10, 1658.

          During the Revolutionary War, the harbor here, on the Thames (pronounced thayms) River was a good natural harbor, and therefore became a base of U.S. Naval operations during the Revolution.  In 1781, New London was raided by the British under traitor Benedict Arnold, and mostly burned to the ground.  In 1784, New London, as well as New Haven, were both incorporated as cities.

         During the War of 1812, torpedoes fired from New London were used to protect the harbor.  Before the war, the whaling industry began to grow here, and reached its peak in the mid-19th Century, when approximately 75 whaling boats were staged here.

         New London’s downtown historic district includes Patriot Nathan Hale’s schoolhouse, the Captain’s Walk, and several Greek Revival homes along Whale Oil Row, plus the historic 1760 New London Lighthouse.  It is also the home of the Connecticut College Arboretum, Fort Trumbull State Park, then U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Lyman Allyn Art Museum, and the Shaw Mansion.  Ocean Beach State Park is also nearby.

          In addition to being the home of Patriot Nathan Hale, New London was also the home of playwright Eugene O’Neil and lawyer L. Patrick Gray, of Watergate fame.

351.5 Cross Thames River.  The Thames is a drowned river valley, which existed prior to the Pleistocene Ice Age, but was later inundated as the glaciers retreated to the north and sea level rose.

352-353 Pass through Groton, long known as a shipbuilding hub.  Groton is the home of Electric Boat Corporation, who build submarines for the U.S. Navy.  In 1705, Groton was established when it separated from New London. The area was originally inhabited by Pequot Indians, who began trading with white settlers in 1614.  Farming and livestock developed in the early days.

          During the American Revolution, on September 6, 1781, the Battle of Groton Heights was fought here between a combined force of state troops and local militia led by William Ledyard and numerous British forces led by Benedict Arnold.  After the war, shipbuilding began in Groton, as well as in nearby Mystic (see MP 360 below).  After the War of 1812, the whaling industry began to grow prominent in Groton.  During the Civil War, ships for both sides of the War were built here.  During the 20th Century, shipbuilding returned to the area, and in 1911, the New London Ship & Engine Company became a subsidiary of Electric Boat Corporation.  In 1954, Electric Boat launched the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine.  Presently, the Nautilus is decommissioned and open for visitors, permanently berthed at the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum.

          Groton is the home of Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park, and the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Museum & Library.

354.5 On the right (northbound) is the Groton-New London Airport, established in 1929 as the first State-owned airport in Connecticut.  It was formerly known as Trumbull Field, named after Jonathan Trumbull, an early Governor of Connecticut, who served as governor of both a pre-Revolution colony and a post-Revolution state.

355    Cross Poquonock River and pass through community of Poquonock Bridge.  On the right (northbound) is the 806-acre Bluff Point Coastal Reserve, composed of Precambrian-aged Mamacoke Formation and New London Gneiss (Mamacoke Fm. is also composed of gneiss).  We are still crossing the Avalon Terrane (see MP 302 above).  Bluff Point offers fishing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking opportunities.

356    On the right (northbound) is Mumford Cove.  We are now crossing the Mystic Moraine and passing through Haley Farm State Park, in which numerous large glacial boulders from the Mystic Moraine can be seen.  The Haley farm is a Colonial-aged dairy farmstead.  Land containing the acreage for Haley Farm State Park was part of a larger parcel granted to John Winthrop, Jr., in 1649.  Known as "John Winthrop the Younger," Winthrop was governor of the Saybrook Colony and is often recognized as "Connecticut's first Governor."

357    Cross Palmer Cove.

357-358 Pass through Noank, which was known as Nauyang, meaning “point of land” by the early Pequot Indians.  In 1655, following the Pequot War, the Pequots were taken in by the English colonists.  The village was acquired in 1712 by James Morgan, through a lottery.  Shipbuilding has always been a significant part of the economy here.  The fishing sailboat type known as the "Noank Smack" is indigenous to this village.  Around 1912, the Connecticut State Lobster Hatchery was established here.

         Many buildings on Noank are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  Noank hosts the longest continually-running Memorial Day parade in the United States, held every year since 1875.  On February 7, 1931, Aviator Amelia Earhart married George Palmer Putnam here.

358-359 Cross a causeway spanning Mystic Harbor.  Cross Sixpenny Island; the larger island on the right (northbound) is Mason Island, which is part of the Pleistocene-aged Mystic Moraine, and, like Haley Farm State Park (see MP 356 above), contains many large glacial boulders.  Beneath the glacial morainic deposits is the Precambrian-aged Rope Ferry Gneiss, which, on Mason Island, has been intruded by the much younger Permian-aged (approximately 275 million years old) Westerly Granite, a very homogeneously-grained gray building stone,  Reportedly, this Westerly Granite was used in the construction of some of the pillars in New York City’s Penn Station.

          Immediately west of the Mystic River, we cross the north-trending Lantern Hill Fault Zone, which was active during the development of the Hartford Basin (see MP 297 above).

359.5 Cross Mystic River.

360   MYSTIC station. 2 Roosevelt Avenue.  Elevation approximately 11 ft.  Mystic is best known as a leading seaport and shipbuilding community.  Its name was derived from the Pequot Indian word missi-tuk, which means “a large river whose waters are driven into waves by wind.”  Prior to European settlement, the Pequots lived in the area.  In 1632, the Dutch established a trading post near present-day Hartford, and to get to the post, both the Pequot and the Narragansett tribes had to travel through the area of what is now Mystic.  The two tribes grew hostile toward each other, which resulted in the Pequot War of 1636, between the Pequots, who were allies of the settlers, and the Narragansett and Mohegan Tribes, who were not friendly with the settlers. The Pequots lost the war.  The Pequot War ended in 1638 with the Treaty of Hartford, which required all intertribal differences between the Natives be arbitrated by the English.

          After the Pequot War, settlement here grew slowly, and the Connecticut Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony began quarreling over colonial boundaries.  In 1679, the first public schools were built here.  Throughout the 18th Century, Mystic's economy was composed of manufacturing, road building, and maritime trades.  Agriculture was the main component of their economy, since most of the citizens were farmers. Shipbuilding became dominant in the 19th Century, and in 1861, the first regular ironclad vessel, the Galena was built here.

         Nearby Mystic Seaport contains historic shops and buildings from the mid-19th Century shipbuilding era.  The last wooden whaling ship, the Charles W Morgan, is located at Mystic Seaport.  The Morgan and other historic boats can be boarded by visitors.

         Mystic is also the home of the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration, which contains exhibits about Dr. Robert Ballard, the discoverer of the Titanic shipwreck.  Mystic is also the home of the Denison Homestead Museum, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, and the Mystic Arts Center.  Various schooner cruises are also available here.  In addition, the Mystic train station was once used by Lionel as a model for their Lionelsville model railroad station.

361.5 The hill on the left (northbound) is part of the Mystic Moraine.  Beneath the glacial deposits is the Precambrian-aged Rope Ferry Gneiss.  Cross Quiambog Cove.

363   Cross Stonington Harbor.

363.5 Pass through Stonington.  In 1649, a trading post was constructed here by the Europeans. The area was controlled by the Pequot Indians prior to European settlement.  In 1658, the community was named Souther Towne, or Southerton, by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  In 1662, the Connecticut Colony acquired its royal charter, and Southerton was renamed Stonington.  Stonington was bombarded twice by the British, once in 1775 during the American Revolution, and once again in 1814, during the War of 1812.  During the 19th Century, Stonington became a whaling, sealing, and transportation hub. It was also a shipbuilding hub known as the “nursery of sea men.”  One of the area’s most famous sea men was Nathaniel B. Palmer, who discovered the continent of Antarctica in 1820.  Later, Palmer’s clipper ship Houqua broke the speed record to Hong Kong.

         South of the railroad (right if northbound), at the end of Stonington Point, is the Old Stone Lighthouse, constructed of locally-derived Hope Valley Alaskite Gneiss, of Precambrian age.

          Stonington was the home of “Jaws” author Peter Benchley, poet Stephen Vincent Benét, and comedienne Ruth Buzzi.

364.5-365 Cross Wequetequock Cove

366-367 We are still traversing the Mystic Moraine system.

368-369 Pass through Pawcatuck.

369    Cross Pawcatuck River and enter WASHINGTON County, RHODE ISLAND, and the city of Westerly.  Washington County is known locally as “South County.”  It was originally called Kings County, in 1729; however, on October 29, 1781, it was renamed Washington County in honor of President George Washington. Similar to Connecticut, Rhode Island counties have no governmental functions other than as court administrative and sheriff corrections boundaries, which are part of the state government; therefore, do not have county seats.

         WESTERLY station, 14 Railroad Avenue.  Elevation approximately 36 ft.  The town was named for its location in the State of Rhode Island, being the westernmost community in the State,  In 1648, Westerly’s first European residents, John and Mary Babcock, eloped here,  For the first 50 years of its existence, there were border disputes between the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island.  In 1728, the boundaries were officially determined.  During the American Revolution, nearby Watch Hill was a lookout for marauding offshore British troops.

          The Permian-aged Westerly Granite was quarried from nearby granite quarries in the early days of the community, and soon textiles and shipbuilding also became prominent. Today Westerly is a tourist destination, and has several unique rocky beaches, such as Misquamicut State Beach and Wilcox Park. Westerly is also the home of the Flying Horse Carousel, on Watch Hill Beach, each horse of which has been hand carved and has a tail of real horsehair.

          Even though Westerly is far north along the Eastern Seaboard, it can still be affected by tropical storms and hurricanes which originated much further south and east.  Westerly was devastated in 1938, 1944, and 1954 by several major hurricanes.  In 2012, Superstorm Sandy left beaches along the Westerly shoreline devastated and nearly unrecognizable, including Misquamicut State Beach.

371    On the right (northbound) is Chapman Pond. Hills on either side of the railroad here are composed of the Permian-aged Narragansett Pier Plutonic Suite, consisting largely of granite, and the Precambrian-aged Plainfield and Mamacoke Formations, consisting of gneiss and quartzite.

373.5 Pass through Bradford, named after the town of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England.  The Bradford Village Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

          Bradford is the home of the Bradford Dyeing Association (BDA), which produces battle uniforms for the U.S. Military.  In 2005, BDA was fined for contamination of the nearby Pawcatuck River, and also for numerous air pollution violations.  In November, 2005, BDA paid $150,000 in fines, and was required to make non-polluting improvements to its textile mill.

374    Cross Pawcatuck River.

375.5 Shumunkanuc Hill is visible on the right (northbound), a glacial hill underlain by the Precambrian-aged Sterling Igneous Suite.

377-378 Cross a branch of the Pawcatuck River twice

377.5 Pass through Wood River Junction, the home of a former Wood River Branch Railroad Station.  The Wood River Branch of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was chartered in 1872 and completed in 1874.  On April 19, 1873 a train disaster was caused by a bridge washout and burning of passenger cars.  The New Haven Railroad took over operation of the Branch in 1892 and eventually abandoned it on August 8, 1947.

381    Pass through Shannock, which is a historic mill village along the Pawcatuck River.  One historic mill is located in the western portion of the village, and the other in the eastern portion. These Victorian buildings were constructed during the 2nd half of the 19th Century.

         Shannock Hill, on the left (northbound) is composed of rocks of the Scituate Igneous Suite, aka the Scituate batholith.  These Devonian-aged granitic rocks intruded the older, Precambrian-aged Esmond Igneous Suite.  Within the batholith, metamorphic foliation appears, which is part of the Hope Valley shear zone, which is younger than the Devonian granitic intrusion.  The granite within the Scituate Igneous Suite is gray to pink colored.

382-385 Cross the Great Swamp, which is underlain by augen granite gneiss of the Precambrian-Aged Esmond Igneous Suite.  Augen gneiss contains larger elliptic or lenticular crystals of feldspar within the fine-grained layering of quartz, biotite, or magnetite bands.

385.5 WEST KINGSTON station, formerly known as Kingston, 1 Railroad Avenue.  Elevation approximately 110.  West Kingston is the AMTRAK station for nearby Kingston, located approximately one mile east.  Kingston was originally called Little Rest, but was renamed Kingston in 1826.  It was originally the Washington County seat, until 1894. Kingston is the home of the University of Rhode Island, established in 1888 as the Rhode Island Agricultural School and Agricultural Experiment Station.  It did not become the University of Rhode Island until 1951.  Most of the village of West Kingston is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

387    Cross Chipuxet River.  Thirty Acre Pond, an enlargement of the river, is visible on the right (northbound).  This river is used as a water supply for the University of Rhode Island, in Kingston.

389.5 Pass through Slocum.  Hills on the left (northbound) are composed of the Precambrian-aged Esmond Igneous Suite.

391.5 At approximately this location, we are crossing a fault which separates the Precambrian-aged Esmund Igneous Suite and the Pennsylvanian-aged Narragansett Bay Group, which consists of sandstone and shale.

393.5 Pass Wickford Junction.

395.5 Pass through the Village of Davisville, located within the Town of North Kingstown.  On the right (northbound) is the Rhode Island Computer Museum, containing vintage computers.  Davisville was formerly the home of the Davisville Construction Battalion Center (NCBC).  The U.S. Navy acquired the property in 1939.  The base was decommissioned in 1974 and closed in 1994.

397,5 Cross Hunt River and enter KENT County, named after County Kent in England.  It was created in 1750 from the southern third of Providence County.  Like other counties in Rhode Island and Connecticut, there is no county seat.

398-400 Pass through East Greenwich, the wealthiest town in the State of Rhode Island.  It was founded by the Rhode Island General Assembly as Greenwich in 1677, and named after Greenwich, England. In 1686, it was renamed Dedford, but then reverted to the Greenwich name in 1869.  In 1741, the western portion of town separated itself from the remainder of the town and was known as West Greenwich; therefore, the remainder of the town was named East Greenwich.

         As we pass through East Greenwich, Greenwich Cove of Narragansett Bay is visible on the right (northbound).

400.5 Pass through Chepiwanoxet, which was settled in the early 1700’s as a colonial farm.  Inn 1837, after the railroad came through, it became a beach resort.

402   Cross Apponaug Cove, and pass through Apponaug, a neighborhood of downtown Warwick.  The word Apponaug is a derivation of a Narragansett Indian word meaning “place of oysters.”  The neighborhood was originally started as a large traffic circle.

404   Pass through Hillsgrove.  On the right (northbound) is the T.F. Green Airport, dedicated on September 27, 1931.  From 1942 through 1945, the U.S. Army used the Airport for training.  Today T.F. Green is the largest airport in the State and serves the Providence area.

          Hillsgrove is a village within the town of Warwick, established in 1867, when industrialist Thomas Jefferson Hill built the Rhode Island Malleable Iron Works,

         The Town of Warwick was founded in 1642 by Samuel Gorton, who purchased the land from the Narragansett Indians.  In 1648, Gorton was granted a Charter by Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick.  In 1772, Warwick was the scene of the first violent act against the Crown in what came to be called the Gaspee Affair. Local patriots boarded the Gaspee, a revenue cutter charged with enforcing the Stamp Act 1765 and Townshend Acts in Narragansett Bay where smuggling was common.  It was here that the first blood was spilled in the American Revolution when Gaspee's commanding officer Lt. Dudingston was shot and seriously wounded during the struggle for the ship.  The Gaspee was stripped of all cannons and arms, then burned.

         Warwick was the home of George M. Cohan, the “father of Broadway,” Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, U.S. Navy Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, famous for the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and Roger Williams, the 1636 founder of the Providence Plantation.

406.5 Cross Pawtucket River and enter PROVIDENCE County and the city of Cranston.

          Providence County was created on June 22, 1703, as the County of Providence Plantations,. which was organized by Roger Williams.  It consisted of five towns, namely Providence, Warwick, Westerly, Kingstown, and Greenwich and encompassed territory in present-day Kent and Washington Counties.  Washington County was split off as King's County in 1729, while Kent County was split off in 1750.  County government in Rhode Island was abolished in 1842.  Providence County, like other counties in Rhode Island, has no governmental functions, other than as court administrative and sheriff corrections boundaries which are part of state government.  The largest city in the county is Providence, which is also the State Capital. (see MP 413 below)

         Cranston was created in 1754 from a portion of Providence County located north of the Pawtucket River.  It did not become a city until March 10, 1910.  The land was purchased in 1638 from the Narragansett Indians by Puritan theologian Roger Williams. Cranston’s first settler was Stephen Arnold, who built a gristmill here.  Stephen was the father of Benedict Arnold, the first Governor of Rhode Island, who later became a traitor and fought for the British during the American Revolution.  The city was named after either Governor Samuel Cranston, or his grandson Thomas Cranston, who served as Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

         Narragansett Park, the first automobile racing venue in the Nation, is located in Cranston, as is the Budlong Pool, one of the largest pools in the country, built in the 1940’s by the Works Program Administration.  The 18th Century Sprague Mansion and the 1677 Thomas Fenner House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

410    Pass beneath Route 10, the Huntington Expressway.

412.5 Pass beneath Interstate 95 and the Providence Place Mall, which opened in 1999 as the largest shopping mall in Rhode Island.

413    PROVIDENCE station, 100 Gaspee Street.  Elevation approximately 13.  This station is located across the plaza from the State Capitol Building, and is a relatively new rebuilt AMTRAK station.  The station is also used by MBTA commuter trains from Boston.  Providence was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, the Puritan exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who fought for religious freedom.  Williams purchased the land from the Narragansett Indians, and chose the name in gratitude “for God’s merciful providence unto me in my distress.”  Various religious congregations were then free to build their own houses of worship here.  Williams himself established the first Baptist Church in the Colonies.  At the beginning of the American Revolution, Rhode Island was the first of the 13 colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown, on May 4, 1776.  It was also the last of the 13 colonies to ratify the United States Constitution, on May 29, 1790, once assurances were made that a Bill of Rights would become part of the Constitution.

          In the early days, Providence was a shipbuilding and shipping town, and engaged in the slave, rum, and molasses trade between Africa, the West Indies, and the Colonies.  On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island officially declared its independence from Great Britain.

         After the American Revolution, Providence was the nation’s 9th largest city.  It was incorporated as a city in 1832, and the city’s economy shifted from maritime activities to manufacturing of machinery, tools, textiles, and silverware.  By the early 1900’s, Providence was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States.  Immigrant labor powered one of the nation's largest industrial manufacturing centers.

          Providence is the home of Brown University, the “Mile of History” along Benefit Street, showcasing numerous original Colonial homes, the first Baptist Church in America, the Roger Williams National Memorial, Roger Williams Park, the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art, John Brown House and Museum, Providence Children’s Museum, and other attractions.  It was also the home of singer Nelson Eddy, NBC Announcer Don Pardo, and television personality Meredith Vieira.

                                                                                               Adjacent to the station on the right (northbound) is the Providence River.