Middlesex Canal, Guide and Maps by Burt VerPlanck is a newly released publication of the Middlesex Canal Association. Guidebooks are now or sale in local area bookstores (e.g. BOOK ENDS of Winchester). For historians and canal buffs who wonder if their house was indeed in or near the bed of America's pioneering early canal, 10 easy to read three-color foldout maps, as well as the detailed text, should make such research very clear.
The 9 canal cities and towns of Charlestown, Somerville, Medford, Winchester, Woburn, Wilmington, Billerica, Chelmsford, and Lowell are the "treasure" towns through which the canal ran.
John Hancock, then Govenor of Massachusetts signed the Middlesex Canal Corporation Charter in 1793, only a few years after the American Revolution. In 1803 after 10 long years of digging, with pickaxes, shovels, and blasting with "the best foreign gunpowder", and under the direction of brilliant Middlesex Canal Proprietors, the canal was open for business.
This 27 mile long inland waterway would link the international port of Boston to the Merrimack River and provide important commerce to the interior of New Hampshire all the way to the capital city of Concord, N.H. at a time when roads were abysmal and railroads nonexistent. Boston entrepreneurs and financiers, including Andrew Craigie and Christopher Gore, were anxious to have their city become a commercial rival to New York City. However, they were hamstrung by lack of an inland waterway. Thus constructing the canal to enhance the importance of Boston Harbor became a "must".
Today many people who live in the area are unaware of this historic canal. Now, with the help of Burt VerPlanck's guide and maps people can follow the route of the canal and find surviving remnants of locks, aqueducts, farm bridge abutments, and other canal structures.
This book is available at Book Ends (781-721-5923) and Bowditch & Crandall, Inc. (781-721-7667) in Winchester.