planned it would not have been in this quarter at all, as its southern end would have been at the upper end of Medford pond, as it was then called.
To modern engineering, a mile of serpentine, shallow river would not be the serious obstruction it was then.
So, contrary to the thought of the Medford
promoters, the waterway was continued five miles further to Charlestown mill-pond, requiring the ‘Branch canal
,’ constructed by another corporation, to connect with the river below Main street.
Ten years had elapsed since Governor Hancock
signed its charter (so much of an undertaking was it) when the thirty-foot ditch, up-hill from the Merrimack
(Chumpsford they called it then) and down-hill from Billerica
to the Charles
, was completed.
Then the water of Concord river
was turned into it, and for fifty years laden boats passed to and fro. Rafts of timber from the forests of New Hampshire
, oak timber to the Medford
ship-yards, granite from Chelmsford
, the great columns of the ‘long market’ in Boston
, with country produce of various kinds, floated quietly onward to their destination on its placid waters, which, like a silver ribbon, glinted in the sunshine as seen from the hill-tops.
By this waterway not only the inland Middlesex
towns, but those of New Hampshire
, went ‘down to the sea in ships’ from as far north as Concord
In 1812 what is now a part of the busy city of Manchester
sent its first boat to Boston
, which was hailed with interest all along the line as well as at its arrival.
It had a three mile journey overland prior to its launching in the Merrimack
at Squog village, with forty yokes of oxen for motive power.
It could lazily float down the river's current, and two horses harnessed tandem took it more quickly and were all the power needed on the canal.
Those were busy, but quiet days in this other corner of Medford and Charlestown. The shouts of the boatmen and the sound of the signal-horn, as the locks were approached were all that broke the silence of the retired spot.
But people travelled on the canal too. Read what our