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tical engineer, was found to be one hundred and four feet. By the original survey from Billerica to Chelmsford, the surveyor, says, • The water we estimate in the Merrimac at sixteen and one-half feet above that at Billerica Bridge, and the distance six miles ;' when, in fact, the water at Billerica Bridge is about twenty-five feet above the Merrimac at Chelmsford. This report shows one of the many difficulties the directors had to contend with for the want of requisite scientific knowledge.
“On the first day of March, the directors passed a vote, appointing Loammi Baldwin, Esq., to repair to Philadelphia, and endeavor to obtain Mr. Weston's an English engineer) assistance in conducting the canal. If he cannot come, then that he endeavor to obtain some other person who shall be recommended by Mr. Weston; and that said agent be authorized to write to Europe for some suitable person for the undertaking, if none can be found elsewhere.' Col. Baldwin made a lengthy and able report on the twelfth day of May, 1794. Among other things, he says he has engaged Mr. Weston to make the survey of the route in the month of June, and closes his report as follows: 'I consider the prospects before us, in this undertaking, much more flattering in respect to the execution of the work, in proportion to the extent, than any I have seen in the Southern States, the Washington Canal excepted.' About the 15th of July, Mr. Weston arrived; and a committee, consisting of Loammi Baldwin and Samuel Jaques, was appointed • to attend him during his survey and observations relating to the canal.' The survey was completed, and a full report made by Mr. Weston, on the second day of August, 1794. Agents were immediately appointed to carry on the work, to commence at Billerica Mills, on Concord River, and first complete the level to the Merrimac, at North Chelmsford. The season having so far advanced, but little could be done until the next spring, except purchasing materials and making contracts for future operations. The work was prosecuted with great caution, from the commencement to the year 1803, at which time it was so far completed as to be navigable from the Merrimac to Charles River ; but delays and great expense were incurred for many years, owing to imperfections in the banks and other parts of the work; and about the whole income was expended in additions, alterations, and repairs; and no dividend could be, or was, declared until Feb. 1, 1819!
The charter allowed assessments to be laid, from time to time, until the works should be completed, and all the debts of the corporation fully and justly paid. One hundred assessments were laid: the first on the first day of January, 1794; the last on the first day of September, 1817; amounting, with interest added to Feb. i, 1819 (the date of first dividend), to fourteen hundred and fifty-five dollars and twenty-five cents on each share; making the whole cost of the canal eleven hundred and sixty-four thousand two hundred dollars. There have been paid in dividends, from the year 1819 to the present
year (1843), five hundred and four dollars on each share (averaging $20.16 per annum); an interest on the cost of about one and thirtynine one-hundredths of one per cent per annum.
From the year 1819 to the time the Lowell Railroad went into operation, the receipts regularly increased, so that the dividends arose from ten to thirty dollars per share; and no doubt, in a few years, without competition, they would have given a handsome interest on the original cost. The year that road went into full operation, the receipts of the canal were reduced one-third: when the Nashua and Lowell Road went into operation, they were reduced another third. Those of the last year and the present will not be sufficient to cover the expenditures for repairs and current expenses. The future has but a gloomy prospect. For the past twenty years, and during the time I have had the management of the canal, I can truly say, the directors have spared no pains or expense in keeping it in perfect order for use; and the public have derived great advantage from this water communication, in the transportation of timber (for shipbuilding) and other heavy lumber, as well as wood and merchandise generally. The inventions and ingenuity of man are ever onward; and a new, cheap, and more expeditious mode of transportation by steam-power has been devised, which seems destined to destroy that which was once considered invulnerable. What is to be done? Improvements in mechanics and the arts will go on, while man has mind. If the canal cannot put out the fire of the locomotive, it may be made to stop the ravages of that element in the city of Boston, should the proprietors, after mature consideration, deem it for their interest so to devote it. The canal was brought into existence by the aid and assistance of the Legislature; and by their power it has received a hard blow. There is yet vitality; and the same power that created and has nearly destroyed it can resuscitate and give to it a valuable existence for the future. I trust, upon a respectful and proper representation of the condition of your interests as they exist at the present time, and the past great exertions of the proprietors to serve the public faithfully, together with the immense sacrifices that have been made, the Legislature will be disposed to view the case as one of equity, and render every aid in their power to preserve and make it more valuable than heretofore. I know of but one way in which the canal can be of much value to the public, and those who now hold an interest therein; viz., by changing a part of it from one public use to another. Discontinue the levels from the Charles River to Woburn upper locks, and from Billerica Mills to the Merrimac River; in the whole, a distance of over fourteen miles. The remaining part, from the Concord River to Woburn upper locks, may then be used as an aqueduct, similar to those in France and other European countries. From Woburn, the water may be conveyed in thirty-inch iron pipes, for the supply of the city of Boston, the towns of Charlestown, and East Cambridge.”
In another part of the “Sketch," the author thus touches on that vexed subject, — indemnity for damages arising from the construction of rival public accommodation:
“ The construction of the Middlesex Canal was a heavy undertaking to its proprietors. It was built in good faith, and has ever been conducted with a strict regard to public accommodation. When the Lowell Railroad charter was petitioned for, the proprietors of the canal respectfully remonstrated against the grant thereof, unless it should contain a provision for some reasonable indemnity to them for the injury they were doomed to sustain. I would ask if the same Legislature did not require that individuals who might sustain any injury whatever in their property, by reason of the acts and doings of the railroad corporation, should be indemnified ? In laying a road, by virtue of law, on or over a person's land, the fee of the land is not taken from him; but he is deprived of obtaining any income from it while the road is continued over the same; the award of the commissioners being generally the amount, or nearly so, of the property. On discontinuing the road, the property reverts to him, and he again can derive an income. Now, by granting the right of constructing a railroad by the side of the canal, the proprietors are deprived of the means of an income. Why should they not have some reasonable remuneration? They expended their money in purchasing lands, honorably paying all damages, and building the canal. Did the landholder do more than pay for the property which he, by the act, was deprived of getting his usual income from? Why, then, should there not have been a provision in the act for a reasonable indemnity by the railroad or State? There were certainly as strong grounds for it as there were for the State to pay $25,000 as an indemnity to the proprietors of the Charles River Bridge. By the grant of another charter, to another corporation, to build a new bridge, they virtually destroyed the income from the old one. The only reason set forth for so doing was that of public convenience; exactly the same which was maintained by the petitioners for the Lowell Railroad, in asking for a charter for their road. There is only one difference in the two cases. The proprietors of Charles River Bridge had received over and over again the cost of the bridge, and interest on the same; whilst the proprietors of the canal have received but one and thirtynine hundredths of one per cent interest on the cost,
their whole expenditure, by the unreasonable act of the Legislature, being now rendered of nominal or little value.”
In 1851, it was thought best by the proprietors “to surrender the charter, wind up the concern, sell the property, and divide the proceeds.” In 1852, it was sold at auction, in sections; and they who owned land upon its borders were, in most cases, the purchasers. The process of filling it up
commenced so soon, and has been prosecuted so diligently, that all traces of this full artery have, in many sections, wholly disappeared ; but we truly hope that the solid stone bridge, built by the Hon. Peter Č. Brooks, to span it, and which has been for a quarter of a century a most picturesque object in the distance, will be allowed to remain in memoriam, - a gravestone to mark where the highway of waters lies buried.
Two“single locks” were found necessary in Medford, one on the north bank of Mystic River, almost contiguous to the Lowell Railroad track, in West Medford ; and the other near the entrance of Medford Turnpike. This last was a “side lock,” used for transferring ship-timber from the canal to the river.
There were benefits and pleasures incidental to the current of these waters through Medford which after-generations must lose. Dry and sandy soils, contiguous to the canal, became signally fertile by its irrigations and filterings; hedges and shrubbery on its sides became doubly beautiful. It furnished soft water to hundreds of families; it tempted the laborer and the boys to enjoy the luxury of a bath ; it invited the young of both sexes to sit and angle for perch and bream ; and it presented to the skater the smoothest ice between its sheltering banks.
RETAIL PRICES CURRENT IN MEDFORD.
(The best of each article is taken ; and the average price for the last ten years.) Tea (green), per lb.
0.40-0.45 Coffee (Java),
0.16 Sugar (white), ,
0.08 Molasses, per gal.
0.37 Butter, per lb.
0.25 Milk, per qt.
0.05 Vinegar, per gal.
0.14 Salt, per bushel .
0.50 Eggs, per dozen.
0.15 Flour, per barrel
8.00 Corn (northern), per bushel
0.80 Rye (northern),
Oats (northern), per bushel
(bar), per lb.
0.30 0.75 0.50
0.10 0.10 0.10 0.12 0.12 0.15 4.00 0.08
0.25 20.00 8.00 5.00 0.33 7.00
To understand the currency used by our Medford ancestors, is to understand much of their habits and customs; for the mediums of exchange and barter, whatever they be, exert a magical influence over the labors, wishes, and attachments of society. Whatever has been prescribed by legislative authority, or adopted by general usage, as a medium of exchange, may be denominated currency. The substances adopted as a standard of value have been very various in different ages and countries. In ancient times, in Italy and Greece, the standard was cattle, sometimes leather; in Europe, a silver nail, iron bars, tin plates ; in India, shells ; in Africa, bricks