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[p. 52] Billerica by an ascent of one hundred and four feet, then descending twenty-six feet, it connected with the Merrimack, and was twenty-seven miles in length.

As three and one-half miles per hour was the fastest time made by the passenger boats, and twenty locks had to be passed through, it was an all day journey from Lowell to Boston. Besides Lowell was nearly two miles distant from the terminal at Chelmsford, and was nonexistent, and not even dreamed of, when the canal was opened in 1803.

Just before this a canal had been opened for the passage of boats and rafts around the Pawtucket Falls of the Merrimack, but the opening of the Middlesex Canal as an inland and more direct route to Boston had proved somewhat disastrous to the interests of the ‘Proprietors of Locks and Canals,’ as the Pawtucket Canal Company was styled.

Its disappointments, however, were destined to come to an end. Some mill owners on the Charles river at Waltham were seeking along the banks of the Shawsheen for additional power and new facilities, when one, Ezra Worthen, remarked, ‘If they want water power, why don't they buy the Pawtucket Canal and get the whole force of Merrimack river?’

Strange it was that such a scheme had not dawned on people's thought sooner, and that the Merrimack had flowed on unharnessed, while the Pawtucket Canal had only served for a passage around the Falls for twenty-five years. A word to the wise was sufficient, and quietly the land along the river was acquired, then factories built and the town of Lowell came into existence, with its many and varied industries.

Much had been expected from the experiments with steam power on the canal and river, and a factory was established in Medford for the building of steamboat engines, but success was not to be in dragging ‘the slow barge’ for two-thirds of the year by daylight. The destiny lay along the way of the ‘rapid car,’ with every

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Ezra Worthen (1)
Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1)
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