The Mystery Surrounding Charles Lindbergh’s Letter To Woonsocket, R.I.

The Mystery Surrounding Charles Lindbergh’s

Letter To Woonsocket, Rhode Island


Charles Lindbergh flying over Woonsocket, R.I. – June 1927.
Photo courtesy of The Woonsocket Historical Society.

     The following is a little known story about Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, famous for being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in May of 1927.  

     On July 22, 1927, shortly after his historic trans-Atlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh landed in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in his Spirit of St. Louis, as part of a nation-wide good-will tour.  From there he traveled to Providence via motorcade escorted by the Rhode Island State Police along a route lined with thousands of adoring fans. 

     In Providence, Lindbergh gave a speech on the steps of City Hall, and was presented with a medal by Mayor Joseph H. Gainer.    

     After Providence, Lindberg’s next stop was Boston, and upon leaving the state, he’d arranged to circle the City of Woonsocket, and drop a personal note of goodwill from his airplane. The specific wording of the message is unknown, but the note was retrieved, placed in a frame, and put on display at Woonsocket’s Harris Institute Library then located in Woonsocket City Hall on Main Street.  There it remained until the night of November 16, 1927, when it was stolen from its frame during a break-in at the library. 

     It was believed that the crime was committed by the same person or persons responsible for other recent burglaries throughout the city.  Chief Inspector Joseph H. Jalbert, Captain John F. Crowley, and Sergeants John T. Whalen and Omer Daigle worked on the case, and in a few days arrested a 17-year-old youth who confessed to the crimes.  The youth led them to the basement of a friends home on Front Street, and showed them a concealed hiding place under the floor of the washroom where he’d hidden the letter and other items from other burglaries that he’d taken. 

     Although the Lindbergh letter was dampened from being in its hiding place, it was in otherwise good condition, and was returned to the Harris Institute Library.  However, in 1974, the library re-located from City Hall to its present location on Clinton Street.  It was during this move, according to one library employee, that the note disappeared, and its present whereabouts is unknown.    

     A possible reason as to why a special message was dropped over Woonsocket, and not any other Rhode Island municipality, might be due to the fact that Governor, Aram J. Pothier, then governor of the state, resided in Woonsocket.


     Woonsocket Call, “Col. Lindbergh Will Fly Over This City”, July 21, 1927, page 1

     Woonsocket Call, “Lindbergh Thanked For Favoring City With Aerial Visit”, July 23, 1927, page 2.  

     Woonsocket Call, “Lindbergh Message Stolen From Frame At Harris Library”, November 17, 1927, page 1.  

     Woonsocket Call, “Youth Is Bound Over To Grand Jury For Series Of Breaks”, November 25, 1927, page 1.




Woonsocket, R.I. Air Mail – 1953

Woonsocket, Rhode Island, First Airmail Flight – October 1, 1953


Woonsocket Airport – R.I.

Woonsocket Airport – Rhode Island

     1920s-plane-in-cloudsThere doesn’t seem to be a lot of documentation about the former Woonsocket Airport that was once located on the north side of Diamond Hill Road in the northern part of the City of Woonsocket.   Today a large shopping plaza occupies the land where the airport once stood.

     Based on a sole article found in the Woonsocket Call, it is surmised that construction of the airport was begun in 1929, or early 1930. 

     The airport was reportedly sponsored by the Woonsocket Chamber of Commerce, and was still under ongoing development as of April of 1930.  The airport was operated by the newly formed Woonsocket Airways, the city’s first aviation company, which owned at least one airplane.  As of the end of April plans were underway to build a hangar large enough to house two or three airplanes.

     The Superintendent of Operations for Woonsocket Airways was George H. Mitchell, who was supervising the ongoing improvements at the airfield.

     The land occupied by the airport was owned by William L. Whipple, 77, a farmer who owned several hundred acres of land in north-eastern Woonsocket.  Mr. Whipple had been an aviation enthusiast for many years, and on April 27, 1930, went to the airport and took his first airplane ride.  When it was over he remarked, “That’s something to talk about when I get old.”


     Woonsocket Call, “77-Year-Old Man Enjoys Plane Ride”, April 28, 1930

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