These days it’s hard to imagine an era when traveling with goods from Boston to Lowell could take several days. In a world where “next day delivery” from any part of the country has become simply commonplace we forget, that, not that many years ago, Wilmington, and many surrounding communities, came to rely on The Middlesex Canal as their lifeline to the Boston.
Commissioned in 1792 and completed in 1803, the Middlesex Canal was an engineering marvel that many say paved the way for the more famous Erie Canal to be built.
The canal itself ran 27.3 miles and reached nine towns in total, Boston, Somerville, Medford, Winchester, Woburn, Wilmington, Billerica, Chelmsford and Lowell. About 3.8 of those miles ran directly through Wilmington.
In 1967 the Middlesex Canal was dedicated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by The American Academy of Civil Engineers. A plaque commemorating the honor can be seen on the remains of the Shawsheen River Aqueduct. The Middlesex Canal also holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today in Wilmington, much of the canal is overgrown and difficult to access. The Middlesex Canal Association, however, is playing a key role in helping to educate people about the canal and preserve the once great marvel. For more information about them visit them online or stop by their Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitor Center in North Billerica.