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[51] loaded with salt, lime, cement, plaster, hardware, leather, liquors, iron, glass, grindstones, cordage, paints, oils and all the infinite variety of merchandise required by country merchants formerly classed under the general terms of ‘Dry West India goods.’

The construction of these canals was a great undertaking in that day. Boston was a town of only about 20,000. Neither Lowell nor Manchester had been commenced, and Nashua was a small place without manufacturing, and Concord was a country village.

The Merrimac Canals were blotted out by the railroad. The opening of the Lowell road in 1835, to Nashua in 1838, and to Concord in 1842, were successive steps of destruction to the whole system of river navigation, and culminated in the total abandonment of the canal soon after the Concord railroad was put in operation.

A hardy race of boatmen, pilots, and raftsmen—men of uncommon strength and endurance, skilled in their calling, but unfamiliar with other labors—were suddenly thrown out of employment. The wooden dams and locks went to decay, the embankments were cut and plowed down, and successive spring freshets have hurled their icy batteries against the stone abutments and lock walls until they are nearly obliterated, and the next generation will not know of them.

The Middlesex Canal.

The observant traveler on the Boston & Lowell Railroad, now the Southern Division of the Boston & Maine, between Woburn and Billerica, may see a broad ditch filled with a sluggish stream of water. He is told, perhaps, that this was once a portion of the Old Middlesex Canal; with the words come a swift vision of a silvery ribbon of water lying between cultivated meadows and bordered by velvety lawns and shaded woodland. On its bosom he sees the canal-boat, moving forward with easy, quiet dignity, appropriate to the time when leisure was still allowable. The vision is quickly dispelled by the rush and roar of the train sweeping on to its destination, as the canal itself was obliterated by the growth of steam power. It may, perhaps, help

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