New display at TradeCenter 128 remembers Middlesex Canal
A new display in the recently upgraded lobby of 100 TradeCenter pays tribute to a piece of Woburn history. Built before the advent of the railroad, Middlesex Canal was once the principal route along which goods and materials were transported north from Boston. Reaching from Boston Harbor to Lowell, the Canal passed directly in front of what is now the site of TradeCenter 128.
Completed in 1803, the Middlesex Canal was the first canal built for commercial use in the United States. Construction of this engineering marvel included aqueducts, locks, a “floating bridge” and extensive granite engineering works, all constructed well before the advent of steam power.
The Canal ran 27 miles from Charlestown to Lowell, Massachusetts, and provided the first economical transportation of materials and products between Boston and the interior of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The Canal played an important role in the early industrialization of America and in the history of the nine towns and cities through which it ran. With the coming of the railroad, the Middlesex Canal gradually slipped into disuse and was finally abandoned in 1853. Ironically, the Canal carried the wood ties and steel rails use to build the railroad, thereby contributing to its own demise. Miraculously, almost half of the Canal still exists 150 years later.
The Middlesex Canal is a living connection to the rich history of eastern Massachusetts and a resource for today – both as an historic site and a recreational and open space asset.
A duplicate copy of the display was donated by the Company to Middlesex Canal Commission Museum in Billerica. To learn more about the Middlesex Canal, visit MiddlesexCanal.org.
In 2012, Cummings Foundation awarded Middlesex Canal Commission a $100,000 grant to reconstruct the Middlesex Canal towpath and connect it to pedestrian outlets at Alfred Street and School Street, providing a recreational path for Woburn area residents. The Commission was one of 11 Woburn nonprofits to receive grants that year alone through the Foundation’s $100K for 100 program.