Dead and Buried: The Graveyard of Worcester's Blackstone Canal  
 

 

Introduction

Rumor has it that there was a canal that flowed through the heart of Worcester, Massachusetts. Rumor also says that this canal flowed down along the Blackstone River into the tidewaters of Providence, Rhode Island. This canal is said to have made Worcester an inland seaport forty-five miles away from the nearest seawater. Yet there are no open waters in the center of Worcester; there are no signs of a canal. However, these rumors, as grand as they may seem, are completely true.

This canal, the Blackstone Canal, connected the then-tiny town of Worcester to the seaport of Providence and gave the people of early nineteenth-century Central Massachusetts an outlet to the sea. "But if this is true," you ask, "where is the canal today?" The answer is beneath the streets of Worcester, buried like any other long-dead creature. Over one hundred years ago, the growing city of Worcester arched over and buried the majority of its portion of the Blackstone Canal.

To understand why the Canal was buried, one must look beyond the needs of the city in the 1870s. One must look back at the history of the canal itself and why it was doomed to failure before the first spade broke ground. Only after one has studied its limitations can one understand why the canal was so easily discarded, much like the sewer that was dumped into it.

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© 2002: John Carter. All Rights Reserved.