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[7] and sails. They were sometimes drawn with ropes by men who walked on the bank.

There was a ford across this stream at the Wear till 1748. The ford in the centre of Medford continued in use till 1639, and was about ten rods above the bridge. The Penny Ferry, where Malden Bridge now is, was established by Charlestown, April 2, 1640, and continued to September 28, 1787. There was, till recently, but one island in the river, and that is near the shore in Malden, at Moulton's Point, and is called “White Island.” Two have since been made; one by cutting through “Labor in Vain,” and the other by straightening the passage above the bridge.

The depth of the river is remarkable for one so narrow, and its freedom from sunken rocks and dangerous shoals more remarkable still. Its banks are generally very steep, showing that it becomes wider with age, if it changes at all. It has not probably changed its current much since our fathers first saw it; and the marshes through which it flows look to our eyes as they did to theirs. Few events of extraordinary interest have been witnessed upon its waters. The well-known curve in the bed of the river, near “the rock,” extending more than half a mile, made the passage round it so difficult, especially with sails, that it soon received the name of Labor in Vain. It often became necessary for men to drag boats round a part of this narrow strip of land, by means of ropes stretched to the shore. In 1761, the inhabitants of Medford proposed to cut a canal across this peninsula; and they voted to do it, if it could be done by subscription! The expense was found to fall upon so few that the plan failed. Within our day it has been accomplished.

In the revolutionary war, our river was occasionally a resort for safety. August 6, 1775, Mr. Nowell says: “This day, skirmishing up Mistick River. Several soldiers brought over here (Boston) wounded. The house at Penny Ferry, Malden side, burnt.” August 13th he says: “Several Gondaloes sailed up Mistick River, upon which the Provincials (Medford) and they had a skirmish; many shots were exchanged, but nothing decisive.”

Lightering had become so extensive a business as to need every facility; and in April, 1797, the town chose a Committee to examine the bed and banks of the river; and, if they found that any clearing was necessary, they were empowered to do it.

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