Yesterday we took advantage of a free Sunday and some beautiful weather to take the Lowell National Park’s canal boat tour. During the summer, the tour begins every day at 11 am from the NPS Visitor Center on Market Street. You have to pre-register (more info here) and the cost is a very reasonable $8 per person for adults. Our trip was full so it’s smart to plan in advance. The Ranger-led tour takes a total of 90 minutes most of which is spent in a boat traveling along the Pawtucket Canal from the Swamp Locks (opposite the Textile History Museum on Dutton Street) onto the river. Along the way, you “lock through” a lock chamber at the Guard Locks (off Broadway on the way to the UML South campus) which is also the location of the famed Francis Gate which has saved downtown Lowell from flooding several times. You then pass underneath Pawtucket Street near what used to be Burbek’s Ice Cream stand (now Orchard Hill) and do a spin out on the river. We almost didn’t make it the full way. Heavy rain in New Hampshire the night before caused the river to rise considerably, and our boat only made it under the Pawtucket Street bridge after everyone moved off the seats and onto the floor with heads tucked down. It added an element of adventure to a trip that was already packed with interesting information and beautiful scenery. Once the tour was done, we had lunch at Life Alive on Middle Street and did some shopping in the Brush Gallery. It was a great way to spend a Sunday in Lowell. If you live in or near the city and you haven’t done the canal boat tour recently, commit to doing it this summer. It’s worth it.
Following is a video slideshow from yesterday’s canal tour: