ZAP the Blackstone

2:00 p.m. August 14, 2022

Northgate, Blackstone Valley Historical Society (Upstairs)

Speaker: Raymond Kelley, Zap the Blackstone.

Fifty years ago, on September 9, 1972, 10,000 people spent a day cleaning up the Blackstone River, removing tons of trash, appliances, cars and even a school bus from its banks. It was called “Operation ZAP.” By 1972, the Blackstone, which had powered over 100 mills along its length from Worcester to Pawtucket Falls, was one of the most polluted rivers in America. The volunteer effort that day started the revival of the Blackstone River.

Raymond Kelley, whose grandfather was a leader in the original “Operation ZAP” effort, is coming to BVHS on August 14 to help kick off “ZAP 50,” the 50-year anniversary cleanup, with a talk about the original ZAP in 1972. Using images, a video and memories from “ZAPsters” recounting their experiences, he will show how so many helped save the Blackstone. If anyone would like to share their memories of that day, Kelley would love to hear them, either at this talk, or on the ZAP the Blackstone website. There are still many challenges facing the Blackstone, and we hope that many will volunteer for ZAP 50.

ZAP 50 will take place from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on August 27. Kelley hopes that it will be as big as the original ZAP in 1972. A valley-wide watershed cleanup is planned for that day, with cleanups, green-ups, and improvement projects across the entire Blackstone Valley. There is a project list on the website, with projects rated from easier to harder.  For more information, visit the Zap the Blackstone website.

Come to the talk on August 14 and hear about ZAP, one of the largest environmental cleanup events in the country and an important day in Blackstone Valley history.