Middlesex Canal Association
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The Middlesex Canal
From Route 3 North or South:
From Route 495 North or South:
Directions by train:
The President of the Middlesex Canal Association is J. Jeremiah Breen.The Vice President of the Middlesex Canal Association is Traci Jansen.
For information about publications available through the Middlesex Canal Association, contact Betty Bigwood.
For information on membership in the Middlesex Canal Association, contact Neil Devins.
For information about the Middlesex Canal Commission and its efforts to preserve and restore what remains of the Middlesex Canal, contact Tom Raphael.
For information about upcoming walks and tours of the Middlesex Canal, contact Roger Hagopian.
Send comments, suggestions, photos, and any other interesting information about the Middlesex Canal to webmaster Robert Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: E-mail sent to several of the above addresses will be forwarded by the webmaster to the appropriate person after being screened for SPAM and viruses.
National Canal Museum
Calendar of Middlesex Canal Association Events and Related Events
The Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitors’ Center is open every Saturday and Sunday, noon-4, except holidays. [Facebook Page]
First Wednesday - MCA Board of Directors' Meetings - The Board meets the first Wednesday of every month (except July and August), at the Museum, from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Members and the public are invited to attend.
Sunday, March 5, 2017, 1pm – MCA Winter Meeting (postponed from Feb 12)
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 10:44am – Bicycle Tour South
Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 – Museum Closed
Sunday, April 23, 2017, 1:30pm – MCA-AMC Annual Spring Walk
Sunday, April 30, 2017, 1pm – MCA Spring Meeting
Sunday, October 1, 2017, 9am – 15th Bicycle Tour North
Sunday, October 15, 2017, 1:30am – Annual MCA-AMC Fall Walk
Sunday, October 22, 2017, 1pm – MCA Fall Meeting
Sunday, October 30, 2016, 1:00pm – MCA Fall Meeting (Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitors’ Center, 71 Faulkner Street, North Billerica)
MIDDLESEX CANAL FALL TALK
On Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 1:00pm, Bill Gerber will describe the "Landings" that were part of the canal and river interstate waterway between Boston Harbor and Concord NH before the steam locomotive transformed transportation.
In the first half of the 19th century a 120+ mile system of canals and navigable waterways provided ‘heavy lift’ transportation services through the Merrimack Valley and the area north of Boston. Over its lifetime, among the myriad of items that were shipped, this system transported countless logs and timber products for construction, heating, shipbuilding and export; granite and brick building materials, gunpowder and chemicals, and boatloads of cotton bales and textiles in support of the growing New England textile industry. Interspersed throughout much of this system were more than three dozen “Landings”, which provided shipping and receiving services for those who had goods to transport. It is these latter portals that are the subject of Bill's talk.
The talk will be in the Reardon Room of the canal visitor center/museum at the Billerica Falls of the Concord River, 71 Faulkner St, Billerica 01862. The visitor center opens at noon.
At 11:30am, all are welcome to join proprietors of the Middlesex Canal on the porch of the visitor center for a walk to the beaver lodge recently built on the Thoreau Towpath, a round trip of less than two miles. A car could park at the Middlesex Canal sign at 100 Brick Kiln Road, Billerica 01862, approximately 1200' from the beavers. Henry Thoreau traveled on this part of the canal September 1, 1839, and wrote as follows:
"in the lapse of ages, Nature will recover and indemnify herself, and gradually plant fit shrubs and flowers along its borders. Already the kingfisher sat upon a pine over the water, and the bream and pickerel swam below. Thus all works pass directly out of the hands of the architect into the hands of Nature,
The walk is an opportunity to experience Thoreau's prediction after a lapse of 177 years.
Directions. Rte. 3 to exit 28, Treble Cove Road, then follow the Middlesex Canal signs. After crossing the Billerica Falls bridge over the Concord River, the parking lot is 100' on the right. Treble Cove Road, exit 28, is 7 miles north of Rte. 128 (I-95).
On I-495, take the N. Billerica exit south to the road's end at a T intersection, turn right, then bear right at the Y, go 700' and turn left into the parking lot. The visitor center is across the street. North Billerica, exit 37, is between Rte. 3 and I-93. By train, take the Lowell line to N. Billerica Station and walk west two blocks.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 7:00pm – Special Event
Sunday, October 16, 2016, 1:30pm – MCA Fall Walk (Winchester-Medford)
In November of 2000, David Dettinger presented his paper entitled "The Canal that Bisected Boston". This was one of 10 events which correlated with the anniversary of the ten years it took to build the Middlesex Canal. The following year, Middlesex Canal Association Directors David Dettinger, Tom Raphael and Betty Bigwood requested that there be some recognition of the Middlesex Canal in the Rose Kennedy Greenway. In response, Dick Garver of the Boston Redevelopment Authority agreed to allow for a space on Canal Street to make some historic interpretation. Fifteen years later and after many more meetings and correspondence, a mural by Thomas H. Dahill titled "The Canal that Bisected Boston" will be officially recognized. You are invited. Please RSVP by July 8th to email@example.com if you plan to come. Parking is not easy so allow enough time. If there are any questions please contact Betty M. Bigwood (978-657-7870).
Join state and city officials, business leaders, Aimco representatives and project partners for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of One Canal Apartment Homes.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Charlie Baker, Governor
City of Boston – Martin J. Walsh, Mayor
Massachusetts Department of Transportation – Stephanie Pollack, Secretary
Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority – Frank Depaola, General Manager
City of Boston – William Christopher, ISD Commissioner
Boston Redevelopment Authority – Brian P. Golden, Director
March 5, 2016 – Bill Gerber will give a talk on "Landings of the Canal and River Navigation System North of Boston" at the Society for Industrial Archaeology Symposium to be held at Plymouth State University.
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 1:00pm – Winter Meeting (Speaker: Tom Dahill, “Summit Pond, Middlesex Canal, Circa 1822”)
At 1:00pm the Middlesex Canal Association will hold a public meeting at the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitors’ Center, 71 Faulkner Street, North Billerica, MA. The featured speaker will be noted artist, author, and educator, Tom Dahill, Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at Emerson College. The topic of his talk will be the two watercolors of the Middlesex Canal Summit Pond (circa 1822) in North Billerica. Both were assumed to be painted by Jabez Barton during his courtship of Rebecca Farmer Rogers, daughter of William and Hannah (Farmer) Rogers. A View from William Rogers House (Billerica Historical Society) provides a priceless early image of the floating towpath and the North Billerica Mill Village. The William Rogers House (New York Historical Society) portrays the scene from a point on or near the causeway at the east end of the summit pond. The William Rogers House was built about 1807 reportedly partly from funds earned by William in service of the Canal Proprietors, and stands today on Rogers Street.
For those planning to attend Professor Dahill’s Feb 14, 2016 lecture on the Barton watercolors, additional background information can be found in the following two publications:
Seaburg, Carl; Seaburg, Alan; & Dahill, Thomas. The Incredible Ditch: A Bicentennial History of the Middlesex Canal. The Anne Miniver Press for the Medford Historical Society, 1997.
Seaburg, Alan. Life on the Middlesex Canal. The Anne Miniver Press History of American Transportation Publications, 2009.
Sunday, Oct 25, 2015. Middlesex Canal Association Fall Meeting
At 1:00pm the Middlesex Canal Association will hold a public meeting at the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitors’ Center, 71 Faulkner Street, North Billerica, MA. The featured speaker will James Baldwin, the great-great-great-great-great grandson of Loammi Baldwin, the engineer who supervised the construction of the Middlesex Canal. Mr. Baldwin will make reference to items that have been passed down through the generations of Baldwins. One of these will be George Washington’s invitation to Col. Loammi Baldwin to visit him at what would become the Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site. Interestingly, the regiment Col. Baldwin commanded at the crossing of the Delaware River and the Battle of Trenton was known as the George Washington regiment.
At the beginning of the meeting the report of the Nominating Committee will be read and the election of officers and directors will take place.
For those planning to attend the James Baldwin’s October 25, 2015 lecture on the Baldwin Family, additional background information can be found in the following issues of Towpath Topics:
MCA Fall Walk: Sunday, October 18, 2015
The Appalachian Mountain Club and the MCA will host a walk along a 0.8 mile section of the Canal situated within a 14 acre tract in Wilmington. In 1983 this parcel was gifted by Stanley Weber and his daughter, Julia Ann Fielding, to the MCA. Although the fall foliage, the fresh air, and the camaraderie should be suffi cient to encourage participation, as an added treat, Mike McInnis (from the Middlesex Canal Commission) and his wife, Diane, will serve lemonade and cookies for the walkers at the Patches Pond turnaround. Those planning to attend should meet at the Wilmington Town Park, opposite 760 Main Street, Wilmington, MA (Route #38) at 1:30pm.
Saturday, October 17, 2015. 13th Bike Tour North, starting at 9am, Sullivan Square, Charlestown
We will meet at 9:00am at the Middlesex Canal plaque, Sullivan Square MBTA Station (1 Cambridge Street, Charlestown, MA 02129) and follow the canal route 38 miles to Lowell. [This is a postponement because of rain from the original date of October 3rd.] There will be a stop for a snack at Kiwanis Park across from Baldwin Mansion (2 Alfred Street, Woburn, MA 01801 ~12:30pm), stop for visit at the Canal Museum (71 Faulkner Street, North Billerica, MA 01862 ~3pm), and arrive in Lowell in time for the 5:00pm train back to Boston. Google “canal ride cue sheet”. Riders can choose their own time to join or leave the group by using the Lowell Line which parallels the Canal. (For example, an abbreviated ride can be done by parking at the Sichuan Garden, just off Route 128 at Route 38, cycling with the group to the museum and returning by train to Anderson/Woburn at 3:19pm, three miles from the Sichuan Garden.)
The ride will be an easy one for most cyclists. The route is pretty flat, and we will average 5 miles per hour. Along the way we will stop at several canal remnants and restored sections. Steady rain cancels. Helmets required. For more information: www.middlesexcanal.org.
Sun, May 3, 2015. Rare Unscheduled Walk on Towpath of Undeveloped, Watered One-Mile of Middlesex Canal. Prior to a Middlesex Canal meeting Sunday a walk on the towpath at the Shaffer Landfill to follow-up on the Feb 8 talk by Don McElroy, EPA's remedial project manager will be available. Mr. McElroy said two lawyers, EPA's attorney and the attorney for the group paying for the 40-year operation and maintenance of EPA's landfill remedy, favor an easement by the owner of the landfill to benefit the Middlesex Canal. The walk to see what the easement might be like will start at the visitor center/museum (71 Faulkner St., No. Billerica MA), 11:00am, Sunday, May 3, with a return in time for the 1:00pm public meeting of the association. The walkers will carpool to the 200-year-old canal and see how little nature has reclaimed of it. More information, www.middlesexcanal.org. L Marlies Henderson.
Sun, May 3, 2015. Middlesex Canal Association Annual Meeting in the museum, beginning at 1:00pm. Our speaker, Marcis Kempe, has as his topic, "Boston's Water Supply and the Middlesex Canal", based on Caleb Eddy's Historical Sketch of the Middlesex Canal, 1843, which can be read at http://tinyurl.com/eddy1843. Refreshments will be served following. [Flyer for Meeting]
Sun, April 26, 2015. Joint MCA-AMC Spring Middlesex Canal Walk.
If you're free before the Middlesex Canal Spring Walk......
Sun, Apr 12, 2015: Middlesex Canal Association’s Spring bicycle tour. Meet 9:30am at North Station (commuter rail) and take our bicycles on the 10am train to Lowell. Riders meeting the group at Lowell meet at the train station at 10:40am. This year an early group will take the 8:00am train from North Station to allow more time in Lowell and breakfast at the historic Owl Diner (www.owldiner.com, aka the Four Sisters).
Route visits the Pawtucket and other Lowell canals, the river walk, Francis Gate, and Middlesex Canal remnants in Chelmsford. Lunch at Route 3A mini-mall in Billerica. Quick visit to Canal Museum, then on to Boston. A long day of exploration (35 miles end-to-end) but sunset is late.
Riders can board northbound trains at other stations or catch southbound trains at 1:07pm or 3:14pm to return to Boston early. Complete Lowell line schedules can be downloaded at http://www.keoliscs.com. Participants responsible for one-way train fare [$9.25 from Boston to Lowell]. For changes or updates, see http://middlesexcanal.org. Leaders Bill Kuttner (617-241-9383) & Dick Bauer (857-540-6293).
Attorney Arthur L. Eno, Jr. 1924 - 2014
FUTURE MIDDLESEX CANAL MUSEUM
2 Old Elm Street
Donation levels of $10,000 or more earns a Platinum Status, $5,000 or more earns a Gold Status, $2,500 or more earns a Silver Status, and $500 or more earns a Bronze Status. Contributing businesses will be featured on a permanent display in the museum, on our web site and in our literature. This will qualify for 501 (c) (3) tax status.
Name, Address and phone number of donor: [Click here for mailable form]
Please endorse checks to:
Standing Room Only: President J. Jeremiah Breen officiated
over the 2014 Winter Meeting of the Middlesex Canal Association.
Pat Henry spoke of Billerica's Utopia - a planned residential area
near our current museum. It was well attended.
In photo are Josiah Rich,MD,MPH (husband). Pat Henry (speaker) and J. Breen.
Remains of the Shawsheen Aqueduct, N. Billerica - October 2013
(Photo by Cathy Norton)
The Spring Walk on Sunday, May 5, 2013 drew a crowd of more than 50 people.
At the Maple Meadow Brook, participants crossed the "Bigwood Bridge" built for the day.
Why is Dick Bauer smiling? Because 34 people joined him on
the Spring Bike Ride along the Canal route (Apr 7, 2013).
Traci, Debbie, and Bill are deep in thought writing up the
messages for QR codes to be attached to each exhibit.
Who says we aren't keeping up with the latest?
November 4, 2012 - The Middlesex Canal Association celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a van tour of the canal, "the greatest work of the kind that has been completed in the United States." So wrote Albert Gallatin in 1808. The tour included a dinner in the Baldwin Mansion, home of the canal builder, and birthday cake at the canal museum.
Fall Walk, Oct 21, 2012 - Pictures by Russ Silva
OneWorld Boston, a Cummings Foundation affiliate, has awarded the Middlesex Canal Commission a $100,000 grant to support construction of walking and bike paths along the Middlesex Canal in Woburn from Alfred Street to School Street. [Middlesex Canal Commission]
Heritage Corridor Map Book (4.6MB, 41 page PDF)
The MCA-AMC Fall Walk took place on Sunday, October 17, 2010 along a scenic section of the Middlesex Canal from the Wilmington Town Park to Patch's Pond. Photos from the 2010 Fall Walk
Middlesex Canal Prism
Southern terminus of the Middlesex Canal (Sullivan Square, Charlestown)
[Canal Street is now Rutherford Street]
1794. - Chap. 0067
[January Session, ch. 43]
AN ACT IN ADDITION TO AN ACT ENTITLED "AN ACT FOR INCORPORATING JAMES SULLIVAN & OTHERS BY THE NAME & STILE OF THE PROPRIETORS OF THE MIDDLESEX CANAL."
Be it enacted by the Senate & House of Representatives in General Court assembled & by the authority of the same, That the property of the said Proprietors in the said Canal, & in any other Canal connected therewith, which they shall effect, pursuant to any authority of the Government, & all real estate of which the said Corporation shall be seized shall be divided into eight hundred shares & that each share therein shall give the person holding the same one vote in the proceedings of the said corporation, provided that no one proprietor shall have a right to more than twenty five votes on any occasion; And that the shares in the same Canal, including the towing paths & wharves thereon, shall be so far considered as personal estate, that the same may be transferred according to such rules & regulations as the said Corporation shall establish; And that the proprietors shall be subjected to taxes therefor in the towns & parishes where they shall severally reside as for personal estate.
And be it further enacted, that the said Corporation shall have power to receive & hold real estate as appendant to the same Canal & for the purpose of facilitating the business of the same, to the value of thirty thousand pounds, over & above the value of the Canal itself simply considered; And that the Corporation shall be liable to pay taxes therefor in the Town & Parish where the same may be; And such taxes may be assessed on the corporation or on its tenants at the discretion of the Town where the tax shall be made.
And whereas the said Corporation hath petitioned the Legislature for an extension of their powers for the purpose of making other Canals to be connected, & to communicate with the said Middlesex Canal: The object of which petition being to render the waters of Concord River boatable as far up as the same can be usefully improved for that purpose & to improve the banks of Medford river, so as to render the Canal more easy & useful, as well as to open a Canal round the shallows in the town of Dunstable on the banks of Merrimack river; And also to extend said Canal to the waters of Charles River or the town of Boston.
Be it therefore farther enacted that the said proprietors of the Middlesex Canal shall be empowered to render the waters of Concord river boatable as far as Sudbury Causeway & as much farther as the same can be usefully improved for that end; & to open any Canal at any place in the said County of Middlesex that may be necessary to connect the said Concord river with the said Middlesex Canal for that purpose, and also to extend said Canal from Medford to the waters of the town of Boston or Charles river in such way as to said proprietors may seem most advantageous & with all the privileges, & under the same restrictions & regulations as are granted & provided in said Act; And that the said proprietors shall be liable to have damages recovered against them by any individual who shall be injured or damnified in his property in such new Canal by the same mode of process, & in the same manner as is in the same act provided: And that for the use of any such new Canal or boatable waters the said proprietors may receive the same rate of toll which is by the same act established for the said Middlesex Canal.
"Whereas it is provided in an Act entitled an Act for incorporating James Sullivan & others by the name & stile of the proprietors of the Middlesex Canal "That no part of the waters of Shawshine river shall be diverted from their natural course for the purpose aforesaid" It is hereby declared to be the true intent & meaning of the foregoing restrictive clause that the ponds & those streams which continue a visible current thro' the year & usually empty into Shawshine River are to be considered as part of the waters of the said River.
Approved February 28, 1795.
For some historical perspective, try this:
From the April 2005 issue of Towpath Topics:
From the archives:
A COMPARISON OF THE BLACKSTONE AND MIDDLESEX CANALS
AN EXACTING STUDY OF THE COMPLEXITIES, OBSTACLES,
The Middlesex Canal Association Annual Meeting on May 4, 2003 featured guest speaker J.R. Greene, historian and author of many books on the history of the Quabbin Reservoir and the towns that were eradicated to create the reservoir. If you are interested in the books of J.R. Greene, a listing and contact information is provided here: [Books by J.R. Greene]
"To step down from some busy thoroughfare onto the quiet towpath of a canal....is to step backward a hundred years or more and to see things in a different, and perhaps more balanced perspective." Tom Rolt, British author
Middlesex Canal Corporation Records
The first issue of the Middlesex Canal Association newsletter was published in October 1963. Originally named "Canal News", the
first issue featured a contest to name the newsletter. A year later, the newsletter was renamed "Towpath Topics".
BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF
June 23, 2002
On June 22-23, 2002, six members of the Middlesex Canal Association made the 115-mile journey to Baldwin, Maine to join the festivities as they celebrated their 200th anniversary. Baldwin is just west of Sebago Lake. There was a parade, historical exhibit, barbecue, and block dance on Saturday. On Sunday, a formal program of speeches by prominent community members was followed by the release of green and white balloons, an ice cream social and birthday cake. It was a lot of fun.
Few people realize that Loammi Baldwin and Josiah Pierce (Count Rumford's half brother) formed a business partnership in what was then northern Massachusetts. Josiah ran the logging business for Loammi and later became its owner. This tract of land was named Baldwin after Loammi.
Loammi Baldwin constructed a home there similar to the Baldwin Mansion in North Woburn. The current Josiah Pierce, a direct descendant, gave us a most gracious tour of the beautiful estate that they still operate as a farm. Count Rumford's mother, Ruth Thompson Pierce, is buried there in the family burial ground.
- Betty Bigwood
The advertisement at left appeared as a two inch by two inch advertisement on the fourth and last page of the AMERICAN TRAVELLER, Boston MA, Tuesday morning, June 8, 1830, Vol. 5, No. 8. (Donated to the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitor Center by John Ciriello)