Middlesex Canal Association P.O. Box 333 Billerica, Massachusetts 01821
Volume 30, No. 2 March, 1992
SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 1992 at 2 P.M.
At the Royall House on Main street in Medford
We will gather at the slave quarters (enter via the gate on George Street on the south side of the Royall property), and we will then be given a conducted tour of the adjacent Royall House. This elegant Georgian mansion and its 500 acre country estate belonged to the Royall family from 1732 until the Revolution, when the family's tory preference forced them to evacuate to England.
After the house tour, we will return to the slave quarters for the annual meeting, slide program, and light refreshments.
For the program, Larry Glassco of Fredericksburg, VA, will show slides of his boat trip on inland waterways of Canada, New York, and New England: the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Oswego Canal, the Erie Canal, the Hudson River, and Long Island Sound, ending in Warren, RI.
After the program and refreshments, plan to take a short walk to see two canal plaques. To get to the first plaque, go to the left, or north, on Main Street. Go past Summer Street, which is the second street after leaving the Royall House, where you will find the plaque on the face of No. 153 Main Street. This marks the location of the Middlesex Canal, which went along the north side of what is now Summer Street.
The second plaque, marking the location of the Medford Branch Canal, which connected the Middlesex to the Mystic River, is located nearby on the face of the Mystic Auto Supply building on the east side of Mystic Avenue (Rte 38) at Swan Street.
The locations of the Royall House and the two plaques described above are shown on the Medford map, in the center-fold of this issue of Towpath Topics.
PAINT THE TOLL HOUSE
Saturday and Sunday, April 25 & 26, 1992
Meet at 9 a.m. in the perk across from the fire station (just out of Chelmsford Center, along Rte 4, heading toward North Chelmsford). The town put new siding and roof shingles on the Old Middlesex Canal Toll House that stands in the part, near the town center. Now, it needs paint! If the weather will cooperate (and the paint dries quickly enough), we should be able to get the siding primed in the morning, and possibly a second coat on in the afternoon. If all goes well, we should be able to give it either a second or third coat the following morning. Please call Bill Gerber, 508/251-4971, if you plan to help. Wear old clothes, bring paint brushes, buckets, drop cloths, ladders, etc.; the MCA will provide paint, thinner, and brush cleaner.
Saturday, May 16, 1992
Members and friends of the Middlesex Canal Association are urged to join with Troop 30 of the Billerica Boy Scouts in a canal clean-up project. We will meet at 9 a.m. where the canal crosses Dignon Road in Billerica. As you travel north on Rte. 129, Dignon Road is the second right after you pass the Shawsheen Aqueduct on the Wilmington-Billerica town line.
The section of canal from which we will be picking up bottles, cans, logs, brush, and other debris runs from Dignon Road to Brown Street. This section was given to the Association 11 years ago by Frank Dignon.
Be sure to wear old clothes, waterproof boots, and work gloves. We will need a few brush clippers, small tree saws, and possibly rakes. So, if you have any of these, please bring them.
If you have questions, call Dave Fitch at 508/663-7848. Hope to see you in Billerica!
FALL MEETING 1991
On Sunday, November 17, 1991, the members of the Middlesex Canal Association met at the Unitarian Church in Chelmsford. After a short business meeting, David Barber presented an illustrated talk about his trip on the Kawartha Voyageur along the Rideau Waterway in Ontario.
The Rideau Waterway, the first steamboat canal in North America, was designed as a by-pass to the St. Lawrence seaway following the War of 1812; it was built by military engineers to provide a route from Kingston to the Ottawa River, and on to Montreal, that was totally within Canadian territory. The Rideau runs more than 120 miles from Kingston to Ottawa, with only 18 miles of artificial channel. There are 47 locks: 33 north and 14 south of the summit, allowing a rise of 439 feet. The trip on the Voyageur started above the first 8 locks in Ottawa, as the canal rises out of the Ottawa River valley, and ended in Kingston. David's pictures and descriptions were very such enjoyed by an appreciative audience.
This year, 1992, marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Middlesex Canal Association. Louis Eno, who was a charter member and president for the first ten years, is preparing a brief history of the founding of the Association. It will appear in the next issue of Towpath Topics.
Meanwhile, a more significant anniversary is approaching. Next year will be the bicentennial of the forming of the Canal Company in 1703. Eleven years of planning and construction were required before the canal was completed and boats could travel the full length from Boston to what later became Lowell.
The Directors have been considering all sorts of ideas as to how best to celebrate the bicentennial. Ideas have included theatrical dramatizations of various key events occurring over the 10-year construction period, re-enactments of ground breaking ceremonies and first watering of the several segments of the canal, development of school presentations, and the possible featuring of Woburn's canal boat, "General Sullivan."
So far, it appears that television may be the way to go. We are considering the possibility of producing our own tapes, in conjunction with local cable companies and/or seeing if PBS or commercial stations would be interested in putting on a Middlesex Canal production. We would like to reach out to our entire membership to find people who have interest or experience in any aspect of TV production. So, we urge those interested in helping on a bicentennial TV project to please contact me (telephone 617/729-2557) or any of the other directors.
Another bicentennial project, which was mentioned briefly in the last issue of Towpath Topics, is the production of "A Pictorial History of the Middlesex Canal" by Carl Seaburg. Preliminary work on this project has already commenced. Carl is presently concentrating on a Middlesex Canal 1993 calendar and a poster, which will be sold to help finance his book. You will be seeing more about this in the months ahead.
Still another bicentennial suggestion, perhaps overly optimistic, is a commemorative U.S. postage stamp. This most likely would require a long lead time and probably it is not too early now to aim for a stamp to be issued in 2003 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the canal completion. How does one go about interesting the Post Office in such a stamp? If any of you are knowledgeable about this or are philatelists with an interest in helping us, please let me know. Any comments you may have regarding bicentennial projects, general or specific, would be gratefully appreciated.
FALL CANAL WALK, 1991
BILLERICA, CHELMSFORD AND LOWELL
contributed by Bill Gerber
October 5th was bright and pleasant, and about 40 to 50 people turned out for the 28th Old Middlesex Canal Walk. They came from many of the communities along the old canal, and a number of others, too. Some were MCA members, some AMC, and others were simply people interested in history or a pleasant walk. We met in the Talbot Mills parking lot, in the early afternoon, at about the site where the floating towpath once spanned the Concord River.
When a crowd had gathered, we toured by the iron rings, set in a large rock, that once anchored the western end of the floating towpath; pointed out the spit of land at the eastern end that served as a causeway to it; and talked a bit and answered a few questions about that marvel of early canal ingenuity. We continued on to the inlet to the Merrimack Branch of the canal and then across the street to the end of the stone Guard Lock that is still visible just inside the Talbot Mills property.
Next, we managed to confuse everyone when we organized a car shuttle. The plan was to take half of all the cars, and all the people, and drive to the far-end section of towpath that we planned to walk along. We would park these cars at the far end, and all of us would walk back to the Talbot Mills. Then, we would take the cars we had left at the Mills (the remaining half), and all the people, and drive back to where we parked the first half. (There, hopefully, everyone would be reunited with the car they came in.) Simple - right? Well, we did get it all straightened out eventually, and it worked, too! But it wasn't easy!
Between the Riverneck Road intersection with the towpath (within sight of the Rte. 495 and Lowell Connector cloverleaf) and our meeting place by the Concord River, the canal ran in a gradual bend. We walked first along Canal Street (built right on the towpath) and then along an easement granted to the MCA by the United Parcel Service, in Chelmsford. There was a watered remnant of the canal along most of this distance, although at times it took considerable imagination to mentally transform that muddy strip, overgrown with vegetation and filled in places (apparently by town departments that should know better), into the busy transportation artery that it once was.
(Are you aware that cloverleaves were first used on canals? I don't think they were used on the Middlesex, but they were used on some other canals where the towpath was moved from one bank of the canal to the other. They enabled the tow-animals to be walked across bridges from one side to the other, without having to be unhitched from the boats!)
Brick Kiln Road and the Chelmsford-Billerica town line intersect almost on the canal. From there, we continued our walk through a wooded area to Boston Road (Rte 3A), and from there along Lowell Street (also built right on the towpath) back to our starting place at Talbot Mills. En route, we passed the site of Red Lock (by the fire station, built on a filled-in portion of a canal-boat basin), where boats could be let down into the Concord River for a trip down river to North Billerica or Lowell (or vice versa). Evidence of this lock can still be found, but one should have considerable determination (and an immunity to poison ivy!) before trekking back in to find it.
With the first phase of the program completed, perhaps half of our original number drove to Middlesex Village (to the right side of and behind the charcoal-colored building in back of the former Alexander's Market) to the site where three stone locks once connected the Concord-level canal with the Merrimack River, about 25 feet below. The lock stones have long since been "quarried" (by the railroad, I was once told, to become the foundations of other structures in the area). The Merrimack-level boat-basin, where boats waited their turn to ascend to the Concord level, is barely a trace along the banks of the River. Some of the railroad, too, is now abandoned. Here it takes all the imagination one can muster to recreate the scene as it may once have been.
Across Middlesex Street, behind a stone wall that extends along the edge of Hadley Park, there is a canal marker. Once upon a time, the canal ran across this park and over an aqueduct across Black Brook, and on to the east of Stedman Street in Chelmsford. En route, it passed through the western edge of the Mt. Pleasant Golf Club, where we went next.
On the Golf Club grounds, at one point, Black Brook has been diverted into what was the canal channel, and this is now a water-trap. It is rather obvious where the canal was, as the banks of the brook are very straight for a short distance, and then the brook returns to its old stream bed. Immediately to the north, there is a fairly well preserved section of the old canal prism (though it has become a depository for grass clippings and trimmings in recent years). Perhaps a quarter of our original group made it to and through this third and final phase of our program.
The Golf Club had graciously invited us to enjoy their lounge, but, by the time we completed the last of the tour, everyone else departed. Only the "die-hards," Burt, Fran and I, stayed on to do so. That was a nice, relaxing way to end a very satisfying day!
WINTER MEETING 1992
On Sunday afternoon, February 2, 1992, at the Unitarian Church in Winchester, the MCA was treated to an illustrated talk by Richard White-Smith, of the New York Parks and Conservation Association, on the Delaware and Hudson Canal. This canal, built with private funds and completed in 1829, ran from the coal area of northeastern Pennsylvania to near Kingston, NY, on the Hudson River; coal was carried from there down the Hudson River to New York City, and up to Troy. Along the canal were 4 aqueducts designed by John Roebling of Brooklyn Bridge fame - one of these, across the Delaware River, is now a road bridge under the care of the National Park Service.
There are still some watered sections of this canal in New York State; much of it is in private hands, but the Canal ends in an Urban Cultural Park in Kingston. The D&H Canal museum is well worth a visit; 5 locks near there are still in good condition.
Richard went on to talk a bit about the Genesee Valley Canal, which ran from Rochester to Letchworth State Park ("the Grand Canyon of the East"), which was begun in 1840 and lasted about 30 years. In spite of written reports to the contrary, most of this Canal is still there, although unwatered. Groups, comprising industry, towns, historical associations, etc., are now getting together to help preserve the remains of this Canal as a greenway for all to enjoy.
The above photo is from the collection of historic photographs described below; it shows the Baldwin Mansion
in its original location on the canal, along with the out-buildings behind it.
GIFT OF HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS
The Association recently was given a set of about 35 Middlesex Canal photographs, taken mostly in the early 1930's by James L. Faden. Of especial interest are:
We are indebted to the thoughtfulness and generosity of George C. Kruzen, II and Mrs. Charles R. Moon, nephew and daughter of Mr. Faden, for these photographs. They will become part of the Association's historical collection and may be seen in the archives at the Patrick Mogan Cultural Center in Lowell.
DEDICATION OF CHELMSFORD CANAL MONUMENT
Almost a year ago, on May 4, a brief dedication ceremony was held to celebrate the installation of the granite monument commemorating the old Middlesex Canal, beside the canal bed at Riverneck Road opposite Canal Street in Chelmsford. Stone for Chelmsford's monument is from the local LeMasurier Granite Quarry, and foundation work and land improvement was done by the owner of the property, Mr. Gary Kinney.
Below is a photograph of the occasion, showing, from left to right, Robert N. Kuehn, Middlesex Canal Commissioner; Gary Kinney, property owner; Atty. Arthur L. Eno, Jr., a founder and first President of the Middlesex Canal Association; State Representative Carol C. Cleven; and Jane B. Drury, Middlesex Canal Commissioner.
THE BOSTON AND LOWELL RAILROAD
[The Middlesex Canal had already been in service 32 years, providing passenger and freight transportation between Charlestown and the Merrimack River, by the time the Boston and Lowell Railroad commenced service in 1835. The canal and railroad operated together for another 15 years, but competition proved too much for the canal and it was out of business by 1850.
The following is part of an article entitled "The Boston and Lowell Railroad, the Nashua and Lowell Railroad, and the Salem and Lowell Railroad," by Francis B. C. Bradley, which appeared in Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, Vol. LIV No. 3, pp. 193-204, July 1918. It is reproduced with permission from the Essex Institute of Salem, Mass. Although the article concerns primarily the Boston and Lowell Railroad, there are many references to the Middlesex Canal, and we believe the descriptions of the railroad and the conditions of that period may be of interest to our Towpath Topics readers.]
It is not easy for the ordinary person to realize the growth of our country or to call up in imagination the past as it was, say eighty or ninety years ago. At that time there were only twelve houses standing on the territory that now comprises the city of Lowell, which same territory now houses nearly one hundred thousand population; Lawrence was then only swamps and pastures. But the development of transportation facilities is more surprising.
In 1821 there were, as before noted, only a dozen houses where the great "cotton city" now stands.
In 1822, under the lead of Messrs. William Appleton, Patrick T. Jackson and Kirk Boott of Boston - the latter an energetic Englishman who had come from the cotton manufacturing districts of England - it was determined to use the water power at Pawtucket Falls, and a company called the "Locks and Canal Company on Merrimack River" and corporations for cotton manufacturing were organized, buildings undertaken, and on Sept. 1, 1823, the first wheel of the Merrimack Company started.
During the next six or seven years the growth of the business was so great, population so increased, and transportation of raw materials to Lowell and of manufactured goods therefrom was so great an item, that the same enterprising men who had started the mills saw that, for the proper development of their investments, there must be better carrying facilities between Lowell and Boston. A few years before this date a canal had been dug around Pawtucket Falls for boats, and these ascended the Merrimack through other canals and locks at Wicassee, Amoskeag and Hooksett Falls and Bow Canal to the upper landing in Concord, N.H., 85 miles from Boston.
Thus boats went through the Middlesex Canal from Boston Harbor, passing through Woburn and Wilmington. The line of this canal may still be seen at many points south on the line of the railroad from Boston to Lowell.
It is interesting to note that before any steamboats had made trips in Boston harbor (1817), a steam canal boat, the "Merrimack", had plied between Boston and Lowell on the Middlesex Canal.
Besides this canal, there were "six stage coaches, drawn by four or six horses each, which passed daily from Boston to Lowell and back, making in all 39 passages weekly in each direction .... The stages were usually fully loaded, and it was computed that they conveyed from 100 to 120 passengers daily from one town to another."
(Committee Report to the Massachusetts legislature of 1830.)
It was found there were sixteen tons of freight daily passing between Boston and Lowell from the manufactories, and eight tons of other merchandise, making in all twenty-four tons of freight daily, all of which could now be easily transported in two box railroad cars going to and from Lowell.
But it was then found that the Middlesex Canal, closed by ice in the winter, the highways, sandy in the summer, muddy in early spring and winter, and often blocked by snow in mid-winter, were not sufficient for the growing needs of Factory village.
In 1826 the first railroad in America was completed, three miles in length, extending from the Quincy granite quarries in Massachusetts to the Neponset river, for the movement of granite. Horses were used as the motive power. Thomas Handyside Perkins, a merchant of Boston, was the builder and president of this pioneer road. The laborers who worked on the construction of it were paid only $12 per month and board, with long days at that, and it is of interest to repeat here a description of the road-bed published at the time. "The road is constructed in the most substantial manner. It rests on a foundation of stone, laid so deep in the ground as to be beyond reach of the frost ... the rails are laid on stones eight feet in length ... at a distance six or eight feet from each other ... the rails are of pine timber, on the top of which is placed a bar of iron .... The carriage wheels are of a size considerably larger than a common cart wheel .... The same year (1826) another railroad, nine miles in length, was opened among the coal mines of the Lehigh region in Pennsylvania.
These and other experiments moved the owners of the Lowell investments to agitate for the construction of a railroad between Boston and Lowell. The owners of the Middlesex canal strenuously opposed it, saying in their remonstrance to the Massachusetts legislature: "We believe there never can be a sufficient inducement to extend a railroad from Lowell westwardly and northwestwardly to the Connecticut river, so as to make it the great avenue to and from the interior, but that its termination must be at Lowell, and consequently that is to be a substitute for the modes of transportation now in use between that place and Boston, and cannot deserve patronage from the supposition that it is to be more extensively useful."
This amuses us now, when the relative value of canals and railroads and the great through lines which extend beyond Lowell are considered.
Disregarding all remonstrances, the legislature of 1829 ordered a survey between the points, and Mr. James Hayward made and presented it, Gov. Levi Lincoln transmitting it on January 7 to the legislature of 1830. This survey showed that the building of such a road was feasible. The "Records of the Directors of the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River" show that on January 18, 1830, Patrick T. Jackson, Esq., of Boston (to whom more than any one else belongs the credit of successfully building the road in the face of every kind of discouragement and ridicule), addressed a request to Kirk Boott, Esq., agent, asking him "to call a meeting of the Directors ... at which I shall propose ... a meeting of the Proprietors of that stock to the project for building a railroad from this place (Boston) to Lowell." The directors met on the 22d and the proprietors on the 27th, at the house of Mr. Jackson, where the first organized action was taken to secure a charter for such a road. It was granted, and the act of the legislature bears the date June 5, 1830. The charter was a perpetual one, giving the company for thirty years the exclusive right to supply railroad facilities between Boston and Lowell, which the State courts afterwards sustained them in asserting.
Several routes had been surveyed and considered, but finally to avoid the steeper grades the one running between Charlestown and Cambridge, through Medford, West Cambridge, Stoneham, Woburn, Wilmington, Burlington, Tewksbury and Billerica to Lowell, a distance of 26 miles, was chosen.
The construction of the road began at once, Irish laborers being principally employed to do the heavy work.
To lessen the expense, only a single track was at first laid, but Mr. Jackson reported to the directors that "it is expedient to purchase land and lay out the road contemplating a double track." It was determined that the construction should be of the most solid character, and the road was built accordingly. The track to be substantial and require little repair, was laid on ties of split granite. Beneath each rail of the outward track (which was the first one built) was laid a wall of stone, about four feet in height for the entire length of the road. After the road was opened, however, the stone sleepers were soon given up, as they were found to make the track too rigid. The rails of that day were not the now universal T pattern, but were what were called "fish bellies", because perpendicularly they were widest in the middle and tapered off at the ends where they entered the chairs. Those on the Boston and Lowell Railroad were of iron and weighed only 35 pounds to the yard.
The "cut" through the ledge at Lowell and the building of the Chelmsford street bridge at the same place, were, in 1834, considered wonderful feats of engineering. On many early American railroads the rails were of strap iron spiked on wooden rails, the effect of the rolling wheels on the top side of the iron was to curve the same and loosen it also; and an unpleasant feature of primitive railroad travel was the "snake's head" or end of a loosened rail punching through the floor of the car, to the passenger's discomfort, not to say danger.
The old Boston and Lowell was originally so well located that there was no grade over ten feet to the mile, and the same is now true between Boston and Lowell, except at the overhead crossing of the Fitchburg division of the Boston and Maine at Somerville. And this fact, with wide easy curves, good equipment and careful management, goes far to account for the remarkable fact that for many years no passenger was ever fatally injured while within its cars.
The original estimate for building the road with a single track (exclusive of the cost of depots, engines, cars, etc.), was $469,296.79, but, according to the annual report for 1835 (issued just before the road was opened), it was stated that "the cost will not be much less than a million dollars ..."
At first the capital of the Boston and Lowell Railroad consisted of $1,200,000 in paid up shares of a par value of $500 each, probably the only railroad corporation in the country with a par of over $100; to which it was changed in January, 1885, by dividing each share into five. In March, 1837, the legislature authorized the company to increase its capital stock by $240,000. Until 1854 the Massachusetts railroads were not allowed to fund their floating debts by means of bond issues, improvements and new construction had to be paid for by new issues of stock, or notes signed by the directors or principal stockholders. The original board of directors of the Lowell road were: George W. Lyman, Kirk Boott, Patrick T. Jackson, William Appleton and J.F. Loring.
While the road was under construction it was not yet decided what sort of propelling power should be used; whether horses drawing the cars of working in them as a tread mill, or even sails, all of which experiments were made on the Baltimore and Ohio and the South Carolina Railroads in 1830. Were horses to be adopted as the motive power, it was considered probable that small parties of passengers could hire cars and go and come at their pleasure on the road, thus. carrying out the old idea of a turnpike the use of which was free to all. But the successful experiment of George Stephenson in October, 1829, on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, with his steam locomotive engine "Rocket", attaining a speed of 30 miles an hour, with a loaded carriage attached, soon decided the question of propulsion.
The "New Hampshire Telegraph" of Nov. 17, 1832, published at Nashua, N.H., says: "The ship 'Choctaw', at Boston from Liverpool, has on board a Locomotive engine, with apparatus complete, intended for the Lowell Railroad. She has also brought for the same purpose about 2000 bars of railroad iron".
At length the great day arrived, and on June 24, 1835, the Boston and Lowell Railroad was opened for travel. The notices in the newspapers of this historic event are meagre and unsatisfactory, far less mention is made of this pioneer line than of later and less important railroads. The Boston Advertiser of June 24 says: "It will be perceived by the advertisement of the company, that the cars are to commence their regular trips on this route for the accommodation of passengers to-day."
The Boston Mercantile Journal makes the following mentions in its issues of June 25 and 26 respectively: "Boston and Lowell Railroad -- The cars commenced running to-day, making two trips each way during the day, leaving Lowell at 6 A.M. and 2 1-2 P.M., and Boston at 9 1-2 A.M. and 5 1-2 P.M. After this week the Company will run two engines and make as many trips as the public convenience may require, giving due notice of the future arrangement." and: "The cars on the Lowell Railroad commenced running Wednesday morning. The cars came to Boston yesterday with the mail in 1 1-4 hours."
The earliest time tables were as follows: (in the Boston Mercantile Journal for June 25, 1835.) "Boston and Lowell Rail-Road. The cars will continue to run till further notice as at present, viz:'
Leave Lowell at 6 A.M. and 2 1-2 P.M.
Leave Boston at 9 A.M. and 5 1-2 P.M.
No baggage can be taken except what belongs to passengers. Allowance to each, 40 lbs. As soon as Burthen (freight) cars can be provided, notice will be given for the transportation of merchandize.
Tickets may be had at the Depot, corner of Leverett and Brighton streets. Price $1.
George M. Dexter, Agent."
Mr. Dexter was what we should now call the superintendent, but in those early days the directors designated him "agent", as in the mills. This title did not long survive.
Another early advertisement is interesting to reproduce, showing as it does the earliest connection for through travel: -
(New England Palladium for June 27, 1835.) "Lowell R. R. and Steamboat Lines for New-Hampshire and Vermont.
The cars for these Lines will leave the Depot in Boston at 9 o'clock A.M. on and after Monday, June 29th. On the arrival at Lowell carriages will take the passengers free of charge immediately on board the steamer which will convey them to Nashua, N.H., where stages in connexion with the Concord, N.H., and Amherst and Francistown lines will be in readiness to take them forward. The passengers will dine on board the steamer while she is passing up the River.
Captain of the steamboat 'Herald'.
Lowell, June 27, 1835."
At this time there were many small stern-wheeled, flat-bottomed steamboats that navigated the upper Merrimack and Connecticut rivers. They did not long survive the coming of the railroads.
The first station in Boston was a small one-story brick building situated, as before noted, on the corner of Leverett and Brighton streets. At first the cars did not run into it, but stopped at East Cambridge until the bridge (afterwards used for freight purposes) was built. The present Lowell depot, now part of the North Union station, was the third terminus erected in Boston by the company. Another wooden building, with a facade of pillars, on Merrimack street, constituted the first station in Lowell. A bell was rung by the conductor a few minutes before the departure of each train in Boston or Lowell.
In the "Merchants and Traders Guide" for 1836 there is also this interesting announcement in the advertisement of the road: "Before the starting of the cars, stages leave Nos. 9 and 11 Elm Street, and City Tavern, Brattle Street (Boston), and call at almost any part of the city for passengers and take them to the depot free of charge."
Also: "Arrangements have not yet been made, though they are in progress, for the conveyance of merchandize, but there is a private car attached to the line for the purpose of conveying small quantities of merchandize." This was the embryo of the present express company cars.
The original locomotive on the road was built at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, by Robert Stephenson, in 1832. From a government return (House of Representatives No. 21, Session 1838), in the author's possession, which gives particulars of all the locomotives and steamboats then in the country, it is learned that this engine was of the high pressure type of 30 horse power, with four large wheels, and weighed seven tons. It was named after its famous builder, "Stephenson", but was always better known by its nickname of "John Bull". According to Mr. Herbert C. Taft, in his interesting pamphlet, "The Early Days of Railroading", this locomotive when landed in Boston was sent to Lowell via the Middlesex canal, and there put together and the trial trip made from that end of the road. The reason for this is uncertain, unless it was because many of the promoters of the railroad lived in Lowell. Other early locomotives built by the Lowell Machine Shops in 1835-36, were the "Patrick" (named for Mr. Patrick T. Jackson), "Lowell", "Boston", "Merrimack", "Concord" and "Nashua", all practically of the same type as the "Stephenson". All these engines burnt wood, mostly pine. The "Patrick", "Lowell" and "Boston" had brass driving wheels, and the "Merrimack" had wooden ones, but on the latter engine these were soon changed to iron. All these locomotives were of the same general style, weighing about nine tons, with five feet drivers, eleven inch cylinders, and fourteen inch stroke. When the first engine was built in Lowell its naming caused quite a controversy. The intention had been to name it "Jackson", after Mr. Patrick T. Jackson, the treasurer, but it being at the time of President Jackson's political supremacy, the prevailing Whig element in the management refused to allow the name on political grounds so that the, to them, grave and important question was compromised and the locomotive was named "Patrick".
The early engineers, firemen and trainmen had a life of much hardship in cold or stormy weather. There were no such things as cabs on locomotives until about 1848, and there were no cabooses on freight trains. The passenger crews rode on top of the cars and freight men on the locomotives. Mr. John B. Winslow, for many years the superintendent of the Boston and Lowell Railroad and one of its early engineers, remembered to have stood over twelve hours on the foot board of his engine, exposed to the weather, with the thermometer below zero. The first engineer on the road was an Englishman named Robinson, imported at the same time as the engine. We are indebted to Mr. Taft for the following amusing anecdote regarding him. Robinson was referred to as an "English dandy," and "he lost no opportunity to impose upon the patience and credulity of the Yankees. He was not very particular about train time, would saunter up to the depot an hour after his train was due to start, carelessly look around upon the waiting passengers, deliberately look over his engine, mount the platform, put on his kid gloves, and in his own good time and pleasure start his train towards Boston. He would also suddenly stop his engine when he got nearly to a station, jump down, look over the engine anxiously, crawl under it, remove a nut from some bolt, look it over and put it back again. The next day the papers would announce how the engine had broken down on the way, etc., but had been skilfully repaired by engineer Robinson." It was not long, however, before the management caught on, and he was replaced by a skilled mechanic from the Locks and Canals Works, from which source the engineers required were obtained for many years.
Another early engineer was J.C. Poor. The first fireman was Waterman Brown. He lost a hand by an accident soon after the opening of the road, but was employed for many years after as a crossing tender at Woburn.
The first conductors were John Barrett, Williards, J. E. Short and Calvin Stevens (the latter ran the freight train). Perhaps they were former stage drivers, as most of the early New England railroads were glad to employ these men in that capacity as they were used to the travelling public and their ways. The first type of passenger car on the Lowell road resembled the ordinary stage coach mounted on a frame, with wheels adapted to the rails. They were divided into three compartments each, with doors on the side, the passengers sitting back to back, as they do still in England. Very soon each car was provided with a seat on the roof, covered with a chaise top. In these the conductor and brakeman sat, and the former, by means of a whistle, gave the signal for applying the hand brakes, which were operated by means of long levers. The picture of the early train does not show this arrangement. A short chain of three links coupled the cars together, and the latter were neither heated nor lighted.
The first freight cars were open, and it is said the very earliest ones had no brakes at all. Salaries were proportioned as follows: the superintendent received $1,500 per annum, conductors and engineers $2 per day, brakemen and firemen $1 per day. The early tickets sold on the Lowell road were a curiosity. They were made of stout cardboard of various colors; on one side was printed the name of the station, on the other a series of hieroglyphics resembling Chinese characters. This last was the brilliant idea of one of the railroad officials to prevent their being counterfeited. As was the custom on all the early New England railroads, the tickets were not punched or cancelled, but after collection by the conductor were handed back to the ticket offices and used over and over again until worn out. The conductor was supposed to know everybody and discriminate between transients and season ticket holders.