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Historic leaves

Vol. II. October, 1903. no. 3.

Historical Sketch of the old Middlesex Canal.

By Herbert Pierce Yeaton.

Navigation on the Merrimac River.

the Canals of the Merrimac River had their day and active existence in the first half of the last century. They have been referred to as the earliest step towards a solution of the problem of cheap transportation between Boston and the northern country; but perhaps they may be more properly classed as the second step in that direction, the turnpikes having been in the field.

James Sullivan and his associates, the original projectors of the canal system, undoubtedly had in mind, not only to connect Boston with the Merrimac River country, but also to extend their canals from the Merrimac to the Connecticut River, and from the Connecticut River to Lake Champlain, and through its outlet to the St. Lawrence, thus bringing Boston into island water communication with Montreal and the lower Canada.

The project was too vast, and the physical obstacles too formidable to admit of full consummation, and their labors resulted only in uniting by navigable water the capitals of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, covering a distance of about eighty-five miles.

The Middlesex Canal, twenty-seven miles long, from Boston to the Merrimac River at what is now known as Middlesex Village, about two miles above Lowell, was the first constructed. The work on this was commenced in 1794, and completed and opened for public use in 1803. Following the construction of the Middlesex Canal came the requisite work to render the

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