Civil Engineering and Tasty Apples - Loammi Baldwin's Massachusetts

Civil Engineering and Tasty Apples - Loammi Baldwin's Massachusetts

Loammi Baldwin is often called the Father of American Civil Engineering.

A Colonel in the Continental Army, Baldwin oversaw construction of the Middlesex Canal in Massachusetts.

Furthermore, Baldwin spread the cultivation of a variety of apple which today has his name attached to it.

Loammi Baldwin

In response to the actions of British soldiers, Loammi Baldwin led his Massachusetts Militiamen to Lexington and Concord where they participated in that famous battle.

In six months, Baldwin was promoted from Major in his militia to Colonel in the Continental Army.

Loammi spent the summer and fall of 1775 surveying the land around Boston, talking with spies inside the city, and reviewing the movement of Navy ships in the harbor. He regularly sent reports to General George Washington during this time, acting as an important asset during the Siege of Boston.

Civil Engineer

Baldwin stayed with the Main Army long enough to participate in the Crossing of the Delaware and Battle of Trenton, but resigned soon after due to poor health.

He was elected to several offices over the next two decades and participated in the creation of Massachusetts’ first constitution.

In the 1790’s Baldwin became a charter member and vice president of the Middlesex Canal Corporation. This organization’s goal was to connect the Merrimack River to the port at Boston.

Loammi was chosen as the head engineer for the project. It took almost a full decade, but when completed the Middlesex Canal made transportation of goods to and from the frontier significantly quicker.

The Baldwin Boys

Loammi Baldwin’s time working on the Middlesex Canal had several more interesting effects on Massachusetts than simply speeding up shipping.

Firstly, Baldwin’s sons all became great American Engineers in the early and mid 19th century. Four of these men (ranging in age from 11 to 20 when construction began) worked with their father on the Middlesex Canal, learning about many of the innovations Loammi oversaw on the site. A fifth brother was born during the project.

All five Baldwin boys contributed to canals, bridges, naval yards and railroad lines which now dot the northeastern United States.

Baldwin’s Apple

Loammi also had another contribution to his country at this time, though it is not a feat of engineering.

During the surveying process for the Middlesex Canal, Baldwin was shown a Woodpecker Apple.

This strain of fruit, which was unique to Massachusetts, had been known about for 50 years, but was not commonly grown. Baldwin recognized its potential, as it had an extremely long shelf life.

He began cultivating it on his own farm and it is now known as the Baldwin Apple.

The Baldwin Apple became extremely popular throughout the New York and New England and still remains in production today.


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Loammi Baldwin’s effect on the shape of American cities (literally) is hard to understate.

‘A Sketch of the Life and Works’ looks further at the great accomplishments of this Patriot.

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