Atlanta resident Michele Mindlin and North Kingstown’s Susan Gordon visited the Old Slater Mill National Historic Landmark District on a warm October day. The former college roommates chose the Pawtucket, R.I., site in part because Mindlin makes a habit of visiting museums and historic sites across the world. And Gordon had visited the Old Slater Mill site before.

As reported by Providence Business News, both were surprised to learn that since 2014 the site has been part of a still loosely defined national park.

“Really?” questioned Gordon, who carries a National Park Service passport in her wallet. “And I’ve been here in the past two years.”

Outside of some NPS passports, a travelogue with pages to record visits to national parks, a coloring book and travel tote tucked away in the gift shop, visitors will find little evidence of the national park designation at the historic textile mill complex on the banks of the Blackstone River.

Approved by Congress Dec. 12, 2014, under the National Defense Authorization Act, the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park includes five historic sites and districts that are within a 400,000-acre national heritage corridor that links 24 communities along the Blackstone River from Providence to Worcester, Mass.

It was touted by national and local advocates, including Robert D. Billington, president of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, as having the potential to be a significant economic driver for the region and state.

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