Slate Rock Park is named after the ledge where Roger Williams and a handful of his followers are said to have first stepped ashore in the spring of 1636 after crossing from their original settlement on Omega Pond across the Seekonk River.
[From Quohog.org] Having been notified that the land already belonged to Plymouth Colony. While Williams was on friendly terms with the governor of Plymouth, he was a wanted man in the powerful Massachusetts Bay Colony. Knowing that Massachusetts’s reach extended well into Plymouth, Williams had no choice but to leave immediately. So Williams and his friends packed themselves and all they could carry into a single canoe and took off, regretfully leaving their newly planted fields behind.
When they arrived on the west side of the river, they had the good fortune to be met at Slate Rock by a number of friendly Narragansett Indians, one of whom greeted them with the phrase “What cheer, netop?”—essentially, “What’s up, bud?” in a mixture of old English and Narragansett. Williams stepped from the canoe to the Rock, where he explained his predicament and asked the Indians if they knew of a place where he and his company could settle. The Indians directed the group to continue down the river, around the point to the west, and up another small river to a cove. There, they were told, they would find a suitable spot to live. Williams gratefully took the advice. In the fullness of time, the little settlement he established by the cove became the city of Providence.
(Above, the rock is pictured in a drawing and in an early postcard) This is a very nice little story, one that is only slightly diminished by the fact it’s probably not entirely true. Scanty historical evidence suggests Williams had only one companion with him that day, a young man named Thomas Angell who was something between a servant and adopted son. What’s more, it’s likely Williams never set foot on Slate Rock, but that he held his conversation with the Indians by means of hand gestures and shouted phrases from out on the river. The conversation could, in fact, have taken place anywhere along the river south of Rumford. If so, the original landing place of Roger Williams would actually be near the spring at the present-day Roger Williams National Memorial.