Charlestown, RI

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Narragansett Indians inhabited the region now known as Charlestown. They lived off the land, hunting, fishing, and raising crops.

When the first European settlers arrived in the mid-17th century, plantations were quickly established to exploit the fertile coastal lands. On August 22, 1738, a portion of Westerly was divided and named Charlestown after King Charles II. Today’s town boundaries were finally established in 1748 when the town of Richmond was divided at the Pawcatuck River.

In the early 19th century, residents of Charlestown began harnessing the Pawcatuck River to power textile mills. As the industry grew, so did the surrounding area. Other mills sprang up along the river, including saw, cotton, and wool mills. Over the years most of the mills have been converted into offices, but Kenyon Mills continues to produce textiles and serves as a symbol of the town’s history.