Middlesex Canal Association    P.O. Box 333    Billerica, Massachusetts 01821
Volume 17, No. 3    October, 1979


The fall meeting of the Middlesex Canal Association will take place on Sunday, October 21, 1979, and will consist of a visit to the Charlestown Navy Yard dry-dock built by Loammi Baldwin, Jr., and a business meeting and dinner at the new Transportation Museum at Fort Point Channel in Boston, where we will see an exhibit on the Middlesex Canal. The complete program schedule and a registration coupon appear on page 7 of this issue.

Excerpt from "Sketches of Boston, Past and Present", by Isaac Smith Homans, 1851 (added by RW, 2009)

18th Annual Old Middlesex Canal Walk
Saturday, October 27, 1979
Billerica, Mass.

Meet at the Hajjar School, corner of Call and Rogers Streets at 1:30 P.M. From Billerica Center, proceed North on Route 3A to the first traffic light, in one mile bear right on Pollard Street (avoid Route 129) for mile, turn right on High Street. After crossing the Railroad tracks, turn left on Rogers Street. School is on the left. A walk of four miles, a woodland route over prepared trails, a short stretch along more obvious remains of the canal. A National Historic Landmark. Co-sponsors of the walk are the Appalachian Mountain Club, Troop 55, BSA, who will serve as guides, and the Middlesex Canal Association which will provide a lecturer, Louis Eno, former President of the Middlesex Canal Association. Camera enthusiasts welcome. A potluck supper will be served by Troop 55 Mothers' Auxiliary at the Hajjar School. Donation $1.50. Make reservations for supper by October 25 with Edith Choate, 429 West Street, Reading, (944-0129).


I would like to embellish the report of this summer's season of packet boat rides in Woburn. Again, as in the previous two summers, the rides were engineered by Len Harmon, Tom Smith, Lisa Harmon and a devoted coterie of canal workers. The faithful draft horse Lightfoot, towed over a thousand passengers who rode both inside the packet boat Colonel Baldwin and atop the roof. Rides on a smooth as glass waterway capture the wonderful quiet of the canal age and instill a magic hard to describe to any but those who experience it. Perhaps the most fun of all is to hear the enthusiasm of those who treated themselves to the canal trip.

While this nostalgic happening took place, the Middlesex Canal Commissioners were hard at work and the Industrial Archeology Associates were preparing their first research findings to release at the next Towpath Topics and to be discussed at our meetings.

The Transportation Museum, newly located at Fort Point Channel, Boston, in a renovated old wool warehouse and in conjunction with the Children's Museum, has been preparing an exhibit on the Middlesex Canal. We are indeed pleased by knowing of the grand exposure this will give to the public of our canal!

Board Member Len Harmon and Niles Blackburn were also hard at work preparing a watered towpath canal lock model which they plan to have completed in time for our big fall meeting at the Transportation Museum. We are indeed most pleased that the Transportation Museum has offered us the use of their theatre for our fall business meeting. Plans for cocktails' and dinner at the beautiful Trawlers Restaurant on the ground floor of the Museum building should turn this grand opening of our exhibit and tour of the museum into a gala affair.

Since the noted great work of our Middlesex Canal engineer Loammi Baldwin, Jr., the dry dock at the Charlestown Navy Yard is open on Sunday so nearby, it has been planned that our October 21st canal meeting start here at 2:30 P.M.... then on to the Transportation Museum by 3:30.

A new edition of the Middlesex Canal pamphlet has been prepared and printed by the Hancock Press, longtime canal members, and we urge you to help us distribute these in your town/city libraries and High School libraries.

The IRS has finally approved of us as a tax exempt institution. Along with this goes our long sought bulk mailing privilege. Our new postal permit is #15 which will be mailed from the new regional mailing center for Middlesex & Essex Counties. This elegant new center is conveniently located on the junction of Washington St. and Route 128 in Woburn with a ZIP 01888.

Fran VerPlanck


Sam'l P. Hadley, Esq.


I am instructed by the Directors of the Middlesex Canal, (according to a vote of the Proprietors thereof,) to request that you will forthwith, and in the least time possible, remove the bridge over said canal by the land sold you; and before doing the same put up across said roadway, on both sides of the bridge, suitable fences, side guards and lights (by night) in conformity with the laws of the Commonwealth, and in such manner as to prevent all possibility of injury to any and all persons travelling over the same.

All damages sustained by your neglect in not sufficiently preventing travellers from injury must be borne by you, as all interest in said bridges which the Proprietors of the Middlesex Canal have heretofore held is now surrendered to you, and no further notice will be given.

Caleb Eddy, AGENT.

BOSTON, MAY 20th, 1852.


The 1803 Middlesex Canal packet boat "Colonel Baldwin" completed its third season of operation. The horse-drawn packet carried over 1,000 visitors between July 1 and September 2 along a restored stretch of the historic waterway, from the Baldwin Mansion (Rts. 38 and 128) in Woburn to a point just below Nichol's Bridge in North Woburn and return; for a round trip distance of over one mile.

The excursions, which began at 2PM on Sundays, attracted extensive newspaper articles and television media coverage, being featured on "Evening Magazine", served to increase the general public's awareness of the Old Middlesex Canal and its potential.

The Historical Commission of the City of Woburn and the Woburn Canal Society were greatly pleased with the response and genuine interest of all who took voyages on the packet and look forward to an even more successful next season of "Middlesex Canal Navigation".


The State Commission has been progressing on schedule, with the first phase, the archaeological survey and recommendations to be completed by the end of September.

A meeting will then be held in October to review their finding.

TRAGEDY AT THE AQUEDUCT - A trolley car accident in Billerica. Photo from MCA Collection - Gift of C. Talbot Sheldon.

MEMORANDUM of AGREEMENT, made this _____ day of _____ 1791, between _____ on one part, and _____ Agents in behalf of the Proprietors of MIDDLESEX CANAL, on the other part,

WITNESSETH, That the said, _____ doth engage to dig, make, and complete, _____ rods in length of said Canal, beginning at _____ extending to _____ as staked out by said Agents. The bottom of said Canal shall be 20 feet in width in the Canal, at the perpendicular height of three feet six inches; it shall be thirty feet six inches in width, and the same degree of slopes shall be preferred in all parts of the sides and banks. At the perpendicular height of four feet six inches from the bottom, a level towing path shall be made ten feet wide - then the side or bank shall rise in the same degree of slope as aforefaid; and at every perpendicular height of six feet on each side or bank, a horizontal bench of two feet wide shall be made throughout the whole work.

In Consideration Whereof, the said Agents, in behalf of said Proprietors, engage to pay said _____
_____ Dollars, being _____ Dollars per rod in length. But if any stone is found in the course thereof, that two men cannot lift into a cart, then the said Proprietors are to blow the same at their own cost, until two men can lift them as aforesaid.

the said _____ engage to perform the whole of said contract, to the acceptance of the Superintendent and Agents of said Proprietors, and to complete the same on or before the _____ day of _____ next.

In Witness Whereof, the parties hereunto set their Hands and Seals, this _____ day of _____ A. D. 1795.


October 21, 1979


2:30 REGISTRATION (At Charlestown Navy Yard National Historic Park, Meet at the Dry Dock - a short way east of the Constitution.)

2:45 Short talk about Dry Dock built by Loammi Baldwin, Jr.


4:30 FILM - TRANSPORTATION 1750-1860 (Be at the Museum Theatre promptly at 4:30)

5:00 M.C.A. BUSINESS MEETING at Museum Theatre

5:30 RECEPTION at TRAWLERS' RESTAURANT (1st floor) (cash bar complimentary hors d'oeuvres) (wine & beer only)

N.Y. steak or scrod, baked potato, vegetable and coffee - $7.50 each (incl. tax and tip)

Clip & Return
NAME _________
ADDRESS _________
N.Y. steak    $7.50 each
scrod            $7.50 each
TOTAL _______
(Return by October 17)