Middlesex Canal Association
Dedicated to the Preservation and Restoration of the Historic Middlesex Canal
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Middlesex Canal
Curriculum Project

Recent Towpath Topics

April 2014 (HTML)

April 2014 (color PDF)

April 2014 (Flash)

The April 2014 issue was mailed to Members and Proprietors on Apr 3, 2014.

January 2014 (HTML)

January 2014 (color PDF)

January 2014 (Flash)

September 2013 (HTML)

September 2013 (color PDF)

September 2013 (Flash)

Middlesex Canal Publications
Order Form (PDF)
Order Form (HTML)
(updated March 2014)

Become a member of the
Middlesex Canal Association

Reardon Room Rental

For the past ten years a group of dedicated volunteers has operated the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitor Center at the Faulkner Mill in North Billerica. We have good facilities for rental in a charming Museum. Should you plan a function, we hope that you will consider us. The reasonable charge of $200 covers the room and a committee member who will be present throughout to assist you. For more information phone 978-670-2740, leave a message and someone will return your call.

The Middlesex Canal
Museum-Visitor Center

is open noon to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year, except holidays.
See the Calendar for exact dates.

The Middlesex Canal
Museum - Visitors Center

is located at the Faulkner Mills,
71 Faulkner St., No. Billerica MA

For more information on the Museum, call 978-670-2740.
Volunteers for the museum are being recruited. If interested, e-mail 
museum2014 AT middlesexcanal.org
(Will Barker)

Directions to the
Museum/Visitors Center

From Route 3 North or South:
     Take Route 3 North or South to Exit 28 "Treble Cove Road, North Billerica, Carlisle". At the end of the ramp, turn onto Treble Cove Road toward North Billerica. At about 3/4 mile, bear left at a fork. After another 3/4 mile you'll come to a traffic light; this is Route 3A; go straight. Go about 1/4 mile to a 3-way fork; take the middle road, which will put St. Andrew's Church on your left. Go about 1/4 mile; bear right, then turn right onto Faulkner Street. Go about 1/4 mile; the Museum is on your left and you can park across the street on your right, just beyond the falls.

From Route 495 North or South:
     Take the Woburn Street N. Billerica/Lowell Exit. From the North take a left, from the South a right onto Woburn Street, which becomes Billerica Avenue. At the RR Station parking lot, take a right; Go 1/4 mile and the Faulkner Mill is on the right. The parking lot is on the left.

Directions by train:
     The Lowell Commuter Line runs between Boston's North Station and Lowell's Gallagher Terminal. Get off at the North Billerica station, which is one stop south of Lowell. From the station side of the tracks, the Museum is a 3-minute walk down Faulkner Street on the right side.

Telephone: 1-978-670-2740

Calendar of meetings of the Middlesex Canal Association and Museum volunteering


Officers and Directors of the Middlesex Canal Association


By-Laws of the Middlesex Canal Association


Presidents of the
Middlesex Canal Association
Arthur Louis Eno 1962 - 1972
Douglas P. Adams 1972 - 1975
Wilbar M. Hoxie 1975 - 1977
Frances B. VerPlanck 1977 - 1981
H. Lawrence Henchey, Jr.    1981 - 1983
Nolan T. Jones 1983 - 1985
Paul Pearsall 1985 - 1987
David A. Fitch 1987 - 1990
Burt VerPlanck 1990 - 1994
Nolan T. Jones 1994 - 2010
William E. Gerber, Jr. 2010 - 2011
J. Jeremiah Breen 2011 -

The President of the Middlesex Canal Association is J. Jeremiah Breen

The Vice President of the Middlesex Canal Association is Traci Jansen

For information about publications available through the Middlesex Canal Association, contact Betty Bigwood.

For information on membership in the Middlesex Canal Association, contact Neil Devins.

For information about the Middlesex Canal Commission and its efforts to preserve and restore what remains of the Middlesex Canal, contact Tom Raphael.

For information about upcoming walks and tours of the Middlesex Canal, contact Roger Hagopian

Send comments, suggestions, photos, and any other interesting information about the Middlesex Canal to webmaster Robert Winters at robert@middlesexcanal.org.

Note: E-mail sent to several of the above addresses will be forwarded by the webmaster to the appropriate person after being screened for SPAM and viruses.

News Item:
Colonel Loammi Baldwin gets his sword
(YouTube video)

Haulin' Down to Boston
on the Middlesex Canal

(sung by Official Middlesex Canal Troubadour Paul Wiggin,
length 2:12)

MP3 format  (2MB)

WAV format (5.6MB)

Lyrics and Music (JPG)

Journey Along the Middlesex Canal
(WMV format - low resolution - 28MB)

National Canal Museum 
(in Easton, PA)

Middlesex Canal
Photo Gallery

(more photos are welcome)
Photos from the Spring Walk
April 27, 2002
Photos from the MCA
Annual Meeting - May 5, 2002
Hoxie Map
of the Middlesex Canal route

(246KB GIF)

Photograph of the canal taken from the School St. bridge in North Woburn (early 20th century)
Phase IV report (PAL)
on the Middlesex Canal,
submitted November, 1999

Remains of the Maple Meadow Aqueduct
Archaeological Report (1998)

Remains of the Shawsheen Aqueduct

Bridge at Brooks Estate
West Medford

Count Rumford
(reproduction of booklet prepared by the Woburn Historical Commission, 1975)
This site was last updated
Saturday, June 21, 2014 1:26 PM

Restoration of Canal Museum seeks to preserve a part of history (June 14, 2014, Billerica Minuteman)

Campaign Launched

The Middlesex Canal Association has accepted the old Talbot cloth warehouse to be used as a future new Canal Museum. The warehouse is adjacent to the site where construction of the canal began. The deed was signed on February 5 and recorded on March 6, 2014.

As of June 1, 2014 the Middlesex Canal Association launched its Fundraising Campaign to raise $100,000 to hire an Architect/Structural Engineer. The initial appeal will go out to businesses. There is an urgent need to replace the roof. The expected total cost of the adaptive use of the building for our purposes is expected to cost less than half a million dollars. The following two page letter is being sent as we speak. Hopefully, our civic minded community will rise to the occasion.


June 2014

Dear Community Members,

The Middlesex Canal Association is excited to announce a major step towards preserving the history of the Middlesex Canal. We have recently been granted the deed to an 1880's warehouse which is on the banks of the Summit Mill Pond, aside the canal where the ceremonial ground breaking took place 220 years ago and adjacent to the future Middlesex Canal Heritage Park in North Billerica. This is a significant opportunity to build a New Canal Museum and we need your help.

The Middlesex Canal was one of the first major transportation canals in the United States and was largely responsible for the initial growth of Boston as a world city. This "Incredible Ditch" served as a commercial network for the towns of Lowell, Chelmsford, Billerica, Wilmington, Woburn, Winchester, Medford, Somerville and Charlestown. Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin declared in 1808 that the canal was "the greatest work of its kind in the United States to date."

The Middlesex Canal Association strives to acquire, restore, and preserve all extant remains of the old Middlesex Canal. Our programs include teacher and student education, maintaining a historical archive and web site, thrice-yearly lectures, publication of our journal Towpath Topics, bicycle tours and guided walks along the canal. The Association is also proud to have maintained an all volunteer run Museum and Visitor Center for the past thirteen years.

We are making an appeal to all in our community to help fund this project. In the first phase, we want to hire an architect, develop a plan of approach, construct a bridge to access the building, and rebuild the roof. The second phase will bring to completion a new Canal Museum and Visitor Center for the benefit of present and all future generations.

We have chosen your name with special care. We want to start work this summer and funds are urgently needed. Please contact us at fundraising@middlesexcanal.org or 978-670-2740 for more information about this amazing project.


J Jeremiah Breen
MCA President


Warehouse - Future Museum

2 Old Elm Street
Billerica, Massachusetts 01862

Donation levels of $10,000 or more earns a Platinum Status, $5,000 or more earns a Gold Status, $2,500 or more earns a Silver Status, and $500 or more earns a Bronze Status. Contributing businesses will be featured on a permanent display in the museum, on our web site and in our literature. This will qualify for 501 (c) (3) tax status.

Name, Address and phone number of donor: [Click here for mailable form]


Please endorse checks to:
The Middlesex Canal Association/New Museum and send to:
Howard B. Winkler, Treasurer MCA
1010 Waltham Street, Apt 205
Lexington, Massachusetts 02421

Calendar of Middlesex Canal Association Events and Related Events

First Wednesday - MCA Board of Directors' Meetings - The Board meets the first Wednesday of every month (except July and August), at the Museum, from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Members and the public are invited to attend.

Sun, Oct 5, 2014 - Bike Tour, north-bound, starting at 9:00am (tentative date)

Sun, Oct 19, 2014 - MCA-AMC Fall Walk, TBD (tentative date)

Sun, Oct 26, 2014 - MCA Fall Meeting (tentative date)

Other Canal-Related Events

Augusta (GA) Canal, Guided Bicycle Rides -”Pedal through the Past”. Various weekends. Bring your bike and enjoy a ride along the canal towpath with an experienced Augusta Canal tour guide. You’ll learn a bit about the history, engineering and natural surroundings that make the Augusta Canal a National Heritage Area. For information see http://www.augustacanal.com/Default.aspx?PageId=9.

Walks along the Morris and the Delaware & Raritan Canals in New Jersey. Various weekends. For information see http://www.canalsocietynj.org/upcoming_canal_walks_in_2014.pdf.

May 17, June 14 and July 12, 2014: Blackstone Canal Conservancy work days, 9AM, Plummers Landing west parking area, Church St. Northbridge, MA.

July 24 to Aug 3, 2014: Cape Cod Canal Centennial Celebration. A weeklong celebration will be filled with maritime-themed events, from historical exhibits and tall ships on display, to a tugboat parade and children’s activities along the canal. There will be an opening gala and a grand ball as well as a tour of the historic Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whaling ship. See www.capecodtoday.com/article/2013/01/19/16597-cape-cod-canal-centennial-coming-next-year for a synopsis, capecodcanalcentennial.com/events/ for a listing of events, and/or search for “Cape Cod Canal Centennial” for further information.

2014 - World Canals Conference, Navigli Lombardi, Milan, Italy

Josiah Rich, Pat Henry, J. Breen
Standing Room Only: President J. Jeremiah Breen officiated
over the 2014 Winter Meeting of the Middlesex Canal Association.
Pat Henry spoke of Billerica's Utopia - a planned residential area
near our current museum. It was well attended.
In photo are Josiah Rich,MD,MPH (husband). Pat Henry (speaker) and J. Breen.

Shawsheen Aqueduct - October 2013
Remains of the Shawsheen Aqueduct, N. Billerica - October 2013

(Photo by Cathy Norton)

Bigwood Bridge
The Spring Walk on Sunday, May 5, 2013 drew a crowd of more than 50 people.
At the Maple Meadow Brook, participants crossed the "Bigwood Bridge" built for the day.

Dick Bauer
Why is Dick Bauer smiling? Because 34 people joined him on
the Spring Bike Ride along the Canal route (Apr 7, 2013).
Traci Jensen, Bill Gerber, and Debbie
Traci, Debbie, and Bill are deep in thought writing up the
messages for QR codes to be attached to each exhibit.
Who says we aren't keeping up with the latest?

November 4, 2012 - The Middlesex Canal Association celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a van tour of the canal, "the greatest work of the kind that has been completed in the United States." So wrote Albert Gallatin in 1808. The tour included a dinner in the Baldwin Mansion, home of the canal builder, and birthday cake at the canal museum.

Middlesex Canal Association 50th Anniversary Celebrants

Fall Walk, Oct 21, 2012 - Pictures by Russ Silva

Middlesex Canal Commission Receives Grant for Walking & Biking Trails along Canal in Woburn

One World BostonOneWorld Boston, a Cummings Foundation affiliate, has awarded the Middlesex Canal Commission a $100,000 grant to support construction of walking and bike paths along the Middlesex Canal in Woburn from Alfred Street to School Street. [Middlesex Canal Commission]

Alfred to School Street

Heritage Corridor Map Book (4.6MB, 41 page PDF)
[Note: Use landscape format for printing pages]

The MCA-AMC Fall Walk took place on Sunday, October 17, 2010 along a scenic section of the Middlesex Canal from the Wilmington Town Park to Patch's Pond. Photos from the 2010 Fall Walk

Middlesex Canal Prism
75 ft. Buffer

Brochure for the April 25, 2009 Spring Walk in Medford and Winchester. (sequenced pages)

Brochure for the April 25, 2009 Spring Walk in Medford and Winchester. (spreads for 2-sided printing)

Southern terminus of the Middlesex Canal (Sullivan Square, Charlestown)
[Canal Street is now Rutherford Street]

Incorporation - page 1

Incorporation - page 2

1794. - Chap. 0067
[January Session, ch. 43]

Be it enacted by the Senate & House of Representatives in General Court assembled & by the authority of the same, That the property of the said Proprietors in the said Canal, & in any other Canal connected therewith, which they shall effect, pursuant to any authority of the Government, & all real estate of which the said Corporation shall be seized shall be divided into eight hundred shares & that each share therein shall give the person holding the same one vote in the proceedings of the said corporation, provided that no one proprietor shall have a right to more than twenty five votes on any occasion; And that the shares in the same Canal, including the towing paths & wharves thereon, shall be so far considered as personal estate, that the same may be transferred according to such rules & regulations as the said Corporation shall establish; And that the proprietors shall be subjected to taxes therefor in the towns & parishes where they shall severally reside as for personal estate.

And be it further enacted, that the said Corporation shall have power to receive & hold real estate as appendant to the same Canal & for the purpose of facilitating the business of the same, to the value of thirty thousand pounds, over & above the value of the Canal itself simply considered; And that the Corporation shall be liable to pay taxes therefor in the Town & Parish where the same may be; And such taxes may be assessed on the corporation or on its tenants at the discretion of the Town where the tax shall be made.

And whereas the said Corporation hath petitioned the Legislature for an extension of their powers for the purpose of making other Canals to be connected, & to communicate with the said Middlesex Canal: The object of which petition being to render the waters of Concord River boatable as far up as the same can be usefully improved for that purpose & to improve the banks of Medford river, so as to render the Canal more easy & useful, as well as to open a Canal round the shallows in the town of Dunstable on the banks of Merrimack river; And also to extend said Canal to the waters of Charles River or the town of Boston.

Be it therefore farther enacted that the said proprietors of the Middlesex Canal shall be empowered to render the waters of Concord river boatable as far as Sudbury Causeway & as much farther as the same can be usefully improved for that end; & to open any Canal at any place in the said County of Middlesex that may be necessary to connect the said Concord river with the said Middlesex Canal for that purpose, and also to extend said Canal from Medford to the waters of the town of Boston or Charles river in such way as to said proprietors may seem most advantageous & with all the privileges, & under the same restrictions & regulations as are granted & provided in said Act; And that the said proprietors shall be liable to have damages recovered against them by any individual who shall be injured or damnified in his property in such new Canal by the same mode of process, & in the same manner as is in the same act provided: And that for the use of any such new Canal or boatable waters the said proprietors may receive the same rate of toll which is by the same act established for the said Middlesex Canal.

"Whereas it is provided in an Act entitled an Act for incorporating James Sullivan & others by the name & stile of the proprietors of the Middlesex Canal "That no part of the waters of Shawshine river shall be diverted from their natural course for the purpose aforesaid" It is hereby declared to be the true intent & meaning of the foregoing restrictive clause that the ponds & those streams which continue a visible current thro' the year & usually empty into Shawshine River are to be considered as part of the waters of the said River.

Approved February 28, 1795.

Middlesex Canal Bibliography

For some historical perspective, try this:

From the April 2005 issue of Towpath Topics:
Middlesex Canal Facts

From the archives:

[This article originally appeared in the April 1968 issue of Towpath Topics (Vol. 6, No. 1).]


[This article was originally published in two parts in the April 1969 and September 1969 issues of Towpath Topics. It was prepared by the author as a course paper at Nasson College, and was revised by the author for publication (1969).]

Pleasure Barge - watercolor by Thomas Dahill
(story in a recent issue of Towpath Topics)

Plaque at Sandy Beach on the Upper Mystic Lake

1890 photo of the remains of the Shawsheen Aqueduct of the Middlesex Canal (from a glass slide)

Towpath Topics
(newsletter of the Middlesex Canal Association)

Communication from Robert Fulton
(from the September 1994 and March 2000 issues of Towpath Topics)

The Canal Boat by Nathaniel Hawthorne
(Hawthorne's account of a trip on the Erie Canal, originally published in the December 1835 issue of New-England Magazine, as transcribed by the University of Rochester.)

The First Issue:
Canal News - October 1963 (vol. 1, no. 1)
(added May 12, 2003)

The Middlesex Canal Association Annual Meeting on May 4, 2003 featured guest speaker J.R. Greene, historian and author of many books on the history of the Quabbin Reservoir and the towns that were eradicated to create the reservoir. If you are interested in the books of J.R. Greene, a listing and contact information is provided here: [Books by J.R. Greene]

"To step down from some busy thoroughfare onto the quiet towpath of a canal....is to step backward a hundred years or more and to see things in a different, and perhaps more balanced perspective."  Tom Rolt, British author

Middlesex Canal Corporation Records
Mogan Center Archives
at UMass Lowell

The first issue of the Middlesex Canal Association newsletter was published in October 1963. Originally named "Canal News", the first issue featured a contest to name the newsletter. A year later, the newsletter was renamed "Towpath Topics".

Linscott painting of Horn Pond Inn

Officers and Directors of the
Middlesex Canal Association

By-Laws of the
Middlesex Canal Association

Calendar of meetings of the
Middlesex Canal Association
and Museum volunteering

Middlesex Canal Publications
Order Form (PDF)
Order Form (HTML)
(updated March 2013)


June 23, 2002

On June 22-23, 2002, six members of the Middlesex Canal Association made the 115-mile journey to Baldwin, Maine to join the festivities as they celebrated their 200th anniversary. Baldwin is just west of Sebago Lake. There was a parade, historical exhibit, barbecue, and block dance on Saturday. On Sunday, a formal program of speeches by prominent community members was followed by the release of green and white balloons, an ice cream social and birthday cake. It was a lot of fun.

Few people realize that Loammi Baldwin and Josiah Pierce (Count Rumford's half brother) formed a business partnership in what was then northern Massachusetts. Josiah ran the logging business for Loammi and later became its owner. This tract of land was named Baldwin after Loammi.

Loammi Baldwin constructed a home there similar to the Baldwin Mansion in North Woburn. The current Josiah Pierce, a direct descendant, gave us a most gracious tour of the beautiful estate that they still operate as a farm. Count Rumford's mother, Ruth Thompson Pierce, is buried there in the family burial ground.

- Betty Bigwood

The advertisement at left appeared as a two inch by two inch advertisement on the fourth and last page of the AMERICAN TRAVELLER, Boston MA, Tuesday morning, June 8, 1830, Vol. 5, No. 8. (Donated to the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitor Center by John Ciriello)

Middlesex Canal Museum from anchor stone
Anchor stone of the floating towpath (foreground)
Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitors Center at Faulkner Mills (background)

the known universe http://middlesexcanal.org