The River Mills Heritage Trail threads its way for 1.1 miles around the Quinebaug River. The trail links six historic mills and celebrates Putnam’s roots in a river-powered economy. Like its predecessor, the popular Putnam River Trail, the River Mills Heritage Trail is an easy, level walk or bike ride affording good views of the several falls along the river. Located at Rotary Park, as well as the municipal parking lots at Union Square and Kennedy Drive, are new Directory Signs each with a full color map and description of both trails as well as Downtown and Providence Street commercial areas.
The trail overlaps two sections of the Putnam River Trail and begins on Kennedy Drive at the Monohansett Mill historical marker; free municipal parking and a public restroom are located adjacent to the mill. Each mill now has a distinctive brown historical marker describing in detail the architecture and mill uses of the property. Brown trail directional signs mark the way across the Quinebaug River to the second mill on the new trail - Cargill Falls Mill on Pomfret Street - the oldest cotton mill site in the nation (1807). The trail continues on Church Street to historical markers at the Morse Mansion and the original 1874 Putnam High School since converted to the Town Hall. Then, via Bridge Street back to the western bank of the Quinebaug River in back of the Courthouse and tennis courts for views of mills across and up the river before coming upon the third mill on the new trail - the Morse Mill. The trail continues on Providence Street to bridge views of mill dams and the fourth mill on the trail - the prominent Belding / Powhatan Mill. From the corner of Providence Street and Kennedy Drive, the new trail has a resting point at Miller Park with its own mill industry display, before returning to Kennedy Drive and the fifth and sixth mills - the close by Rhodes and Nightingale Mills. Trail goers can follow the Putnam River Trail back to parking, shops and restaurants.
The River Mills Heritage Trail was made possible through a grant from the Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor and funding from the Putnam Redevelopment Agency.