many boats or lighters on the river, and the management of these boats or lighters gave employment to a hardy class of men called boatmen or lightermen.
The navigation of the Mistick river with this class of vessels was no easy task.
With sails, oars, poles, and the towline, assisted by the incoming and outgoing tide, did those hardworking men pursue their arduous employment.
The tortuous channel of the river winding through the marshes sometimes caused a journey of nearly half a mile, when in a straight line the distance to be travelled was only a few rods.
One particular curve in the river, near the foot of Foster court, by reason of the difficulties of its navigation was called Labor in Vain point.
For one hundred and thirty-one years several generations of boatmen labored almost in vain round this point.
The first successful attempt at straightening the river, and to remedy this obstruction to navigation, was made in the year 1761, when a number of the inhabitants of Medford
petitioned the Court
of General Sessions
of the Peace for a new highway across a point of salt marsh and flats in Medford
called Labor in Vain point.
The court appointed a committee to view the premises, and to report upon the necessity and convenience of the proposed highway.
The committee reported that a highway at the place above mentioned was both necessary and convenient, and the court thereupon appointed a new committee to lay out the way and to estimate the damage that might accrue to any person or persons in their property by the laying out of said way.
April 21, 1761, the committee reported as follows:
‘We the subscribers have viewed and laid out the highway therein set forth, with as much convenience to the public and with as little prejudice to private property as (in our judgment) can be, which highway is bounded westerly by the dividing line between Col. Isaac Royall
and Samuel Brooks
, and easterly ’