Published by the Middlesex Canal Association
Billerica, Massachusetts

Vol. 2, No. 2
September, 1964


    In accordance with the By-laws, the Annual Meeting of the Middlesex Canal Association, Incorporated, will take place at 2:00 P.M. on October 3, 1964, in and around Baldwin Green, North Woburn, Massachusetts, (near the intersection of Routes 38 and 128).

    We will meet in the little square around the statue of Colonel Baldwin at 2:00 P.M., and will have the opportunity to see the Baldwin Mansion, the 1790 House, the Rumford House and the Thompson houses on Elm Street, in addition to inspecting a well-preserved section of the Canal.

    A short business meeting, including the election of officers as required by the General Laws for corporations, will take place either outdoors or in one of the houses.

    Finally, there will be a short talk about the buildings we will have seen and about Loammi Baldwin, chief engineer of the Canal and his friend, Benjamin Thompson, (Count Rumford) and Samuel Thompson, the surveyor - all of whom hailed from this section of North Woburn.

    After light refreshments, we will adjourn in time for any who are interested to travel back to Billerica to see the Museum displays.


    The past year has brought many events affecting the Canal Association, some good and some bad. Since the last annual meeting, the following have taken place:

    1. As authorized by the last annual meeting, the Directors made an offer to the Boston and Maine Railroad for the purchase of a section of the Canal. This offer was made in October, shortly after the 1963 annual meeting. To date, despite many follow-ups, we have received no word (either affirmative or negative) from the Railroad.

    2. On May 27, 1964, our charter as a non-profit corporation came through signed by the Governor and Secretary of State. We are now fully incorporated and can hold title to real estate. Steps are under way to get official recognition from the Internal Revenue Service as an organization, gifts to which are tax deductible.

    3. More and more sections of the Middlesex Canal are disappearing almost daily. At the Billerica 1964 town meeting, proposals to build a fire station and a veterans' club in the Canal were voted down. But since the first of the year, the only remaining basin along the route of the Canal - on the Wilmington side of the Shawsheen Aqueduct - has been leveled and a housing development has already replaced it. A half-dozen single houses have been built in other sections of the Canal in Billerica and Wilmington. It is therefore all the more pressing to obtain and save those sections that still remain intact. It is also essential to interest the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Historic Sites Commission of the National Parks Service in our project, for in the final analysis, it will require sympathetic encouragement (and protection) from the State or Federal government to enable us to complete the project. A motion will be made at the annual meeting to authorize and direct the Board of Directors to apply for the designation of a Massachusetts "Historic Site." If the property is so designated, it will be protected and identified by a marker issued by the Commonwealth.

    4. Finally, the best news is that Mr. Frank T. Dignon of Salem Road, Billerica, has generously donated to us a strip of the Canal running from Brown Street westerly through his land - a strip 50 feet wide and almost 2000 feet long. This gift is a memorial to his late wife, Doris Hopkinson Dignon, whose family owned the entire area in East Billerica, having acquired the rights of the Canal Proprietors to the entire section of the Canal from the Shawsheen River to Brown Street and beyond. We are extremely grateful to Mr. Dignon for this, the most important section which we have yet acquired. A dedication ceremony is being planned to take place at a later date.

    Finally, your Board of Directors is extremely pleased by the continuing growth of the Association, and grateful for your interest and enthusiasm which will eventually make it possible to realize our dream of an historical park, with walking paths and barge rides. Please continue your attendance and assistance.

Respectfully submitted,

Scale Model of Maple Meadow Brook Aqueduct by Christopher Mills, B.S.A., Troop 55, Billerica.

    A local Boy Scout, Christopher Mills, has just completed the outstanding scale model (pictured above) of the Maple Meadow Brook aqueduct of the Middlesex Canal ' The scale is the same as that of Fred Lawson's boat and barge, and all will be on display at the Museum during the Annual Meeting.

    Those who have not already seen the remains of Maple Meadow Brook Aqueduct may be interested in locating it in the Town Ball Park in Wilmington, on Route 38, immediately south of the railroad overpass. Those who have seen it will immediately recognize the stone part of this excellent model as the existing stone work.

    And all will want to be sure to see the model which will, we hope, be loaned to the Museum for an extended exhibition. Congratulations to young Chris Mills, and carry on the good work!


    Among the recent donations for the Museum is a steering oar from one of the local boats loaned by Professor Gilbert R. Merrill of Lowell Technological Institute.... 1964 dues are due and payable forthwith. You can help the Association by remitting before you are billed.... Your editor is getting worried about material for future issues. Interesting articles are urgently solicited... You will notice the new name of the magazine, selected by the Board of Directors, from among a dozen entries. Thanks to all those who submitted suggestions.


    Whereas James Sullivan Esqr. and others have petitioned to be incorporated for the purpose of cutting a Canal from the waters of Merrimack River into the waters of Medford River; And whereas it is represented that sundry persons are ready to raise funds sufficient for the purpose of opening the same Canal;

    Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled that the said James Sullivan, Oliver Prescott, James Winthrop, Loami Baldwin, Benjamin Hall, Jonathan Porter, Andrew Hall, Ebenezer Hall, Samuel Tufts junior, Aaron Brown, Willis Hall, Samuel Swan junr. & Ebenezer Hall junr. their Associates and Successors are hereby incorporated and shall be a Corporation forever under the name of the Proprietors of the Middlesex Canal and by that name may sue and prosecute, and be sued and prosecuted to final judgment and execution, and shall be, and hereby are vested with all the powers and privileges which are by Law incident to Corporations of a similar nature.

    And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said Proprietors or any three of them may make their application to, any Justice of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, requesting him to call a meeting of the said Proprietors to be holden at some convenient place within the Town of Medford in the same County, whereupon such justice is hereby impowered to issue his Warrant to one of said Proprietors directing him to warn and notify said Proprietors to meet at such time and place in said Town of Medford as he shall therein direct, to agree on such method as may be thought proper for calling meetings of said Proprietors for the future and to do and transact such matters and things relating to the said Propriety as shall be expressed in the Warrant, and the Proprietor to whom such Warrant shall be directed shall give notice to said Proprietors by causing the same or the substance thereof to be published in one of the Boston News papers fourteen days before the holding of said meeting and make return thereof under his hand to the same meeting to be lodged with the Clerk that shall be then and there chosen. And the said Proprietors may at the same or any other legal meeting choose a Clerk, Treasurer and other officer or officers of the corporation that they may deem necessary, and also may choose a Committee for ordering and regulating the Business and affairs of the said Corporation; and every Proprietor shall have a right to vote in the Proprietary meetings according to his share and interest in person or by representation in the following ratio; vizt. From one hundred to three hundred dollars inclusive there shall be allowed one vote; from (the) three hundred and one to six hundred dollars inclusive shall be allowed one vote more, and for every thousand above one thousand shall be allowed one vote more. Provided no one Proprietor shall have more than twenty votes; all representations to be proved in writing signed by the person making the same, by special appointment which shall be filed with and recorded by the Clerk, and this act and all rules, regulations and votes of the said Corporation, shall be fairly and truly recorded by the said Clerk in a book or books for that purpose to be provided and kept. Provided, that whereas it may be necessary in the prosecution of the foregoing business, that the property of private persons may (as in the case of high ways) be appropriated for the public use, in order that no person may be damaged by the digging and cutting canals through his land, by removing mills or mill dams, diverting water courses or flowing his land by the Proprietors aforesaid without receiving full and adequate compensation therefor; Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid that in all cases where any person shall be damaged in his property, by the said Proprietors for the purposes aforesaid in manner as is above expressed, or in any other way, & the proprietors aforesaid do not within twenty days after being requested thereto, make or tender reasonable satisfaction to the acceptance of the person damaged by them as aforesaid, the person so damaged may apply to the Court of the General Sessions of the peace for the County in which the damage shall have been sustained to have a Committee appointed by said Court at his own expense to estimate the damage so done and the said Court are hereby authorized and empowered by warrant under the seal thereof upon such application made, if within one year from the time of the damage done as aforesaid to appoint a Committee of five disinterested freeholders in the same County to estimate the damages; which Committee shall give seasonable notice to the persons interested and to the Clerk of the proprietors aforesaid of the time and place of their meeting and they shall be under oath to perform said service according to their best skill and judgment; which having done they or the major part of them shall make return thereof under their hands and seals, to the next Court of General Sessions of the Peace to be holden in said County after the same service is performed, to the end that the same may be accepted allowed and recorded; and the Committee so empowered are required to estimate the said damage and make return thereof as aforesaid; and if the estimate of the Committee be accepted by the Court, the Clerk of the Court is hereby authorized and directed on application therefor to issue an execution against the property only of the corporation, or of any individual belonging thereto, for the sum so adjudged in damages, provided the same is not paid within twenty days after the acceptance of said report, and likewise for the cost of the said Committee, and fees of the Court, both to be allowed by the Court, provided the sum of damages estimated by the Committee exceed the sum of damages so tendered; But in case the Proprietors actually tendered to the person complaining before the complaint was exhibited a sum as great as that allowed by the Court in damages then nothing to be included in the execution for costs of Committee or Court; The execution to be issued by the Clerk of the Court to be in the same terms, mutatis mutandis, and returnable in the same time as though judgment had been rendered against said Corporation for a like sum in damages on process in the Court of Common Pleas; and if any person find himself aggrieved by the doings of said Committee, in estimating damages, he may apply to said Court of General Sessions of the Peace, provided such application be made to the same Court at the next Session thereof in the same County after the acceptance of such return; and said Court is empowered to hear and finally determine the same by a jury under Oath to be summoned by the Sheriff or his Deputy for that purpose if the person complaining desires the same or by a Committee if the person complaining and the proprietors can agree thereon. And if the jury or Committee agreed on as aforesaid, who are to be under Oath, shall not increase the sum of damages, the person complaining shall be at the cost arising on such complaint, to be taxed against him by the said Court, otherwise such cost and increase of damages shall be paid by the Proprietors and execution to issue therefor as aforesaid expressed. And it shall be the duty of such Committee or Jury on application of either of the parties, and reasonable notice given to all persons interested, to determine where and how many Bridges shall be made and maintained, by said proprietors over the Canal aforesaid, and how the same shall be constructed and what damages shall be paid by the proprietors for neglecting to make and maintain such Bridges; and the report of such Committee, or verdict of such Jury being returned into the same Court and being allowed and recorded shall be a sufficient bar against any action brought for damages aforesaid, saving only that where the sum of damages is not estimated at a sum in gross for the full satisfaction thereof but a yearly sum is assessed, in such case the complainant shall be intitled to an action of debt for the recovery of the same so often as the same becomes due, during the continuance of the damage done or suffered as aforesaid, and also for the recovery of the damages, for neglecting to make and maintain the Bridges as often as the same is demandable. Provided that no part of the waters of Shawshene river shall be diverted from their natural course for the purpose aforesaid; & that no dwelling house shall be removed or water course turned or altered whereon any Mill is erected so as to injure such Mill without license therefor first had and obtained from the Court of General Sessions of the Peace of the County in which such house may stand or through which such water course may pass: And the said Court of Session on application made to them by the said proprietors shall observe the same rules as are prescribed by Law when application is made to them for granting a public highway. Provided also that the waters of Merimack River shall not be so diverted from their natural course as to impede or any way interrupt the water carriage down the Merrimack River to the mouth thereof.

    And be it further, enacted That if any person(s) or persons shall wilfully, maliciously and contrary to Law take up, remove, beat down, dig under or otherwise damnify any dam, canal or Lock or part thereof designed for the purposes aforesaid, damnify, carry away or set afloat to be carried away any boards, plank, joist or other timber or materials used or to be used in or about said works or shall be aiding or assisting in any of the trespasses aforesaid, he shall for every such offence forfeit and pay to the proprietors aforesaid treble such damages as the said Proprietors shall to the Justice or Court and Jury before whom the trial shall be, make appear that they have sustained by means of the same trespass, to be sued for & recovered in any Court proper to try the same and such Offender or offenders shall be liable to presentment by the Grand Inquest for said County of Middlesex for any offence or offences against this law, & on conviction thereof on such presentment before the Court of General Sessions of the peace for said County, or before the Supreme Judicial Court, shall be liable to pay a fine to the use of the Commonwealth of not more than twenty pounds nor less than five pounds or be imprisoned for a term not more than three months nor less than thirty days, at the discretion of the Court before whom the conviction shall be.

    And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the proprietors aforesaid be, and they hereby are authorized and empowered to purchase & hold to them and their successors forever so much land P, real estate as may be necessary for the purposes aforesaid, not exceeding the Value of five thousand pounds.

    And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that for the purposes of re-imbursing the said proprietors the money by them expended or to be expended in building and supporting the dams, canals and locks and clearing the passages necessary for the purposes aforesaid, a toll be and is hereby granted and established for the sole benefit of the proprietors according to the rates following; viz; For every ton weight that shall be transported in boats or other Vessels through the said Canal between the Bridge in Medford & Merrimack River the sum of four pence for each mile for all masts, timber & lumber floated on raft or otherwise through the same Canal the sum of four pence a ton for each mile.

    And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, that there shall be toll gatherers and others to attend all Locks on said Canal in the day time and on the same Canal at suitable places, who shall give constant attendance at their respective stations during the whole of the season for boats & rafts to pass, & on the toll being paid, shall immediately permit passengers with their property to pass the said Locks and Canal: And the said toll shall commence on said Canal, as soon as the same or any part thereof shall be compleated, & shall continue forever: Provided that when forty years from the first opening thereof are expired, the General Court from thence forward may regulate the rate of toll, and the same shall be collected in such manner as shall be prescribed to the said Corporation.

    And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if the proprietors aforesaid shall refuse or neglect for the space of ten years after the passing this Act to build and compleat such Canal so as to be passable in manner as aforesaid then this Act so far as it respects the same shall be void and of no effect.


    In view of our recent incorporation, we thought it would be interesting to print the original charter of the Middlesex Canal as voted by the Legislature and approved by Governor John Hancock shortly before he died in office. The current charter, although perfectly legal, is no literary masterpiece and so is not reproduced. Ed.


Saturday, September 26 - Canal Hike, jointly sponsored by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Billerica Historical Society, Troop 55, B.S.A., and the Canal Association.
    Any members who are interested in walking the Canal are invited to meet at 1:00 P.M. at the Talbot Mills, North Billerica, near the Concord River mill dam. The hike will go as far as the Shawsheen River Aqueduct.

Saturday, October 3 - Annual meeting - See notice elsewhere in this issue.

Middlesex Canal Association P. 0. Box 593 Billerica, Massachusetts

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