Brian here. Coming from Vermont, this whole “Rhode Island Villages thing” has always perplexed me. The town of Richmond (according to Wikipedia) “contains the villages of Alton, Arcadia, Barberville, Carolina, Hillsdale, Kenyon, Shannock, Tug Hollow, Usquepaug, Wood River Junction, Woodville, and Wyoming”. Every place in Rhode Island seems to have at least 2 or 3 different names, and I can never tell where it’s referring to. Someone can live in the village of Wyoming, the town Richmond, and be in the Chariho school district. Wow! What this all doesn’t tell you is that Richmond, and the neighboring town of Charlestown, have some very nice hikes and historical areas.
We started our day pausing at the Wyoming Dam, with a beautiful waterfall and a pond. Tarynn loves to find the fish and frogs in any pond we visit, and she was not disappointed here. There were tons of fish and frogs, and she even spotted a crayfish!! We followed this with a short hike along to see the waterfall at the Barberville Dam.
We then drove through the historic parts of Wyoming Village, the village of Carolina, and the Shannock Historic District looking at old houses, mills, and churches. There’s the octagonal Albert Potter House built in 1867, the Free Baptist Church built in 1845, and others. The Shannock Historic District is an old historic mill village with interesting old construction. There is even a “horseshoe” waterfall with a fish ladder, although we didn’t see any fish on it. Tarynn found another crayfish here and we also found a well hidden geocache.
Moving on to Charleston, we found a historic Native American Burial Ground tucked away in the woods. This is believed to be the cemetery for the leaders of the Narragansett and Niantic tribes. It was somewhat overgrown, but prominent headstones were clearly seen. The path up to the burial ground had lots of wild blueberry bushes which Tarynn grazed on all the way back to the car.
One of the most interesting places we visited on our trip to Charlestown was the “Fantastic Umbrella Factory”. It’s a self-described “nineteenth-century farmyard shopper’s paradise and international bazaar” and this description encompasses the umbrella factory nicely . It’s an old converted dairy farm that is now used to house local craftspeople. There are gardens of flowers and of bamboo, as well as a number of animals. Much to Tarynn’s delight -- the lover of all animals -- there were chickens and guinea hens wandering around, a couple of emu, and even a cute little toad in a birdhouse. Tarynn was in her element exploring the grounds of the umbrella factory,and she was very excited when we gave her $2.00 to pick out something in one of the shops. She spent a lot of time choosing the perfect purple and white sea urchin shell, which I’m sure she’ll treasure for years to come.
We rounded out the day on the beach at the Charlestown Breachway. This was a new beach to us, and it is beautiful. The waves were big and yet not overwhelming, and it was pretty uncrowded. This is one of the most scenic beaches we’ve visited in this part of the state, and although we’ve heard that the parking lot fills up quickly in the morning, we had no trouble getting in at 3:00 in the afternoon.
We finished up our visit with a quick stop at the Historic Bell Schoolhouse (where we left a rock) and a longer stop at the Charlestown Rathskeller for a casual socially-distanced outdoor dinner of appetizers & drinks to wind down the day. The Rathskeller had such an enjoyable environment - lots of families were happily eating and laughing, and if it was a regular year, we imagine that people would have been using the bocce courts, cornhole games, and would be playing horseshoes as well. We had visited the Rathskeller in the winter and had enjoyed it, but this is definitely a great place to be on a summer evening and was the perfect place to end our visits to Charlestown and Richmond.
Other places we've enjoyed in Charlestown and Richmond:
We are a family who loves to travel and explore. Covid-19 has changed our plans for summer 2020, but we are making the best out of the situation by exploring our beautiful home state of Rhode Island. During the summer of 2020, we are hoping to visit every town in Rhode Island. Thank you for joining us on our journey!