Middlesex Canal Association    P.O. Box 333    Billerica, Massachusetts 01821
Volume 14, No. 2    April, 1976


in conjunction with the Canal Society of New York and the Pennsylvania Canal Society.

Headquarters: Ramada Inn, Routes 128 & 38, Woburn, Massachusetts.


Friday, April 23, 1976

After 7:00 P.M.: Registration at the Ramada Inn

Informal get-together, featuring continuous slide shows, movies of the Soo Locks. Refreshments. Sponsored by the Woburn Canal Society.

Saturday, April 24, 1976

Registration at the Ramada Inn

In the forenoon: The newly constructed Middlesex Canal packetboat will be on display near the Ramada Inn.

Opportunity for individual walking tours of the Canal in North Woburn. Information and maps will be available.

1:00 P.M. Board buses at Ramada Inn for Canal tour:

Dedication of the new Middlesex Canal State Highway Park in Wilmington; Shawsheen Aqueduct; Concord River floating towpath site, North Billerica; Chelmsford Toll house and Old School house (Refreshments & Rest Rooms); Hadley Homestead in Middlesex Village, Lowell; Ox Bow, Wilmington; Loammi Baldwin Mansion and adjoining historic park.

5:30 P.M. Return to Ramada Inn for Social Hour

7:00 P.M. Buffet Dinner at Towanda Club, Woburn. (Shuttle bus from Ramada Inn includes in registration)


Nolan T. Jones: "Middlesex Canal in all seasons, from the air and from the ground."

Mary Stetson Clarke: Historic canal slides - and a talk on the construction of canal barges

Sunday, April 25, 1976

10:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M. Visit to Taylor's Up-and-Down Saw Mill at Ballard Pond. Island Pond Road, 2 miles south of Derry Village, New Hampshire (map supplied)

(from the Woburn Journal for August 18, 1855)

At the period spoken of the canal was in its prime, and the lady in question had frequently made the trip between Boston and Lowell by canal boat. Lowell, then called Chelmsford (popularly pronounced Chumpsfud, was reached by the public mode of conveyance only by the stage and the canal. The massive stone locks, as they were called, at Horn Pond and at Lowell were objects of interest to the architect and engineer, as well as the curious public.

The passenger boats were small and not particularly clean, and the society aboard of an extremely mixed character. The captain was often a jolly good natured inland mariner and was perfectly willing to steer his craft at any time alongside the towpath, and allow such of his passengers as desired it, to land and pick the luscious blackberries which hung in masses along the goodly part of the route. If these fruit pickers were out-traveled by their boat, the accommodating captain would pass the word to the mounted driver when the team would be stopped, and the boat hove to, till the stragglers came up.

There was an air of quiet enjoyment about the passengers on a canal boat in those days, when all excited bustle was absent. Take it easy, and plenty of time to get it in, was the motto. As the boat slid along the tranquil channel, under luxuriant trees, and by charming little nooks and corners of the country, the passengers, reclining or sitting in groups about the deck, amused themselves with pleasant conversation and the interchange of little tokens of friendship. In those days punch and piety were plenty in the land, and the lady abovesaid, in relating some incidents of a particular trip, told of one balmy-visaged old gentleman, who after they had been some hours en route, produced a jolly brown jug and a tumbler whose capacity seemed equal to a modern quart bottle; with the assistance of a lemon and a little sugar he soon brewed a stiff tumbler of drink - regular ladies grog, as the sailors say, namely strong, sweet and plenty of it. This refreshing draught he proffered to a lady near him, who, as well as the others of her sex on board, respectfully declined; but not at all offended, mark you, by the well-meant, and customary compliment. His application to a male passenger of eager and thirsty mien, resulted rather fatally to his tipple, and after two or three others had particularly demonstrated their readiness to accept of a drink, the capacious tumbler was dry. The balmy visage of the old gentleman beamed with good nature, as he proceeded to brew another quart of the beverage, which the captain and another individual disposed of in a twinkling. "And now," he cheerily cried, "as the ladies and all the gentlemen are served, I'll endeavor with your permission to mix a little for myself!" Which he did forthwith, merely exciting surprise by the liberal ideas he entertained of the quantity described by the title of little.

About noontime the boat would arrive at Horn Pond, at Woburn Centre. Here the horses were furled, to use a nautical term, and the boat "snubbed to," allowing the passengers to disembark and par-take of a good, solid, substantial dinner-plenty of game and milk and eggs, and abundance of trout, which fish abounded in the vicinity at that time.

The horses were changed and when all hands were perfectly ready and unanimously agreed on the propriety of starting, an embarkation took place; the captain leaned against the long wooden tiller, gave the word to the boy driver, and off the barge glided with its freight of careless passengers.

Then the "locking up" and "locking down" were always productive of interest. As the water came boiling into the lock under the boat while locking up, and as the boat oscillated and jarred with the commotion, it was a grand time for the gallant travelling youth of those days to gently support the timid travelling maiden, and assure her there was no danger.

Sometimes little boys would accidentally tumble overboard forward, and come up astern of the boat, where they were quickly rescued by the timely application of a boathook to the seat of their trousers.

Chelmsford would be reached about five in the afternoon, and all would be delighted with the trip. This good sailing time would be conditional on everything working in a satisfactory manner, and without accident, at a speed of three miles an hour, stops included.

Between 1932 and 1937, Melville S. Munro, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Tufts University, Medford, Mass., assembled five loose-leaf notebooks now in the Archives, Wessell Library, Tufts. The notebooks are in two sets, one of two volumes, and one of three volumes.

The first consists of a brief typescript history of the canal illustrated by over 90 photographs. The second, a typed running commentary of 123 pages interspersed with pictures, includes a 17-page touring description of the canal's route.

In 1938 the Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. published The Middlesex Canal, 1793-1860 by Christopher Roberts, which developed out of his 1927 dissertation, The History of the Middlesex Canal, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Harvard. Robert's work was based in large part upon documents now in the Baker Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, which he had traced to descendants of Loammi Baldwin.

In 1942 Lewis M. Lawrence wrote The Middlesex Canal, privately published in 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Thanks to the efforts of artists fascinated by the canal's pictorial possibilities, many people are able to view paintings and prints of the Middlesex Canal as it was in its heyday.


As a souvenir of the 1976 spring field trip, we offer a reproduction of one of the paintings in the Middlesex Canal Association's collection. It is appropriate that the painting chosen is of the Baldwin Mansion in Woburn, by Joseph Payro.

Joseph C. Payro (1862-1953) of Wakefield, Mass. produced many oil paintings, among them three scenes of the Middlesex Canal. Born in Montreal, Joseph Payro as a child moved with his parents to Lowell, Mass. where he worked in the cotton mills. In his late teens he traveled to New York State and worked for a short time on the Erie Canal driving the mules that drew a canal boat. His experience there resulted in a life-long interest in canals.

After his return to Massachusetts he settled in Wakefield, and was connected for many years with the Heywood Wakefield Furniture Company as an artist and craftsman.

With his friends, Morison Merrill and Leon Cutler, Joseph Payro explored the route of the Middlesex Canal and took many photographs of it. He also copied old maps and drawings of the canal. His three paintings of the Middlesex Canal and six of the Erie Canal were given to the Middlesex Canal Association by his son and daughter, Ernest F. and Cecilia Payro, and are now in the Archives of the Middlesex Canal Association in the Library of the University of Lowell, Lowell, Mass. Lowell, Mass.


The Middlesex Canal Association - and historians everywhere - were saddened by the death on October 25, 1975 of this widely-known teacher, author, and most active researcher for the records of our historic heritage. On the faculty of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his example of accuracy and thoroughness was an inspiration to a generation of young engineers. To all of these, and to hundreds of persons interested in the past, his anecdotes and his writings brought a new remembrance of men and their deeds now all but forgotten. His lifelong studies of early Charlestown were of major effect in our present recognition of its honoured past, - Old Ironsides, the Navy Yard, the Bunker Hill Battle and Monument. His energy was a major influence in reactivation of the Minute Man Company of Charlestown ten years ago, and through its pageantry contributed much to appreciation of the Bicentennial commemorative activities. Fort Washington, not far from his class-room, drew his attention in the 1950's and through his enthusiasm the City of Cambridge took action to restore the Memorial. His affection for this last remaining American fortification of the Siege of Boston continued to the end of his life. Possibly his last public appearance was at the Bicentennial exercises held at Bunker Hill Monument on June 17, 1975.

As a Canal scholar, Professor Adams was an early Proprietor of the Middlesex Canal Association and he was recognized as an authority on the Boston end of the Canal and the Charles River Mill Dam. He extended his studies to the western limits of 19th Century American Canals in Indiana and Illinois on numerous trips, always photographing, inquiring, and remembering details of early engineering practice. He served as President of the Middlesex Canal Association, of the Bay State Historical League, and as Member and Officer of many other historical societies in Boston, Cambridge and Charlestown.

After apparent recovery from a long illness, his unexpected death leaves a sense of loss to all who have known him. We, his friends, wish Mrs. Adams and the family to know of our sympathetic sharing in his loss, and to appreciate that his works in many fields will be long remembered as an example of the highest professional standards.

Wilbur M. Hoxie
Middlesex Canal Association