An eighteenth century enterprise.

by Moses Whitcher Mann.
[Read before the Medford Historical Society, December 15, 1902.]

THE new twentieth century is replete with great enter rises, the nineteenth far exceeded its predecessors in inventions of utility, while the closing of the eighteenth marked the establishment of a new national government in whose territory would be found room abundant for new enterprises and ideas.

One of the earliest of these, conceded to have originated with James Sullivan, afterward governor of Massachusetts, was the great enterprise of its time, the Middlesex Canal. So comprehensive was the idea of Judge Sullivan, that fully completed, it would have resulted in an inland waterway from Boston to Canada. Its charter was granted by the General Court, June 22, 1793, and immediately received the signature of the governor, John Hancock and the corporators organized by the choice of James Sullivan for President, and Col. Loammi Baldwin of Woburn and Gen. John Brooks of Medford as vice-presidents, while several other Medford men served its interests as directors. In these later years it has been rather facetiously remarked that in the case of railroads, ground is broken with much ceremony, and that afterward the stockholders are broken without ceremony. So in the case of the canal, Col. Baldwin removed (at Billerica) the first turf, when the work of excavation actually commenced nearly sixteen months after the granting of the charter, the intervening time [p. 2] having been occupied in acquiring title to the land and surveying in the route. Samuel Thompson of Woburn made the preliminary survey, and the work was under the charge of Col. Baldwin, whose interest the enterprise only ceased with his life in 1808. During work in Wilmington, was discovered the tree from which the famous Baldwin apple originated. Mr. Thompson, who was a soldier of the French War, and whose diary is replete with interest, seems to have labored under a disadvantage, but his work led up to a complete survey by an expert survey, Samuel Weston. He found that the Merrimack River at Chelmsford was lower than the highest point the canal would traverse, instead of higher, as was at first supposed; so that other water than that of the Merrimack must fill the canal in its course through the Middlesex towns to the Charles, in Charlestown. Eleven streams of varying size flowed across, and all but one below its course. The Concord River at North Billerica crossed it at grade and being at its highest level, would supply it in either direction with water. Here, in the seventeenth century, a mill was erected and thither came the colonists with their corn to be ground. Later woolen mills were established, but the ancient terms of the grant required the maintenance of the grist mill; which requirement the canal company carried out, strengthening and making tighter the dam in 1798, and thirty years later, building the present stone dam. This still holds the flood of water, and supplies power to the great factories of the Talbot and the Faulkner companies.

Over all the other streams the canal had to be carried and due regard paid to their changeful moods. A brook that in summer is insignificant, in spring may assume threatening proportions, or carry destruction in its track. Some were but slightly lower; while the Shawsheen was spanned by a wooden aqueduct one hundred and thirtyseven feet long, elevated thirty feet above its current. While the aqueducts were costly, yet the long stretches [p. 3] of meadow land the canal had to cross were extremely treacherous and swallowed up a vast amount of filling ere the course of the canal was secure. In some intervals they had to be filled upwards of one hundred feet in width to a depth of ten feet to form the canal bed before the embankments were made. This difficulty overcome and Maple Meadow Brook (the source of Ipswich River) crossed, a loop, called the Ox-bow, had to be made around a hill.

Much of the work was through a sandy soil, but in various places its course could not avoid ledges of solid rock. These taxed the effort and patience of the laborers, who were mostly native born, as emigration from Ireland, Italy and Hungary was then but slight. The shore of Medford Pond, or, as it is now termed, Mystic Lake, was originally intended for the southern terminus, but the canal was built six miles further, and ended at the Charlestown mill-pond, special legislation authorizing the extension. But for this, the remaining distance would have been covered by the pond and Mystic, or, as then called, Medford River. Whether the shallowness of the upper river, or its serpentine course caused the continuation of the artificial channel is unknown.

Briefly described, the canal was a ditch thirty feet wide and four feet deep below its banks. Sometimes these were below the natural surface of the ground, but in many places, artificial embankments were required to preserve the various levels, of which there were eight. Between these latter, which varied from one to six miles in length, sixteen locks, like huge steps, were built, overcoming a rise of one hundred and four feet from tide water at Charlestown, to the Concord at Billerica, and a descent of twenty-six feet to the Merrimack at Chelmsford. Five others provided entrance into these rivers, and also into the Mystic at Medford, while suitable waste weirs were placed contiguous to natural water courses. Filling this ditch to within a foot of the embankment [p. 4] which made the tow path, the fresh waters of the Concord floated the numerous boats, laden with merchandise from the north country for over forty years; and at the southern terminus mingled with the salt tides of old ocean, twenty-seven miles from its entrance into the Merrimack. The charter gave the directors power to lay assessments upon the stockholders. This from time to time, as the work progressed, was done, until over a half million dollars were expended in its construction, which in the spring of 1802 was so far advanced as to allow the admission of water as far as Wilmington, once known as the ‘Land of Nod,’ and on the fifth of July (Independence Day fell on Sunday that year), still further, to Woburn. The Columbian Centinel of that week gave the following—

On Monday last, water was admitted to the Middlesex Canal, as far as Woburn meeting-house. More than one hundred and twenty ladies and gentlemen embarked upon its waters. Although the party was numerous, the construction of the boat was such that the accommodations were convenient. This new mode of passing through a country diversified by almost every variety of landscape, produces effects the most pleasing and agreeable.

The proprietors deserve the highest praise for their enterprise. The choice of a superintendent demands commendation. Unwilling to acknowledge dependence upon any nation or any state, they reposed confidence in a citizen of their own. His works declare his praise. . . .Even Massachusetts, a state already proud in science, will in some future age feel an increase of pride to acknowledge her son.

This was followed by sixteen lines of verse, written after the style of Virgil, by a Dr. Darwin (some years deceased), in which Col. Baldwin's name was substituted. It began:—

On Baldwin's infant cradle science smiled,

closing with

And plenty, arts, and commerce freight the waves,

[p. 5]

Where the ‘party numerous’ embarked, or how extended a tour of inspection they made, we are not informed, but evidently there were no cases of seasickness, and the initial voyage thus mentioned was part of the patriotic observance of the day. A year later, when the canal was completed, Col. Baldwin, at his residence in North Woburn (which still remains in excellent condition), entertained handsomely at a jubilee, held in honor of the event. Ten years had elapsed since Judge Sullivan had broached the design of the canal to Col. Baldwin, then the sheriff of the county, and the Middlesex Canal was completed and ready for business, the first of its kind in America, the great enterprise of the time, but to Sullivan's scheme the Merrimack River was expected to contribute.

It is well to remember just here, that Lowell, Lawrence, Nashua and Manchester were then places still to be, and that passage up the Merrimack was interrupted by the falls of Wicassee, Bow, Isle Hooksett, and Amoskeag. A company, called the ‘Merrimack Boating Co.,’ was formed, closely allied to the ‘Proprietors of Middlesex Canal,’ to work the river, while canals and locks were constructed around the various falls, notably Blodgett's Canal at Amoskeag. Allusion has been made to the ‘breaking ground with ceremony.’ In the construction of these locks and canals, a necessity if the capital of New Hampshire was to be reached, the canal stockholders realized the unceremonious breaking process also alluded to.

Over $80,000 was paid by the Middlesex to assist in their construction, while the patient stockholders awaited their dividends. Five-eighths of this went into work at Amoskeag, and made way for the city of Manchester, while $12,000 was expended at Wicassee, which work was obliterated when, some years later, the dam at Pawtucket Falls was built, and the city of Lowell sprang into being.

Col. Baldwin was the first superintendent and agent of the canal, and his duties were increased by the action [p. 6] of the General Court, which authorized the sale in Massachusetts of tickets of the Amoskeag Canal Lottery, but exercised a thrifty oversight by directing that the money should be applied by Col. Baldwin.

A century ago a favorite method of raising money for public enterprises was by lottery, and Amoskeag Canal was no exception, as seen by reference to the newspapers of the time.

Incidentally it may be stated that no other class of advertisements were written so pointedly as these, of which the following are samples:—

Merchants, Mechanics, Traders! Notice is hereby given, To all perfons who are in the habit of doing good, That a little sweet oil is immediately wanted on Amofkeag Canal, in order to make the wheels flide glib and complete the fame—as Boston folks are longing to have it finifhed, it would be well for them to apply to S. Gilbert, Centinel Office, State Street, who can afsist them by felling Tickets in the 6th Clafs of faid Canal Lottery at two dollars each, with the profpect of gaining eight thousand dollars.

Reader, fail not (if you pleafe) to apply before the 24th inft. when this 6th Clafs commences drawing. June 11th.

Ye that are in the habit of drawing blanks remember This.


This is the season of wants.
Misers want to add to their store.
Old maids want to get married.
Old bachelors want good chances.
Young folks want enjoyment.
Merchants want to flourish.
Mechanics want constant employ.
Farmers want high prices for their produce.
Politicians want “bones to knaw.”
Lawyers want clients.
All classes want money.

[p. 7]

The wheels of Amofkeag Lottery are on the trot and they want to gallup. Tickets and quarters warranted undrawn, to be had of S. Gilbert, Centinel Office. It ought to be mentioned that many have bought, with the noble view of aiding the canal.

“Go thou and do likewife.”
Nov. 14th.

From the foregoing extracts it seems that people had ‘wheels,’ even in that time; but the growth of cities and towns of the Merrimack valley was assured by the building of these locks and canals, thus bringing the vast power of the river to turn the legitimate wheels of industry, even though assisted by these fortuitous ‘wheels’ of chance.

Such were the difficulties with which this eighteenth century enterprise had to contend in the early years of its nineteenth century history. Nor were these all. With the exception of the guard locks at Billerica and Chelmsford, which, of hammered granite, were equalled by nothing then in our country, the various locks and aqueducts were constructed of wood, and necessarily perishable. The aqueduct at Shawsheen river was renewed in 1817, at an expense of $7,646.86 (about one-fourth of the net receipts of the previous year), and an additional loss entailed by the suspension of business for six weeks. When we recall that business was entirely cut off by the ice of winter, it will be readily seen that these were expensive repairs, and such repairs delayed the payment of dividends.

In the year 1808, both the president, who was then the governor of Massachusetts, and the agent, Col. Baldwin, died, and the outlook for the future of the canal was dark indeed. John Langdon Sullivan, the son of the governor, was appointed agent, and brought to its service the executive abilities and talents he possessed. Under his management the business and income of the canal increased, as the years passed on. On April 4, 1808, he issued a rigid code of ‘Rules and regulations.’ [p. 8] But two copies of these are now known to be in existence, one of which is in possession of the writer, kindly presented by Judge S. P. Hadley of Lowell (whose father was for years the agent at Chelmsford), and who was himself an employee of the canal. It has been said that ‘the genius of James Sullivan did not foresee the railway locomotive.’ Probably the idea of a railway was as foreign to the thought of John Sullivan as it was to that of his father, but he was alive to the need of more rapid transit, and of power other than that of horses and oxen. During the sixteen years that he had charge of the canal, he made many experiments, looking to the introduction of steam as a motive power thereon. The limit of speed had been fixed at one and one-half miles per hour for rafts, two and one-half for ‘luggage boats,’ while three miles was the limit at which the ‘passage boats’ might proceed.

Of these latter there were but two, and for a time only one was needed, so little did people journey a century ago. All boats were limited by the ‘Rules,’ to within a certain size, this made requisite by the locks, while the rafts of logs bound for the ship-yards of Medford, were towed in ‘bands’ and passed the locks singly.

Steam navigation had become an assured fact on the Hudson river in 1807, one year before Mr. Sullivan took charge of the canal, but years before the canal went into operation a steamboat was successfully operated upon the Connecticut river, and its owner and inventor was interviewed by Fulton, who, it seems, only made successful application of the inventions of John Fitch in Delaware and Samuel Morey in New Hampshire, assisted by the wealth of Livingston. Morey, to his dying day, complained bitterly of their treatment of him, saying that ‘the cusses had stolen his invention.’ Not despairing, however, he invented a new form of engine, for which he secured a patent. This was acquired by Sullivan, after his experience with ‘a heavy engine from Philadelphia,’ which he wrote ‘had a damaging effect upon the [p. 9] boats used upon the canal.’ Full of hope, Mr. Sullivan purchased the shops and water privilege at Medford, now within the bounds of Winchester. These were located on the Aberjona river opposite the present Parkway and just below the present Wedgemere station. He then entered upon the manufacture of steam engines, to use upon the canal and the Merrimack river. The writer finds no evidence of the construction of but one steam-boat; but of that has seen the receipted bill of one of the employees for his services, ‘1 day to Medford with steamboat $1.50,’ this on August 11, 1818.

In addition to this, it has been his privilege to converse with an aged lady, whose father's house adjoined the canal in Woburn, and who distinctly remembered the passage of the steamboat through the canal, and of the noise and smoke it made, this the more noticeable, as the canal passed through a deep cut and under the highway there. The writer has been acquainted with her for more than fifty years and her testimony is in the highest degree credible.

After various experimental voyages through the canal, Mr. Sullivan made the ascent of the Merrimack river in his steamboat, and reached Concord, N. H., on June 15, 1819. It must have been a gala day there, as also those following, for during his stay of a week, Mr. Sullivan exhibited his ‘steamboat Merrimack,’ and its capacity for service in various ways. Several passages were made to different points, towing loaded boats, and the General Court being in session, the members, with the governor and council, were treated to the novel experience, making the seven-mile trip up stream in one hour and fifteen minutes. On another trip, the guests were carried in two boats, with awnings spread and a band of music. Their number was two hundred and eleven, and they were towed by the steamboat.

We may imagine that the hopes of all interested in transit and trade ran high as these trips were made, and query why it was not continued successfully. The answer [p. 10] may be found in the fact that the ‘stern wheel,’ though ‘within the boat,’ created such a current in the canal as to endanger the embankments, and finally caused its disuse. Nor was the river more favorable, as sunken logs proved a continual menace, sometimes impaling boats and causing wrecks.

Mr. Sullivan believed in the use of printers' ink; for having made the successful passage to Concord and returned to Chelmsford, he immediately wrote an account of his doings to the Boston Advertiser, which published the same, and in whose editorial notice may be found a brief description of the boat and engine, which ‘worked under all the disadvantages of novelty.’

In 1824 Mr. Sullivan received an appointment from President Monroe on the Board of Internal Improvement, and went south to examine a route for a canal across the Alleghanies.

With his departure, no further effort seems to have been made to utilize the power of steam; but the new manager, Caleb Eddy, seems to have made the most of existing conditions. He added to the ‘Rules and Regulations’ a prohibition of the use of the Signal-horn upon the Sabbath while near any house of worship, and his administration was careful and thrifty. In 1831 the last debt was paid, and the dividends that for several years had been paid had increased to $30 per share, while numerous improvements had been made along the line, notably the rebuilding of aqueducts and enlarging of taverns. These latter were necessitated by the numerous locks, and by the suspension of travel, when the shades of night settled upon the placid waters of the canal.

Generally the lock tender was the tavern keeper, who, in the interval between the passage of boats, found time to cultivate a garden and care for his domestic animals. He had, however, to be on hand to answer the ‘signal horn,’ and repeat to his wife (who waited at the door) the boatmen's shout of ‘dinner for two,’ or ‘supper for [p. 11] four,’ as the case might be. By the time the boat arrived, the good woman would be ready for her guests, and ample justice would be done to the plain substantial fare. If it was dinner time, the boatmen would find on their return the boat passed through the lock, ready for a renewal of their trip. At supper time they must remain, unless the moonlight might serve to reach the next tavern. None other than the lock tender could pass the boats through, under penalty of $10, and a system of ‘passports,’ or way bills, that had to be endorsed at every lock, served to keep the tenders at their places, and prevent ‘imposition on the part of the boatmen.’

Among the incidental expenses of the canal was the ‘bounty’ (about two shillings each) paid for the killing of ‘musk ratts.’ Evidently the boys of those days profited thereby, as they could retain the skins of the ‘ratts.’ It has been intimated to the writer that not all for which the bounty was paid were trapped within prescribed limits; but let us trust that the boys were all honest, for how could the agent tell? Another expense that appears in the accounts is, ‘Rum found the men at the time of the freshet and on other disagreeable jobs, $1.50.’ While the demands of the ‘men’ were satisfied with this modest amount for ‘rum’ on special occasion, the ‘directors' party’ of the same year had a supply of $27 worth of ‘wine, lemons and sugar.’ The bill also had an extra charge for broken tumblers, but had a contra credit of over $14 for wine not used. From this we may infer that the ‘junket’ is not an altogether modern affair; but it is doubtful if the expense of those of the present is nearly as light, or if any material items of credit appear on the bills.

The wages paid the boatmen and laborers varied somewhat. For instance, one who ‘found’ himself, received $1.50 per day, but deducted from his bill a shilling each for meals had at the taverns. Others received from $17 to $21 per month and board. In the bills of such against the company appear charges of [p. 12] twelve and one-half cents per week for washing, and for ‘rations’ at five cents per day. What these ‘rations’ were (which one man charged as ‘allowance’) may be readily conjectured, and the fact the bills were approved and paid, throws some light on the custom of the time.

Tolls on merchandise down the Merrimack to Newburyport had to be prepaid, while those through the canal could be paid at the office in Charlestown, the goods being security for the same. During the earliest years the canal was being constructed, a canal was built around Pawtucket Falls at Chelmsford, and for twenty-five years was used for the purpose of navigation. Then some capitalists were induced to buy the same and utilize the power of the Merrimack it furnished; the result was the town, and soon the city, of Lowell. In 1831 Mr. Eddy was directed to survey a route for a branch canal from Billerica to the Hamilton Mills in Lowell, to save four miles and Pawtucket tolls. He reported the project feasible, but counselled delay. The reason is not hard to discover in the following letter to the corporation.

November 10, 1831.
gentlemen:—I am now laying out the route of the R. R. from Boston to Lowell. We must cross your canal once, and in some places pass so near as to take some of your land. Will you have the goodness to appoint some person or persons to make such arrangements as will be most advantageous to all parties.

I am, gentlemen, very respectfully,

Your obt. servant,

P. T. Jackson. Pres. B. & L. R. R.

The result of the conference thus suggested was the building of the embankment at West Medford, carrying the railway nine and one-half feet above the canal (when full), with abutments thirty-four feet apart, and an additional wall supporting the tow-path. During the early [p. 13] thirties the work on the railway progressed, the canal company, to quote Mr. Dame, ‘assisting in the preparation for its own obsequies,’ not only in the delivery of the stone ties on which the rails were laid, but in the transportation to Lowell of the two locomotives (Hercules and Stevenson), purchased in England.

There they were set up; and as thirty-three years before, the waters of the Concord flowed southward toward Boston, so did the first steam train take the same direction on June 24, 1835. In '38 the dividends of the canal dropped to $20 per share, but still hopeful, the managers kept the canal in order, and in '41 built, at a cost of $5,000, what remains today a monument in granite, the aqueduct at Shawsheen river. While we may wonder at such outlay under existing conditions, we can but admire the courage and faith in the enterprise the corporation had.

It seems that soon after Mr. Eddy took charge that he scented the coming danger, and in an early report said: ‘Railroads, the rivals of canals, are yet in a state of infancy. In the minds of many the infant will expand to a giant form and swallow canals and turnpikes.’

This was prophetic, but he seems to have recovered somewhat, by his report of the next year, possibly, by the necessity of repairs and the increase of business. At this time much money was expended within the bounds of Medford. The tavern at Landing No. 4 was enlarged to double its original size, a new lock was built, and the aqueduct across the river into what was then Charlestown, but now Somerville, was, with the exception of the abutments of boulders, entirely renewed. In other places such renewal suspended business for some weeks. Mr. Eddy's executive ability is seen in the fact that he had the material all upon the site before the season closed, the granite being boated from Tyngsborough, and the framing done at Billerica in 1827. Eight days sufficed to remove the timbers of the lock and aqueduct with the piling that supported the latter. All [p. 14] the iron was saved, and the wood sawed into four foot lengths, piled in lots, and sold at auction.

The old abutments of great boulders needed no repair. The wooden piling was replaced by three pieces of split granite, and the season being favorable, the work had progressed so rapidly that these neared completion in January. The total cost of the aqueduct and lock thus rebuilt was nearly $7,000. The stone was sunk into the river's bed, and so well did these men perform their work that no repairs were needed, when forty-five years later the Boston avenue bridge was built upon it and served the public for twenty-seven years. Those who may have witnessed its demolition and the construction of the graceful granite arch now spanning the river, and remember the difficulties then encountered, can readily see that without the aid of steam and modern appliances, that this was a work of no little magnitude and speaks eloquently of the men who did it.

The lock was situated just south of the present Arlington street, and at the time when the writer first saw it, the woodwork had been long removed and only the boulders that composed its walls remained. At the present, beneath the surface of Boston avenue, lie buried the foundation stones; a difficulty the workmen of the sewer and water department of these later years have to struggle with.

The tavern was located just north of the lock, and was built before the one at Wilmington, which was its counterpart. There was, however, on the spot an older building, which formed its ell, this shown by the difference in material and construction. The addition, made in 1830, was upon the front, and contained a large dining room, and across the entrance hall was the barroom, where the boatmen indulged in rum and molasses, popularly known as ‘black strap.’ Two noble elms shaded the house and were sacrificed in the building of the avenue in ‘73. In the spring of ‘89 the tavern was removed to the bank of the river, remodeled into tenements, and now stands at the end of Canal street. [p. 15]

With strengthened faith in the permanence of the canal, the company built during 1830 a new aqueduct across the Aberjona, then in Medford. The old wooden structure, one hundred and eighty feet long, that had been repeatedly repaired, was so narrow as to allow no boats to pass each other in its limits, often causing delay. The substantial manner in which it was built deserves more than a casual notice. Eight parallel walls, one hundred leet long, six feet high, and four feet thick, were built upon timber floors, or rafts, and sunk into the water, thus forming seven channels, each about seven feet wide, through which the river flowed. On the top of these walls, which rose three feet above the stream, were laid granite blocks eighteen inches thick, these forming a bridge one hundred feet wide and eighty feet long. Across this were built two parallel walls, six feet high and four feet thick, and the space between filled eight inches deep with clay, forming a watertight bottom. Embankments of earth, solidly puddled, were then built on each side and over these walls, and the waters of the canal passed over the river in a channel as secure as that cut in the natural ground; in fact, more securely than in many places along its course. It was with an evident feeling of pride that Mr. Eddy in his next report stated that the work was completed at a cost within the estimate, and that no great amount of repairs would be needed for a hundred years. To construct it required 31,000 cubic feet of granite, 25,000 cubic feet of earth, 2,700 cubic feet of clay, and timber enough to load two railway cars of today. Solid and substantial, the agent and owners expected it to outlive them and the century. Alas, for human calculation! In the early sixties it was demolished, and part now forms the cellar walls of the Brooks' residence near Oak Grove Cemetery, while the rest lies in the field near by, covered with the accumulated moss of more than forty years.

Some fifty bridges spanned the canal, part of which were for the highways; the rest were to connect private property divided by the canal. They were built with [p. 16] abutments of boulders and floors of wood, and the latter were known as ‘accommodation bridges.’ A notable exception to the general construction was and is the one near High street at West Medford.

This was built at Mr. Peter C. Brooks' expense, at about 1820. The engineer who designed it was George Rumford Baldwin (son of Col. B.), and it is a fitting monument to his skill, as well as ‘a gravestone to mark where the highway of the waters is buried.’ The towpath in summer became a favorite walk out from Boston and from the several villages, a veritable ‘Lovers' Lane,’ and some of the taverns were noted as the resort of pleasure parties, notably the one at Horn Pond in Woburn. In the winter the pleasure seekers forsook the path, for with the closing of the season by the frost king, began the sport of skating. Without exception, every man with whom the writer has conversed as to his recollections of the old waterway, refers with pleasure to the long skating trips he enjoyed. These sometimes became strenuous, as when the boys of Charlestown and Medford met near the old toll-house to the slogan of

Charlestown figs put on your wigs
And up to Medford run,


Medford maggits put on your jackets
And drive them back like fun

was the reply.

With the exception of thin ice under the bridges, into which some unfortunates plunged in an involuntary bath, the canal was an ideal place for winter pastime.

Allusion has been made to the opening of the railroad along the course of the canal. Though a public benefit, it was the canal's misfortune, and it is said that misfortune comes not singly. In '41, one of its trusted employees (nameless here) disappeared with $10,000 of the funds of the canal and of the associated Boating Co., of which $3,757.97 belonged to the Middlesex Canal. [p. 17]

In the quaint language of Caleb Eddy, ‘he thought it was better to be a rogue in Canada than an honest man in his own country,’ and also that ‘in his hasty flight he left behind some property, such as canal boats and a dwelling house.’

While Mr. Eddy took prompt action to secure something from these, it is doubtful if canal boats were then ‘gilt-edged’ security on which to realize a large per cent. of the loss sustained.

The railroad, the ‘infant’ referred to by Mr. Eddy in 1827, though now ('41) but six years old, and weak in its facilities compared with the present, was a lusty, growing youngster, and if not swallowing the canal itself, was swallowing its income and prospects by the rapidity of its own transit and continuous service.

A few years of plucky but profitless competition, and the regular operation of the canal was discontinued by vote of its directors. The last boat passed through the lock at Billerica in 1852, and the waters of the Concord flowed on toward the Merrimack as of old; while that in the various levels found its way out, saving here and there a portion into which the surrounding territory drained. The land it occupied, sold at auction or otherwise, soon underwent a radical change in some sections, by the leveling of the embankments, filling of the watercourses, and the removal of bridges and locks. In Medford, Summer (first called Middlesex street), and Boston avenue mark its course, while in Woburn fine residences on Arlington road (once Canal street) occupy the site of the ‘old canal.’ The beautiful Woburn Library overlooks its channel; while the railroad, after climbing the eighty feet rise from the Aberjona, and pausing forty years (presumably for breath), now continues northward by the same route the canal took at the opening of the century.

The construction of the Mystic Valley Parkway has obliterated some interesting features, known to the youngsters of these later years as ‘Tramps' Hollow’ and [p. 18] the ‘Devil's Den.’ Just off the boulevard, near the guardhouse, extending to the former site of the stone aqueduct, the old waterway is in excellent preservation. Though invaded for dwelling purposes for some years, the residents and their houses have gone, and nature has dealt kindly, as the tall trees witness.

Through Wilmington and Billerica the same kindly hand has covered its banks with verdure and its stones with moss, while in many places a forest has arisen where once the laden boats glided along, and the horses and oxen patiently plodded.

The dressed stone of the six locks at Woburn may be found in various house foundations by the observant seeker, while the abutments of the several aqueducts remain in place grim and dark, silent witnesses to the patient labor it took to build them a century ago. For a half-mile in Wilmington the trolley car rolls along on the tow path, under the trees that have grown, and the pier and abutments at the Shawsheen are well worth a journey to see. Though the wooden trough of the aqueduct has long since succumbed to the forces of nature, the same silent forces have invested the granite walls (innocent of mortar in their building), with a dignity that impresses the beholder. At North Billerica one guard lock remains with its gates, and conveys the water to the wheel-pits of the Talbot mills, while a little below is the ruin of the lock into the lower river, with a fragment of the gate still in the water. At Middlesex village, where the entrance was had into the Merrimack, is the ‘Hadley Pasture,’ once the scene of activity, as the boats went up and down the three steps of the fine stone locks. All these are gone, but the little office of the collector still remains on the hill beside the vanished lock site, while the cows graze quietly under the big trees that have grown in the excavation.

Compared with the enterprises that are designed and completed at the present day, the Middlesex Canal seems small and insignificant. But viewed in the true light of [p. 19] comparison with the then existing appliances and means, it will be readily seen to rank equally with them, if not greater in magnitude and importance. It accomplished in a way its mission, and bore no small part in the progress of the time, this owing to the energy and perseverance of Massachusetts and New Hampshire men, and was out-stripped in public service only by the power of steam, also in the hands of New England men.

This question is often asked, what will, or will not the present century develop? Possibly the men of today, could they return at its close, might see as much to surprise them as Gov. Sullivan, his son, or Col. Baldwin would, if they could be transported in a canal boat some evening into Charlestown at Sullivan square.

Town Records, Vol. 1, Page 1.

Upon the 14 of [ ]At a generall meeting of [ ] Selectmen & Jnhabitants of meadford it was then agreed by them for the procuring & main-taineing of a publique town ftock of amunition that mafters of families Lay in for themfelves and thofe under theire charge according as the law provides and that all other perfsons upon the plantation whatsoever enjoyned by law hall make good each man his proportion which is two [ ] of powder & three pound of balls per man dureing the time of theire abode upon the plantation aboue fayd. . . . 14 June 1678

Goodman: Hall Jr by money:0-15-0
Tho: willows in money0-07-6
Goodman: whitcomb & Daniell woodward0-05-0
mr Nathaniel wade0-05-0
Steven willows0-02-6
Jno. whitmore0-2-6
peter Tuft0.02-6
Goodman ffillebrowne0-05-0
John Bradfho0-02-6

[p. 20]

Strangers in Medford, (continued from Vol. 6, no. 4).

Names.From. Date.Warned out.Remarks.
Goldthwait, Benjamin1Boston, June 2, 1760Tenant of Col. Royall.
  Charity (wife)
Gould, AbrahamMar. court, 1758Servant of Benj. Peirce.
Gould, ElizabethReading, April 12, 1762In house of Nathan Tufts.
Gray, John, and familyDec. 28, 1750
Green, Francis (?)Aug. 31, 1797
Green, IsaacApr. 16, 1784(Wife and family.)
Greenleaf, Stephen
  Maria (wife)Brookline, Mayor June, 1764Dec. 3, 1764
Greenough, Andrew (Hall?)Boston, September, 1769Oct. 8, 1770In family of Andrew Hall.
Greenough, JohnJan. 30, 1791
Hadley, AbigailStoneham, Aug. 23, 1766In family of Widow Sarah Connory.
Hadley, David2Stoneham, February, 1762Jan. 1, 1763Apprentice to Benj. Willis.
Hadley, SamuelStoneham, Nov. 25, 1762Sept. 1, 1763Tenants of Ebenr Harriden.
  Abigail (wife)
Hadley, Samuel, Jr.Stoneham, Apr. 6, 1768Tenant of Thos. Sprague
  Rebecca (wife)

[p. 21]

Hains, AquilaBostonAug. 9, 1763‘A transient person.’
Hains, DorcasBoston,June, 1766Mar. 2, 1767Scotchman. Gardener.3
Hair, JohnBoston,April 21, 1769Oct. 8, 1770
Hall, AndrewBoston,September, 1769.
Hall JohnPortsmouth,Apr. 14, 1762Jan. 1, 1763Single man.5
Hall, JohnBoston,Oct. 7, 1766Mar. 2, 1767
Hall, JosephJan. 30, 1791Hatter.
  Joseph PattenJan. 30, 1791
Hall, MosesAnnapolis, abt.Nov. 1, 1770Jan. 30, 1791Boarder in house of Isaac Hall.
Hall, WilliamBostonApr. 3, 1762Single man. Gardener.6
July 23, 1766
Hall, WilliamJan. 30, 1791Laborer.
Hall, ZacheriahHaverhill, abt.Mar. 13, 1754In family of his brother, Samuel Hall.
Hall, ZacheriahGranville, N. S.,June, 1770Oct. 8, 1770

[p. 22]

History told by names of streets.

At an adjourned meeting of the Town of Medford, held May 4, 1829, the following report was read:—

The Selectmen being appointed a Committee at April meeting for the purpose of naming the Streets report the following—that the road leading from the Town pump west to Charlestown line be called High St. from the Town pump east to Malden line, Salem St. from Town pump South to foot of Winter hill, Main St—from Hotel west to where the road leaves the river, South St & and from there over the Canal to Charlestown line, Spring St. from Main St. to Charlestown line on the road to Lechmere point ‘Court Street’ from Main St. near Nathan Adams' house to Charlestown line leading to Harvard College, ‘Cambridge St.’ from Benjamin Tufts corner to Stoneham line ‘Mountain St.’ from Ship St. to Salem St. by the new burying ground—‘Cross St.’ from Furness Corner to Woburn line, ‘Purchase St’—from High St. by Jona Brooks the old road to Purchase St. ‘Woburn St’—from high St. near Canal bridge by P. C. Brooks' to Symmes' Corner, Grove St.

John Howe, Chairman.
Voted that said report be accepted and recorded & the streets therein mentioned be hereafter known by the names therein written.

The above is the first record of street names, and includes all public roads then in existence in Medford.

Prior to 1829, High street had been known as the road to Woburn or road to Menotomy. The bridge at the Weirs then connected Medford with Charlestown that section of Arlington not being set off to West Cambridge till 1842.

Charlestown was also Medford's next neighbor on the south, Somerville being a part of that town until March 3, 1842.

The road now called Medford street (the name being adopted because it is an extension of the street of that [p. 23] name in Somerville) was the direct road to Lechmere Point, East Cambridge, and was called Court street, as it was used especially when the inhabitants of Medford had occasion to go to the County Court House, which stood then, as now, very near the historic spot where the British landed, April 19, 1775.

The name was subsequently changed to Craigie road, a name suggested by its being the direct route to Craigie bridge at East Cambridge, but this name in turn was superseded.

Ship street, a name appropriate then and of historical value now, although we must lament its change to Riverside avenue, had been formerly known as the road to the marshes and the road to the mill. It was of much later date than the three roads described as ‘leading .... from the town pump.’ Porter's corner was so called from the residence and store on the corner of Main street, then owned and occupied by Jonathan Porter. This store was well known for miles around, and our elders tell of the line of teams, extending up High street and down Salem street for several rods, with steaming oxen waiting for their turn to be relieved of the loads brought from ‘up above,’ and ‘down Cape Ann way,’ to be exchanged for West India goods (pronounced West Ingie) from the store. Ship street ended at the ‘red gate,’ which was the entrance to Wellington Farms, which were owned and tilled by the brothers Isaac and James Wellington, their fertile acres unbroken by street or railroad. South street, after being extended to Medford Hillside, is now back within its original limits, from Main street, ‘at the hotel,’ to ‘where the road leaves the river.’ ‘Spring street,’ crossing the canal, is Winthrop street. Summer street (formerly Middlesex) and West street approximately mark the course of Middlesex canal in this section. Nathan Adams occupied a house where the Mystic House stands, and Harvard street was Cambridge street. Both names are equally appropriate.

Mountain street was the name given to the present [p. 24] Fulton street. This is one of the oldest, if not the oldest of all Medford roads. It was the cartway from the carrying place at the river, near Cross street to the ‘Charlestown Wood Lots,’ now Middlesex Fells; the course from Salem street to the river is not positively known. In 1836, after the death of Mrs. Sarah Fulton,7 who lived for nearly forty years on a lonely farm at the top of Kidders' hill, above the present Fellsway West, the street was renamed in her honor. The house where Benjamin Tufts lived, on the northeast corner of Fulton and Salem streets, is standing [1904] and within a comparatively few years was occupied by his family. The burying ground on Cross street, ‘new’ in 1829, has within its crowded boundaries the dust of many of the ship building mechanics who were laid to rest within hearing of the

Sound of hammers, blow on blow
Knocking away the shores and spurs.

Furness' corner is now officially named Winthrop square. The Furness homestead was the old home of Parson Turell, and after the Furness family left, it was owned and occupied by Jonathan Porter. It was torn down some years ago.

‘Purchase street,’ we regret to say, has been changed to Winthrop street. The highway was laid out after the land had been bought for the purpose. The money it cost was well spent, as it shortened the distance to Woburn and avoided the toilsome climb up Simonds' hill. The name Purchase street commemorated the investment.

Grove street still keeps its old name. The bridge which then spanned the waters of the Middlesex Canal, now stands in the green meadow on the Brooks' estate, near by, a graceful and substantial monument to a vanished industry.

[To be continued.] [p. 25]

1 Major. Tavern keeper.

2 Son of Samuel.

3 In employ of Col. Royall.

4 ‘And Andrew Greenough.’

5 In employ of Col. Royall.

6 In employ of Col. Royall.

7 Medford Historical Register, Vol. 1, Page 53.

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