Pawcatuck River
Westerly Pawcatuck River.JPG
The Pawcatuck River as it flows between Westerly, Rhode Island and Pawcatuck, Connecticut
Pawcatuck River watershed
CountryUnited States
StateConnecticut / Rhode Island
CountyNew London County, Connecticut Washington County, Rhode Island
Physical characteristics
SourceWorden Pond
 • locationSouth Kingstown, Rhode Island
 • coordinates41°26′32″N 71°35′27″W / 41.4423°N 71.5909°W / 41.4423; -71.5909
MouthLittle Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound
 • location
Pawcatuck, Connecticut / Westerly, Rhode Island
 • coordinates
41°19′N 71°52′W / 41.32°N 71.86°W / 41.32; -71.86Coordinates: 41°19′N 71°52′W / 41.32°N 71.86°W / 41.32; -71.86
DesignatedMarch 12, 2019[1]
The Pawcatuck River, looking north, with Westerly, RI buildings in view, and Pawcatuck, CT just off to left
The Pawcatuck River, looking north, with Westerly, RI buildings in view, and Pawcatuck, CT just off to left

The Pawcatuck River is a river in the US states of Rhode Island and Connecticut flowing approximately 34 miles (55 km).[2] There are eight dams along the river's length.[3] USS Pawcatuck was named after the river.


The river was specified as the western boundary of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in the original charter of 1636. It was formerly called the Charles River between its source and the mouth of the Wood River near Bradford, Rhode Island.

On April 20, 2006, an Atlantic white-sided dolphin swam several miles up the river to Westerly, Rhode Island from Little Narragansett Bay at the east end of Fishers Island Sound. It spent several hours at Westerly-Pawcatuck, near the bridge connecting Rhode Island and Connecticut, while several hundred spectators gathered to see it. According to the Mystic Aquarium, the dolphin may have become separated from its pod at sea and had been searching for it. It was captured and taken later that night to the aquarium, where it died; it had become sick, underweight, and bruised during its journey upriver.[4]

The Pawcatuck River flooded during a fierce rainstorm in New England on March 29, 2010, with waters overflowing into both Westerly and Pawcatuck. Both towns evacuated low-lying areas, and some historic buildings were lost to flood damage along the course of the river, and it's tributaries such as a 150-year-old general store in North Stonington adjacent to the Shunock River.[5] The bridge in downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck was closed for several weeks until the river had gone down enough for divers to inspect it for safety.[5]


The Pawcatuck River's source is Worden Pond in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. It proceeds generally west and southwest through the villages of Kenyon, Carolina, and Bradford, Rhode Island. It serves as the border between the towns of Charlestown and Richmond, Rhode Island, Charlestown and Hopkinton, Rhode Island, and Hopkinton and Westerly. It turns briefly northwest and west before resuming a southward course to flow past Potter Hill, Rhode Island and between the towns of Westerly, Rhode Island and the Pawcatuck section of Stonington, Connecticut; its mouth is on Little Narragansett Bay on Long Island Sound (41°19′N 71°52′W / 41.32°N 71.86°W / 41.32; -71.86).


Below is a list of all crossings over the Pawcatuck River. The list starts at the headwaters and goes downstream.


In addition to many unnamed tributaries, the following brooks and rivers feed the Pawcatuck:

See also


  1. ^ "Explore Designated Rivers". Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
  3. ^ Governor's Task Force on Dam Safety and Maintenance – Final Report, January 2001
  4. ^ [1], News Blog, 4 June 2006 Archived January 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Ben Sosenko/John Mongeau, "Pawcatuck River-Stonington flood", NBC Connecticut, 1 April 2010, accessed 8 April 2012