On the map of the town it is the Scituate Reservoir which dominates. Construction of the reservoir, which supplies water for the Providence metropolitan area, got underway in 1915 with the appointment by the Rhode Island General Assembly of the Water Supply Board. Up to its time, it was the largest public works project ever undertaken in the state. Construction extended from 1917 to 1926. In the process, most of Scituate's villages disappeared. Glen Rock, Elmdale, and Harrisdale in the northeast corner; Saundersville in the east; Ashland, South Scituate, and Richmond in the center of the township; Kent in the southeast corner; Ponagansett and Richmond (the former seat of the town clerk's office) in the west: all were submerged or eliminated to create a forest surround for the reservoir. Of Scituate's manufacturing past of small mills in scattered towns, only Hope remains, in the southeast corner of the town, and it really relates historically to the line of mills south of it along the Pawtuxet in the towns of Coventry and West Warwick. A folk painter of the early twentieth century has left an idyllic image of Clayville as a typical Scituate mill village—a pair of stone mills and their cluster of houses invading the fields of farmers. This village, too, was spared the flood, but its mills are gone, along with most of its farms, although many of the houses remain as a semisuburban enclave.
In Scituate's nineteenth-century balance between manufacturing and agriculture, turnpikes played a major role in getting product to market. As a tall, rectangular area due west of Providence, Scituate intercepted its share of turnpikes radiating from the city. Moreover, it was sufficiently removed from the state metropolis so that their angling as radii from a point had space enough to settle into more determinate east-west courses, and at such regular intervals that they seem almost to mark off the town into broad stripes in crossing it, before each fixes on a different nearby Connecticut destination. North to south, the pikes are Hartford, Danielson, Central (a local affair which runs into Danielson just over the Rhode Island border), and Plainfield. The reservoir has severed the western part of Central Pike from the rest. Similarly the rerouting of the western portion of Plainfield Pike relegated a disconnected stretch of this to the status of OldPlainfield. The relatively untraveled quiet of these severed western sections of Central and Old Plainfield pikes through sparsely populated areas (at least as this is written) evoke, to those receptive to it, some sense of the aura of the ancient pikes and their importance to the nineteenth-century town.
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