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A little less than a happy high
Remains of the day
One of the advantages to living in the Eastern US is the presence of remains of the transportation canal network from the early days of the American industrial revolution. Actually, I should say that it’s a little known advantage because it’s pretty rare that I to find someone that knows that they existed, much less where the remains can be found.

The canals linked production centers to coastal centers via a system of horse-drawn barges. Unfortunately, they were not proven to be either very profitable or efficient, and as a result eventually became the Beta to the railroads’ VHS. For me, they were one of those historical sidebars that never fully registered until I saw actual proof. Proof came when I stumbled on the remains of one the Middlesex Canal locks not far from where I live. Since, I’ve become rather fascinated in the ruins, partly because they present a tactile history that have mostly been forgotten, partly because there is a strange romance to good ideas that didn’t quite turn out as well as expected.

Not to mention that they give me an excuse to stomp around in the woods from time to time.

On Saturday, I unexpectedly found the remains of a canal aqueduct as I was driving around outside of the town of Harvard. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to place the structure on one of the canals that I know about. This hasn’t been helped by the fact that I don’t have a clear sense of where I was at beyond, "I’m pretty sure that this is too far west to be the Middlesex."

Current Music: Pixies, "Gigantic"

13 comments or Leave a comment
catya From: catya Date: February 17th, 2004 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
you were in harvard and didn't swing by? sheesh.

gorgeous picture.
komos From: komos Date: February 17th, 2004 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't really know where I was. That's the problem. Besides, I don't really know where your place is.

catya From: catya Date: February 17th, 2004 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)


we're in bolton :) email me for the address sometime...
komos From: komos Date: February 18th, 2004 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I remembered that much. ^_^

Will do, though.
_meej_ From: _meej_ Date: February 17th, 2004 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Rachel's Dad is a canal fan as well; if I get a chance, I'll see if he has any insight.

Have you ever been to Canal Days (or whatever the correct name is) up in Lowell? It's neat, in its hyper-canal-geekery way.
komos From: komos Date: February 17th, 2004 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't indulged in hyper canal geekery, in part because I like the "voyage of discovery" feel that still comes from finding bits and pieces scattered about.

I would appreciate it if you would ask.
(Deleted comment)
komos From: komos Date: February 17th, 2004 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)


Glad you liked them. I'm still just learning how to make this picturographic device function.
kzookitten From: kzookitten Date: February 18th, 2004 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Holy crap thats cool!

I will bargain that there are about a million just south of me too being I am about 150-esque miles away from Chicago, which was pretty much the center of the transportation world.

If you are interested in any more stuff like that, we read this one book for my environmental history class called Nature's Metropolis, I wanna say it was by Bill Cronan, but that may have been the other book.

Its fairly interesting, though the scholarly tone can dry me out really quick when Im reading stuff like that.

Its more about all the various aspects of trade and transport, and I think the main thesis was that Chicago was destined to be the center of the world... essentially. (though that also could have been Middle Ground, one of the other books we read.
komos From: komos Date: February 18th, 2004 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Holy crap thats cool!

I'd have to agree. ^_^

I honestly don't know much about canals in the midwest. I checked the National Canal Museum site, and they had this to offer.

Thanks for the book recs... I'll go digging and see what I come up with.
wisdom_seeker From: wisdom_seeker Date: February 18th, 2004 08:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I had no idea there were canals in Massachusetts! Were they mostly dug or built up like the one you show here? Or did you get inside the canal to take these pictures (i.e., dug and then lined with rocks)? Really cool.
komos From: komos Date: February 18th, 2004 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
It all depends. The system covered a lot of territory, so there were a number of different strategies used to 'bridge the gap' so to speak. This (I think) was part of an aqueduct that was partly dug, partly built. There are some structures that still exist that are entirely above ground.

Incidentally, there was one on the Wabash too.
mudguts From: mudguts Date: February 19th, 2004 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
in woburn, about half way between j&s's home and the rumford house, next to the middlesex canal, is the sight of the baldwin mansion.
its now an overpriced resturaunt.
b says there used to be a canal boat dry docked on the green there.

for what its worth.

look here for some more info on the baldwin mansion...
komos From: komos Date: February 19th, 2004 07:40 am (UTC) (Link)
One of my favorite sites for the Middlesex Canal has a large stone that was grooved by the tow lines as they went past. It's very simple, but very tactile. I love history that you can touch. Love it.
13 comments or Leave a comment