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The Town & the City: Lowell before and after The Civil War

Originally created to be a digital archive for Lowell documents from 1826 to 1861, this website has grown to cover many periods and events in Lowell's history.

Thoreau in Lowell & Chelmsford

Middlesex Village as it looked in 1839 when Thoreau and his brother went through the village on the canal.
The locks they passed through are depicted the bottom center of the mural.  
(Mural on the Chelmsford Center Artwalk of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail)

"By noon we were let down into the Merrimack through the locks at Middlesex, just above Pawtucket Falls,
by a serene and
liberal-minded man, who came quietly from his book, though his duties, we supposed, did
not require him to open the locks on Sundays.  With him we had a just and equal encounter of the eyes,
as between two honest men."

The book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David an account of a canoe trip from Concord, Massachusetts to Concord, New Hampshire, and back to Concord. Massachusetts. Thoreau’s companion was his brother John.died of tetanus in 1842 The dates of the trip were August 31 to September 13, 1839, so the trip was actually two weeks.

The first draft of the book was completed between 1845 and 1847 while Thoreau was living at Walden Pond. He was unable to find a publisher and had it published at his own expense in 1849. Few copies were sold and he was left with several hundred unsold copies and went into debt. A slightly revised version with Thoreau’s own edits, was published in 1868, six years after Thoreau’s death.

Related links - 

Chelmsford from  the Mapping Thoreau Country website

Lowell from the Mapping Thoreau Country website

Map of the 1839 Excursion from the Mapping Thoreau Country website