The waters of the Blackstone River have often overflowed its banks during Spring freshets and Summer hurricanes. Fortunately, with the residential area of Albion located on higher ground, no physical damage has occurred over the years to homes and businesses due to flooding, nor have lives been lost. On the other hand, the textile mill that relied on the river for its early existence has suffered many losses due to flooding, and so have those who worked there who had to wait at home while flood waters receded and damages were repaired.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a freshet as “a great rise or overflowing of a stream caused by heavy rains or melted snow.” Newspaper accounts reported frequent occurrences of freshets on the river in Spring time. In March of 1936, for instance, as reported by Charles E. Savoie in Lincoln, page 64, heavy rain plus an unusually rapid thaw produced a disastrous flood. Tons of water poured over the mill dam, as seen in the photo at right. The Boston Herald of March 13, 1936, reported that 500 looms in the Albion mill had to be shut down when water reached a two-foot level in the machine shop.
On September 21, 1938, a killer hurricane struck Rhode Island that caused major flooding throughout the State. The Blackstone River was no exception, with flood waters so incredibly high as to flow over the deck of the bridge that spanned the river. The flooding forced the closure of the mill for several weeks while normal operation was restored.
On August 18-19, 1955, a downgraded tropical storm Diane meandered along the southern Rhode Island coast, bringing with it significant rainfall in a short amount of time. The storm caused the Horseshoe Dam in Woonsocket to fail, forcing walls of water to flow down the Blackstone River and swelling its width drastically. Its effects were felt downstream as the Albion mill once again succumbed to major flooding. A railroad bridge in the Blackstone River basin at Albion had to be removed by the Army Corps of Engineers (Boston Herald, August 26, 1955).
On March 30, 2010, a freshet once again led to big water flowing over the old mill dam. Its effect was captured in the following video.