Yesterday I re-visited Blackstone, MA to pick up the Blackstone Viaduct for waymarking. Waymarking is a place to log places you have visited by category. They have well over 1000 categories and I specialize in National Historic Places. Today's quest is for the Blackstone Canal Historic District. This cover 8 towns and I am doing Millville today.
The Blackstone Canal is pretty hard to document with photos, since much of the canal is way off the beaten path or simply no longer visible. With a bit of research, you see the trenches off to the side of roads and the river, you find these are part of the canal.
The Canal was built between 1825 and 1828, covered 47.5 miles between Worcester and Providence, and closed in 1848. The trains came and made it obsolete.
Around 10:30am I pull up to the Millville Lock #21 parking lot. There a few cars and people getting back into their cars. My guess they just finished a walk down the Southern New England Trunkline Trail.
I see another couple get out of their car, and I immediately head towards them, saying "Excuse me, Do you know how far the Millville Lock is". The guys says "About a mile from here" I have no clue how far a mile is any more. Back in the day, and I mean day, walking a mile, swimming a mile, was nothing. I just assumed it would be true today.
So I head out. Theres the couple that told me how far the canal was.
And walk some more and more
Finally see pay dirt
When I get to the edge I am saying to myself, "This doesn't look like the canal lock I have seen in the pictures. It just a bunch of train bridges".
If you look just to the right of the bridge, you can see a structure. I am saying to myself, that can't be. What are we suppose to cross the bridge. For a moment I actually thought about venturing out of the iron beams. They looked wide enough to walk across. Good thing I gave up that idea.
Then I said to myself, maybe the locks are down at the bottom and I just can't see them from here. Both sides kinda of look liked they had a pathway down to them. Without regard for my age, physical well being (or should that be pitiful bad being) and abilities, I started the descent.
This was not a gentle descent, this was an old railroad track bed that crosses a river. The pitch had to be 60 degrees, lots of leaves, mud and snow. Once false move, one slight trip and I would have found myself at the bottom lickety split.
At the bottom I was greeted with prickly bush limbs that were grabbing a hold of my clothes and trying to rip them off. No canal lock down here. Might as well take some pictures
As they say what comes down, must go up. Well that might not what Newton had in mind, but for me I had to get back to the top. There just was no way I was gonna bushwack my way back to the parking lot.
When I looked at the challenge in front of me and fighting off the prickly bushes some more, I realized I should have given some more thought to making this descent. This is the embankment, which is how I have to go back up.
Let's just say the climb back up was not at all pretty. Like the descent, once false move, one loose tree branch I was grabbing on, or just a moment of loss of footing, I would fnd myself back at the bottom with the prickly bushes. Only difference would be, this would be akin to a back flip, with a twist, degree of difficulty 3.0.
I make it to the top and my lungs about to explode. My heart I didn't even feel it, it probably died on the way up or the lungs covered masked the sound. Still haven't recovered from the three pack a day habit from 12 years ago. Sitting for awhile would be a good thing. I could review where I have been, where I need to go and just take in the cool crisp air of a winter day. At least now I have a perception how far a mile is.
I did start to wonder, what if I had a heart attack. I did have the cell phone and I could call MeAsWe ( I did invite her, but she declined), I had my hand held GPS, I could give her the coordinates and maybe make the news that night. Enough of that.
The walk back was pretty much like the walk to get here. Matter of fact it was exactly the same. It just doesn't look as green and colorful as getting there.
Off in the distance I see movement. It is a truck and I realize I am almost to the parking lot. What a welcomed sight this was. I felt like Merriweather Lewis however I did discover the Northwest Passage, whereas the two did not.
If you look to the right of the gate you can make out something that looks like a stand. There are maps in there. I pull one, sit down at the picnic table and realize I was not at the Millville Lock, but at the Triad Bridges. I can't believe that couple led me astray. They probably walk this every weekend together to stay fit, but they don't have a clue about the history of what they are walking. How do you ask, "How far is the Millville Lock" and then immediately follow up with "Are you positive".
The map indicates that the Millville lock is about half way down the trail I went and the hooks off to the left. There was a Millville officer sitting at the head of the parking lot. I walked over to him and confirmed what I had learned. He said if you head down Hope Street, it is just off there a little bit.. He also said, "I don't know if you can get in that way, there are private residences back there".
I thanked him and as I was walking away, thinking, when did obstacles ever stop me. I walked from the Blue Flag to the Square 003. Just above it you can see Hope St. I drove to the end of the street.
There were 2 guys outside, at the last house on the street, working on a car. I asked them if they knew where the Millville Lock was. One of the guys leads me into his back yard and points down to into the gully, "You can see the stones from here through the trees. It's just down there"
I didn't come this far not to get a picture of the lock.
All for a picture for something I chased. It's a hard habit to break.