Tuesday, May 13, 2014

History Buffs on Motorcycles

            I don’t often express this, but Andy and I just love to ride to historical places. First, they make great destinations, and second, we find them fascinating.  Any period will do from Native American, to our earliest settlers to present day. What better place to live than in New England where our country first got its foothold. The history abounds here, and is typically all in a day’s ride.

            One cold winter’s day we were driving home to New Hampshire along a stretch of highway I traveled every day for three years. Yet this day would be like no other daily commute, for on our drive home I spied a roadway sign I had never seen before, and haven’t been able to find since! (I think it was swiped.) The sign was white with large black lettering that read “Middlesex Canal”. Sure enough, with all the foliage missing because of winter I could see a very distinct pathway through the trees. The “canal” was dry but you could tell there had been something manmade there at one time. For the remainder of our travel I read aloud to Andy, from my smartphone search, the history of the Middlesex Canal in Massachusetts. There we learned about the museum in North Billerica and the Middlesex Canal Association.

          Fast forward to Mother’s Day. The sun greets us upon awakening and the day is probably the warmest it’s been since last riding season. There is no way we are staying off two wheels today. We discover the museum is open this day and free to the public! First we hightail it via Route 3, which is packed as if it were a commuter day,  it being Mother’s day and all.  But we soon arrive and spend some time at the small but friendly museum. The museum itself is located in an historic mill building; Faulkner Mill, which in its heyday, produced cotton and woolens. The New England Baseball Museum is located here too if you are a New England Sports Fan.

Faulkner Mill
(burned down and couple of times)

Gears that work to open and close the gates of the dam.

Some interesting facts about the Middlesex Canal: It is the first civil engineering project in the US. Ground first broke in 1794, and the canal’s purpose was to transport goods from Boston to the interior. It took seven hours to travel from Boston to North Billerica, which today takes only 28 minutes to drive the 33 miles. Two oxen could pull a barge for what once used to take a team of oxen to move goods overland on wheels. Some areas of the canal are still visible, however, the Association was denied permission to clear other sections and they are now considered protected wetlands. Our visit in North Billerica is where the canal was fed by the Concord River. I don’t have any photos from inside the museum, but we were able to get a few photos of the mill artifacts.

           Not sure if you can see, but there are a ton of fish (carp) just below the surface. 
(Factory mill pond.)

For the ride home, Andy took us along some very impressive byways; sweeps and rolling hills. The trees are just beginning to leaf out, and the spring flowers are rich and heady with their fragrance. All in all a very satisfying Sunday ride that incorporated two of our favorite things.

1 comment:

Debra said...

Glad you and Andy had a fun ride. You guys find the most interesting places to explore. I enjoy the photos and descriptions. Another great post, Pat!