BallardVale in the Early 20th
Boating on the
Even after the murder in August of 1900, local recreation still
abounded in BallardVale. The German Club took picnics down the
river and Sunday school classes came to The Grove. One could take an
excursion boat from Abbot Bridge (Central Street) down to the
Parker's on the Shawsheen was the place to go in the 1920s. In the
early 1900s there was fun for everyone on the Shawsheen River -
swimming and skating parties, hockey games and iceboating; and,
especially, the wonderful water sports on the 4th of July: canoe
races, canoe tilting contests and diving contests.
Townsman reported that Parker's already had their canoes and boats
and a canoe house when they built a new two-story building: the
canoe house on the first floor and the dance hall above it. So
instead of the train dropping passengers off at the Grove site, the
trains were now stopping at the BallardVale Station to discharge
passengers for a night of dancing at Jack 'O Lantern Ballroom to the
music of well-known orchestras. As one local reported, "If it was
too warm to dance you could always hire a canoe and cool off. The
train would be back at midnight to take you home."
of the families that rented canoes was the Serio family whose home
was located "off Lowell Junction Road." During the 1930s, 40s and
50s, Frank Serio rented about 8 to 10 canoes from his boathouse
during the summer. During the 1950s he had a boat called "Miami"
that he also kept in the boathouse. The boathouse locally thus
became known as the Miami Boathouse.
Canoeing on the river was much more popular then because Mr. Serio
was allowed to raise the BallardVale Dam by two feet with heavy
planks every spring. This kept the water level two feet higher than
it is today and made a significant difference in all river
activities. The planks to the Dam were removed each fall for the
winter season and reinstalled each spring. The Serio family home and
boathouse were later sold and became part of the old Reichhold
property that is now known as the "Meadow Wood" conservation land
owned by the Town.
continued, next edition, Aug. 9, 2008