Ocean State Journeys

Bay Parade

Water transportation


Indian dugouts, Colonial canoes and pinaces

Bay as a highway

Transports people/goods 28 miles — Providence to Pt. Judith

Newport harbor

Leading center of colonial trade and hub of the international triangular trade importing African slaves

East Indiamen

Providence opens trade with China and East India in 1787

Steamboat packets

Small commercial and passenger craft date to 1820

Fall River Line

Major passenger carrier of the steam power era

Major shipping lines

Seven lines to NYC, Maine and the South

Ferry service

Operating from colonial times to 1970, service recently re-established from Provi­dence to Newport

Turnpikes, Toll Roads and Towpaths

Early roads & canals

Native trails

Natives laid out passageways still in use today

Early roadways

Road to Pequot, Queen’s highway (1702), Ten Rod Rd

Turnpike era

1784–1842. General Assembly grants charters to 46 toll road corporations. Provi­dence is hub with 360 stage coaches per week

Blackstone Canal

Built by Irish veterans of Erie Canal. Origin of irish population.

Reign of the Train

Railroad industry

The first lines

Boston & Providence, first run in 1835 Providence & Stonington

Early lines

NY, Providence & Boston NY, New Haven & Hartford Providence & Worcester, began 1847 is revived & still running Hartford, Prov. & Fishkill Early RI lines

The hub

Providence welcomes 300 trains per day in 1900

Rail/water linkages

Link with shipping lines at India Pt.

The Cove

Heart of Providence/​urban design shaped by railroads and terminals. Providence RR lands are key to modern day renaissance.

Competing lines

Railroad that died at sea goes down with the Titanic


Regional link

Steamers and Liners


The Experiment

Pre-Fulton steamboat is built/tested in RI in 1792

Fire Fly

The Bay’s first commercial steamboat sets sail in 1817

Excursion steamers

Driven by paddlewheels to propellors, passenger vessels of the Fall River Line and others steam along for more than a century

Long distance lines

Promoting international connections

The Fabre Line

Providence becomes a locus of international immigration

Trolley Stop

Trolley transportation

Early mass transit

Transition from stage coaches to omnibuses

The earliest street cars

Horse drawn vehicles crowd the roadways


Electric trolleys begin their run on wires in 1893 and advance the opportunity of commuting

Inter-urban systems

Trolley lines extend community connections

Bus trolleys to buses

Evolution of today’s mass transit

Bridges and Byways

Automobile transportation

Paving the way

Bicycle enthusiasts (1880s) promote better roads

Autos and car companies debut

Cars appear in the 1890s and by 1913 there are 100 RI companies in the automobile business

Public passageways

State roadbuilding begins with 1902 bond issue. Speed laws by 1908.

RI roadsters

ALCO and Maxwell-Brisco manufacture cars

Left in the dust

Street cars out of business by 1920. Trucks replace branch railroads.



Flying High


Hills Grove

First “state” airport established in 1931 with regularly scheduled flights in 1936. Becomes TF Green


RI company pioneers seaplanes and aeronautical industry at close of WWI

Green Revitalized

TF Green Airport reconstructed in 90s as key asset to the tourism industry