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Early Transportation Canals of the Merrimack River
This presentation will provide an overview of the Merrimack River as an artery of transportation, and show and describe what remains of the system today. Before they were adapted to power New England mills, the falls and rapids of the Merrimack River were serious obstructions to travel. These impediments, and the absence of good roads, drove more than a decade of efforts to improve river navigability.
Between 1792 and 1848, nine companies constructed 13 canals, incorporating 36 locks, along the main river channel between Concord NH and the sea or, via the Middlesex Canal, to Boston. Lesser improvements were made by a few of these companies at several more rapids. Additional canals were built by still other firms near the mouths of the Nashua and Piscataquog Rivers, and possibly at one or more industrial sites.
An exhibit that will accompany the presentation consists of an eclectic
collection of photos (both aerial and on site), plot plans, and blue prints
- keyed to map locations - for each of the sites. Working from the materials
available, the presentation will briefly describe what remains of the
various channels, locks and dams, and note several potential archeological
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