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THE BOATS OF THE MIDDLESEX CANAL
|to be assembled. It also carried ties to
be used on the rails. The railroad's chief engineer was the son of
the canal's first superintendent, Laommi Baldwin.
The Boston and Lowell Railroad was the beginning of the end for the canal. Canal boats could operate only eight months out of the year and could not maintain strict timetables. The railroad, by contrast, could operate year round and was more dependable, as well as faster. The Stephenson made its trial run from Lowell to Boston in one hour and 20 minutes.
The year that the Boston and Lowell Railroad went into operation, canal receipts dropped by one-third. When the Lowell and Nashua line was opened, business declined by another third. With the completion of the Concord and Nashua line in 1842, the railroad paralleled the entire waterway route from Boston to Concord. The Middlesex Canal Corporation struggled on for several more years, but toll receipts dwindled and in 1852, the last boat passed through the canal. Canal Agent Caleb Eddy's 1843 plan to convert the canal into a drinking water supply for the city of Boston failed, and the corporation's charter was extinguished by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 1859.
The records of the Middlesex Canal Corporation are housed at the University of Lowell Center for Lowell History.
The quilt on display, made by Gretchen Sanders Joy, is of the "Storm-at-Sea" pattern with a Mariners' Compass.
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