Things to do in Lowell, MA – Canal Boat Tours

The people who moved here are who made this city – Lowell NPS Tour Guide

I had the opportunity to recently go on a Canal Boat Tour sponsored by the City of Lowell and it was so much fun. I have lived in this city for almost 20 years; the ability to continuously learn more about Lowell and the people who made this city what it was and is made me realize why I do this Maven life. Connecting others to experiences that they themselves can enjoy and supporting small businesses and the communities around them is what I am all about. Here is my experience plus a few fun things I learned on the canal boat tour.

The tour starts behind the National Streetcar Museum next to the canal, and our tour guide started with some history. We had a big group of tourists from many different places outside of Lowell, which was so great to see. After our initial introduction to the tour, we all walked over to the trolley and rode down to the boats and pier.  Its definitely a fun way to explore, so if you haven’t hopped on for some history around Lowell, make sure you do this summer! Fun Fact: the first trolley car was built in 1981.

Fun fact: this was my first trolley ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We took a boat ride through the Pawtucket Canal starting around the Dutton Street area and the Hamilton Canal Walkway, passing Western Ave Studios and several other landmarks before arriving to our destination the Francis Gate where we learned about engineer James B. Francis and his contributions to the canal system. One thing in particular I wanted to point during our stop at Francis Gate is that everyone initially thought James B Francis was a fool for building this structure and they called it “Francis Folly”, but after this gate saved several parts of Lowell from a flood they called it “The Great Gate”.

Some more fun facts we learned on this tour:

  • Did you know there was a massive flood in Lowell called the “deluge of 1852”?
  • The canal company that built the canals in Lowell was the 2nd oldest canal company in the United States
    • The Pawtucket Canal was built in 1796
  • One of our well known neighborhoods in Lowell is called “the Acre” and we learned why during this tour – Irish immigrants who were working in the city, were given one acre of land to put tents down while they were working.
  • Did you know 1 gallon of gasoline can pollute 1 million gallons of water?

If you were wondering what fun activity you should do next, put this on your list! Tours are running daily at 11am, 2pm and 3pm through Labor Day weekend – inclusive of holidays! The tour will also run every weekend from Labor Day through Indigenous Peoples Day! Want to go on a tour of your own? You can buy tickets here.


Thanks for going on this journey with me, I hope you go on your own Canal tour history journey and let me know in the comments what you thought!


Support local, support your city.


Life as a Maven




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