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[56] have given a handsome interest on the original cost. These were palmy days. In 1832 the canal people declared a dividend of $22, and from 1834 to 1837, inclusive, a yearly dividend of $30. The year the road went into operation, in 1835, the receipts of the canal were reduced one-third, and when the Nashua & Lowell road went into operation in 1838, they were reduced another third, and up to the year 1843 they were not sufficient to cover the expenditures for repairs and current expenses. The future had a gloomy prospect.

As the enterprise had the confidence of the business community, money for prosecuting the work had been procured with comparative ease. The stock was divided into 800 shares, and among the original holders appear the names of Ebenezer and Dudley Hall, Oliver Wendell, John Adams, of Quincy, Peter Brooks, of Medford, and Andrew Craigie, of Cambridge. The stock had steadily advanced from $25 per share in the fall of 1794 to $473 per share in 1803, the year after the canal was opened, and touching $500 in 1804. Then a decline set in, a few dollars at a time, until 1816, when its market value was $300 per share, with few takers, although the canal was in successful operation; and in 1814 the obstructions in the Merrimac River had been remedied so that canal boats locking into the river at Chelmsford had been poled up the stream as far as Concord, New Hampshire.

Firewood and lumber always formed a very considerable item in the business of the canal. The Navy Yard at Charlestown and the ship yards on the Mystic River for many years relied on the canal for the greater part of the timber used in ship-building, and work was sometimes seriously retarded by low water in the Merrimac, which interfered with transportation. The supply of oak and pine about Lake Winnepesaukee and along the Merrimac River and its tributaries was thought to be practically inexhaustible. In the opinion of Daniel Webster, the value of this timber had been increased $5,000,000 by the canal. Granite from Tyngsboro and agricultural products from a great extent of fertile country found their way along this channel to Boston, while the return boats supplied taverns and country stores with their annual stock of goods.

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