ERIC Number: ED175745
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1975
Reference Count: 0
Towpaths to Oblivion. The Middlesex Canal and the Coming of the Railroad 1792-1853.
Holmes, Cary W.
This narrative history of the Middlesex Canal from 1792-1853 is designed to be used with "Canal," a role-playing, decision-making game found in SO 011 886. Economic, social, and political factors related to planning, building, and implementing the canal are considered. The document is presented in three parts. Part I states reasons for studying the Middlesex Canal. It was the first lengthy canal in the United States and served as a model for other canals. In addition, the problems that arose are typical of those that must be dealt with in relation to any type of transportation system. Part II describes events leading up to the canal opening in 1803, including legislative grants, court regulations, surveys, the introduction of the magnetic compass, and actual construction with its concomitant employment and technical problems. Part III outlines events and factors affecting the rise and fall of revenues, and concludes with the canal's demise in 1853 following the growth of railroad systems. 1804-1815 saw growth and extension of the canal into New Hampshire, which helped alleviate competition with the Connecticut River. From 1816-1835, the primary problem was in making the canal more attractive than hauling by land, and cloth hauling from Lowell to Boston and back was set up. However, in 1836 the Boston and Lowell Railroad was opened and canal traffic dwindled until the canal was closed in 1853. Railroads were better adapted to Massachusetts needs, because they could operate year-round, cost less to build, and were available for all to use. (CK)
Descriptors: Case Studies, Construction (Process), Decision Making, Economic Factors, Political Issues, Problem Solving, Rail Transportation, Secondary Education, Social Influences, Transportation, United States History
Publication Information Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts 02106 (free)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Learner; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Northeastern Univ., Boston, MA. Bureau of Business and Economic Research.; Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, MA.
Identifiers: New England
Note: For related documents, see SO 011 886 and ED 100 764