Category Archives: Charles River

The Middlesex Canal – one of the oldest canals in the U.S.

The Middlesex Canal was a 27-mile canal connecting the Charles River with the Port of Boston with the Merrimack River flowing into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport, Mass., a center of shipbuilding and great wealth during the Industrial Revolution. The canal revolution began in America as a result of poor roads and the high cost of bringing goods to market.

The Middlesex Corporation was chartered by the Massachusetts state government in 1793. Many of the leading businessmen and politicians were behind the project , including Governor John Hancock, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

The Project Engineer was Loammi Baldwin, who became one of the leading authorities on the design of canals and canal locks in America. Baldwin in turn consulted with British engineer William Weston. By 1802 the canal was in operation. The canal was thirty feet wide and three feet deep. The locks were 80 feet long and 10 feet wide. One of the canal proprietors was an ancestor to one of the leading investors behind the Florida canal company that later built the Florida portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.