Middlesex Canal Association P.O. Box 333 Billerica, Massachusetts 01821
Volume 25, No. 1 October, 1986
25th ANNUAL OLD MIDDLESEX CANAL WALK
Saturday, October 25th at 1:30 P.M.
Meet at Hajjar School, Call and Rogers Street, Billerica at 1:30 P.M.
Our Annual Canal Walk in Billerica is a cooperative effort of the Middlesex Canal Association, the Appalachian Mountain Club; and Troop 55, of the Boy Scouts of America. The portion of the canal route that we cover in this 4 mile walk includes some of the most significant extant remains of the Canal. From the Hajjar School, we walk to the Concord River mill pond, site of the famous floating towpath and then move along the canal route passing the Rogers House, formerly thought to be the Toothaker Tavern. The woodland sections of the walk include the "Deep Cut" and some well watered stretches that enable one to visualize canal boats being pulled by horses along the towpath. There will be several stops for historical commentary and many opportunities for taking pictures of the fine fall foliage.
Following the walk, a spaghetti supper will be served at the Hajjar School by the Troop 55 Mothers Auxiliary (Donation $3.00). If staying for supper, please make reservations by October 23 with Edith Choate at 944-0129.
Directions to the Hajjar School: Through Billerica Center on 3-A North, at bottom of hill bear right at the traffic lights onto Pollard Street (avoid sharp right onto Route 129). Continue straight for ½ mile, turning right at liquor store onto High Street. After crossing railroad tracks, take first left onto Rogers Street. After passing over a second set of tracks, watch for Hajjar School on left (one-tenth mile from tracks) at corner of Rogers and Call Streets.
For more information, call Malcolm Choate (944-0129).
Canal Restored by Private Company in Billerica!
The first phrase of a delightful restoration of a portion of the Middlesex Canal in Billerica, west of High Street, has been completed by the Quality Control Company of that town. At a cost of $32,000 spent over a month's time by the company, many tons of tires, trees, parts of old cars, trucks and other debris, were removed and the bed of the canal dredged out. The bank and abutting land on the north side, on which the company's new building stands, has been grassed over and landscaped. $6,000 more has been spent on clearing the underbrush on land south of the canal, but this side will be left relatively wooded. The canal in the restored area is filled with water, and ducks have returned there to feed.
Mr. John Cappadona, the young and personable founder and president of the seven year old Quality Paper Company, plans to build two wooden bridges across the canal, so that employees will be able to enjoy noontime picnics in the park-like area to be made on the south bank. These bridges will be built from pictures and plans in the canal archives.
Older residents of the town recall swimming here, and it is the long-term hope of Mr. Cappadona to be able to clean up more of the canal toward Rogers Street. In that case, he added with a grin, the water in the canal "will be clean enough for my kids to swim in it." He also hopes in the future to give a strip of land about twenty feet wide along the south bank to the town for conservation purposes.
The Quality Paper Company began in October 1979 with Mr. Cappadona and four employees in a little warehouse in Watertown, Massachusetts. It has grown to a $15 million wholesale distribution company with eighty employees. While hunting for a new site for the company, which had outgrown its old facility, its dynamic president "drove around for days" with his wife and son, looking at lots. When they saw this land, he immediately visualized the new building standing near the grassy bank of a cleaned-up canal. His dream has come true. Thank you, John!
To see this new restoration of a portion of the Middlesex Canal, drive from the mill area in North Billerica east on Rogers Street to its end at High Street. Turn left (north) on High Street, and go to its temporary end at the railroad (the bridge over the tracks is closed at this time but is being rebuilt). The Quality Paper Company, beside the Middlesex Canal, will be on your left.
Middlesex Canal in Billerica, West of High Street
The following is a 1793 press report of a preliminary route survey of the Middlesex Canal by Loammi Baldwin and others. The survey appeared in the Boston newspaper "Independent and Universal" by the Adams and Larkin Press at their Boston printing office, opposite the Court house. (From the Middlesex Canal Association Archives at the University of Lowell's Special Collection Library.)
One of the best remaining sections of the Middlesex Canal is the portion given to the MCA several years ago by Stanley Webber and his daughter Julia Fielding. It extends 3/4 of a mile northward from the Wilmington Town Forest, past Butters' Row to Patches Pond.
A stroll along the towpath in this largely unspoiled wooded area has been a lovely experience in any season of the year. Unfortunately developers' house lots are now encroaching on the westerly border of our narrow canal property for much of the length from Butters' Row to Patches Pond. The profound impact of this suburban development on our quiet canal setting is certainly regrettable but probably inevitable with our increasing population and constantly rising land values.
But not inevitable is the destruction of the towpath and the serenity of this portion of our historic canal by dirt bikes. Despite signs, boulders to block the entrances and police cooperation, dirt bikes and other motorized vehicles continue to illegally drive along our property causing berm and towpath erosion and generating ear-splitting noise pollution. We hope that members of our Association and others will enjoy will enjoy walking along this beautiful section of the canal and will take the trouble to reprimand any trail bike violators they encounter and also notify the police. Meanwhile we will continue to replace "No Trail Bike" signs and will attempt to better block entrances to the path.
DATE: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1986
TIME: 2:00 P. M.
PLACE: Lowell Elks Lodge (Old Ferry Road - Off Route 113 - Pawtucket Blvd.)
1) Old slides of the Middlesex Canal will be shown.
2) Refreshments and sociability. Invite your friends.
D I R E C T I O N S
1) From Route 3 (North) exit at Chelmsford Drum Hill and get on Westford Street heading East. Wood Street (North) is presently closed due to construction. Follow all "Rourke Bridge" detour signs, finally crossing this bridge which spans the Merrimack River. Old Ferry Road is the next RIGHT at the Pub Dennis Restaurant. The Elks Club is on RIGHT just around the bend.
2) From I-495 (South) - Take Lowell Connector to Exit 4 (Industrial Avenue). Go under connector overpass and forward passing Wang Tower (on left). Continue thru traffic lights (Stevens Street). About one mile, turn LEFT onto WESTFORD STREET (Route 3-A) opposite Cumberland Farms store. Watch for 3-A sign one mile. Follow all "Rourke Bridge" detour signs to cross Merrimack River.