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The Return Home installed in its permanent home above the Woonasquatucket River.

The Return Home

The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and sculptor Gillian Christy collaborated on a sculpture celebrating the Woonasquatucket River and the return of anadromous fish to the Woonasquatucket. Anadromous fish are fish that live in the ocean and return to fresh water to spawn. This sculpture is now in place on the Bath Street Footbridge over the Woonasquatucket River in Providence. Funding for the project came from EPA Region One, The Foundry, and the RI State Council on the Arts.

On the side of the sculpture are cut the words:

Woonasquatucket River (Woon ahs kwa tuck it = where the salt water ends)

The Woonasquatucket River is one of fourteen federally designated American Heritage Rivers. From its headwaters in North Smithfield, it flows to Providence where it creates Waterplace Park, and then joins other rivers to form the upper part of Narragansett Bay.

The River played a powerful role in Rhode Island's progression from pioneer to national leader in the American Industrial Revolution. This rich industrial heritage left behind dams that prevent the passage of fish - such as herring, shad, and eel - that need to move between fresh and saltwater to spawn.

The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council's mission to reclaim this River as a natural, historic, and recreational resource includes returning these fish to the river through the restoration of fish passages.

Follow the river upstream and you may see great blue herons, painted turtles, kingfishers, red-tailed hawks and the first fish ladder at Rising Sun Mills.

Christy said the following about the project:

"[The] stainless steel sculpture depicts a school of fish teaming upstream over the Woonasquatucket, symbolizing the circle of life, the river's connection to the ocean, and the ongoing restoration of the Woonasquatucket that will provide spawning habitat for 40,000 adult herring."

More photographs of the project as well as more information about the project and the artist are available on Gillian Christy's website.

Gillian Christy working on The Return Home in her studio.

A detail view of the fish elements in The Return Home.

The Return Home installed in its final location on the footbridge over the river near Dean Street in Providence.

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