Tour Bakers Island Light Station

Salem Harbor is home to five lighthouses, three of which are in Salem:  Derby Light is part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Pickering Light is on Winter Island, and Bakers Light is on Bakers Island.  The other two lighthouses are Hospital Point in Beverly and Marblehead Light.  You can see all of the lighthouses from boat (Salem’s harbor tours are great for that), Pickering Light and Derby Light are accessible by foot, and beginning on July 1 you can tour Bakers Island Light Station on a guided tour provided by the Essex National Heritage Commission.

Bakers Island is a 60 acre island that is primarily occupied by a private summer colony.  The light station occupies 11 acres on the northern side of the island, and tours to Bakers Island Light will include a beach landing, tour around the base of the lighthouse, and return trip to Salem Wharf.  (Note: Tours to Bakers Island Light Station do not include other parts of the island, and tour participants are strictly prohibited from leaving the 11 acres of the light station.

Visit EssexHeritage.org for complete information on visiting Bakers Island Light Station, and click here to purchase tickets, which can also be purchased at the Salem Regional Visitor Center or at the dock.

Weather permitting, trips will go out at 11 am, 2pm, and 4:30 pm daily. Tickets cost $35 for adults, $32 for children. The Naumkeag holds no more than 17 passengers, so advance tickets are recommended. Access to Bakers Island is via a beach landing on a rocky beach, and passengers must be able to disembark, walk across the beach, and walk up a steep incline to get to the light station. People interested in taking the tour should read all restrictions and the FAQs answered by Essex Heritage prior to purchasing tickets.

Click here for the history of Bakers Island, as well as additional reading.

 

Salem Celebrates the Fourth

Festivities include the reading of the Declaration of Independence, children’s events, a military flyover, Pops concert, and Fireworks.

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Mayor Kimberley Driscoll is pleased to announce that Salem will hold its Independence Day celebration at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on Derby Wharf on Monday, July 4th.

“There’s no better place to celebrate Independence Day than in historic Salem,” said Mayor Driscoll. “Start off bright and early at Salem Common for the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence, spend the day visiting the City’s numerous historic sites and attractions, dine at one of dozens of remarkable restaurants, and end your day at historic Derby Wharf for all of the festivities.”

“This year we are very excited to have a flyover by the 104th Fighter Wing from Barnes Air National Guard Unit,” Mayor Driscoll added. The 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard is located in Westfield, Massachusetts and proudly claims the honor of being one of the oldest flying units within the Commonwealth. “As the birthplace of the National Guard, it is especially meaningful for Salem to have a flyover by the 104th.” Salem Common was the site of the first muster in 1637 and continues to host the annual National Guard muster to this day.

“Salem is fortunate to have such a generous business community that continues to support this celebration,” Mayor Driscoll commented. “I’d like to express a special thank you to our Skyrocket Sponsors: Footprint Power – Salem Harbor Station, Salem Five, Tropical Products, and Walmart, along with our Star Spangled Sponsors: Aggregate Industries, Tache Real Estate, Market Basket, Eastern Bank, and KV Associates.”

Free children’s activities begin at 4:00 p.m. with the opening of the Kids’ Space, where young ones can play games, win prizes and get their faces painted, all thanks to the generosity of the MeetingHouse Church in Salem and Walmart. Also, look for the MAGIC 106.7 street team along with the MGH Pediatrics tent on-site with lots of cool give-a-ways.

Food tents on site also open at 4:00 p.m. with hot dogs, French fries, fried dough, kettle corn, and other fair favorites.

Live entertainment on the Main Stage begins at 5:00 p.m. The DITTO band will entertain the crowd on main stage. DITTO has entertained audiences for over forty years, playing play mainstream music classics of James Taylor, Neil Young, Harry Chapin, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Beatles, and many others.

Opening Ceremonies begin at 7:15 p.m. when Mayor Driscoll and other local dignitaries will lead a parade down the wharf accompanied by the Salem Veterans Honor Guard and Salem Boy Scout troops. The National Anthem will be sung by Nadine Adisho, Leah Morgenstern, Danielle Gautier and Tyler Leger of Salem High School’s a cappella group Witch Pitch?.
Immediately following opening ceremonies Maestro Dirk Hillyer and his orchestra has another great program in store for us. Dr. Hillyer commented, “This year we are doing a 50 year anniversary of the music from 1966—The Mamas and the Papas (California Dreamin’), Beach Boys (Good Vibrations), Henry Mancini film hits (Pink Panther, Peter Gunn), and cartoon favorites like Flintstones! Of course we’ll do our popular Tchaikowsky 1812 Overture to the fireworks along with other patriotic greats! Bring your blanket and join in on the fun!”

For this year’s intermission entertainment we have two treats. Some talented 8th grade singers from Salem’s Collins Middle School will be performing and members of the Marblehead Little Theater will entertain us with songs from Broadway.

At 9:15 p.m., Salem ends its Independence Day celebration with a fireworks extravaganza, accompanied live by the Hillyer Festival Orchestra playing the 1812 Overture and other patriotic live music throughout the entire fireworks display.24-July_4_062

Part of the allure of this celebration is its setting. The first National Historic Site in the National Park System, Salem Maritime National Historic Site consists of nine acres of waterfront land and houses a dozen historic structures. These include the Custom House, where famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne worked, and Derby Wharf, which was used by America’s first millionaire, Salem merchant Elias Hasket Derby. With historic Salem Harbor, including hundreds of boats moored and the replica of a 1700’s sailing vessel, the Friendship, as a backdrop, Independence Day in Salem is filled with the history that helped make American the free nation it is today.

Please note the following information for those planning to attend the July 4th celebrations in Salem this weekend:

Be safe. To ensure a safe and fun celebration, the Salem Police Department will have enhanced security in place on July 4th. Guests are asked to carry any items in clear plastic bags and be prepared for possible bag checks.

Say something. If you see something, say something to uniformed police at the celebration. In addition to officers who will be moving throughout the area all evening, you can also always find officers at the public safety tent, which will be clearly identifiable on site. Concerns can also be called into the Salem Police at (978) 744-1212.

Derby Wharf access. Police will be monitoring access points into the Derby Wharf area throughout the afternoon and evening. Please plan for additional time to arrive at the wharf for the festivities.

Road closures. Derby Street from Herbert Street to Daniels Street, and Orange Street and Curtis Street at Essex Street, will all be closed to traffic on Saturday from 5:00 pm. until 11:00 p.m.

Avoid driving to Derby Wharf. Seek parking downtown in a lot (parkinginsalem.com), or at Museum Place Garage on New Liberty Street or the South Harbor Garage on Congress Street, which are available for parking at $5 for the day, with the proceeds helping to fund the July 4th celebration. There is overflow parking at Shetland Properties on Congress Street, or take the commuter rail or Salem Ferry (salemferry.com) to avoid anticipated traffic congestion. The last MBTA trains depart Salem station at 10:40 p.m. (southbound) and 10:51 p.m. (northbound).

Handicapped parking. There is limited handicap parking at Derby Wharf and in the Immaculate Conception parking lot on Hawthorne Boulevard, which is first-come first-serve, and there is a mobility impaired/wheelchair seating section reserved at the beginning of Derby Wharf, so attendees do not have to traverse the park’s terrain.

Don’t bring fireworks. Salem has adopted the maximum fines allowable for both the sale ($1,000 fine) and use ($200 fine) of fireworks. In addition, a dedicated police unit will be tasked with enforcing the laws prohibiting the private use of fireworks. Please help ensure a safe July 4th for all and leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Harbor access. Recreational boaters and other craft will be restricted from the area around Derby Wharf and the channel in Salem Harbor and the South River for much of the evening. Mariners can call the Harbormaster’s Office at 978-741-0098 or on VHF 16 for emergencies after hours or for more information.

For more information check salem.com, follow the event on Facebook, or call Salem City Hall at 978-745-9595, ext. 5676.

Salem MA July 4

Morning Independence Day Event in Salem

Monday, July 4

Join Mayor Driscoll on Salem Common at 9:00 a.m. for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Dann Maurno will read the document. Bob Kendall will provide piano music, a quintet from Salem High School’s Witch Pitch? will sing the National Anthem, and audience singing will be led by Maureen Dalton. Coffee will be provided by the Salem Common Neighborhood Association.

Four Ways to Set Sail in Salem Sound

Being on the water has its advantages: Cool summer breezes, beautiful sunrises, and harbor tours to name a few.  Here are four ways to find your sea legs in Salem this summer.
Schooner FAME & Hannah Salem
1.  Schooner FAME of  Salem.  Climb aboard this wooden boat, a replica of the 1812 privateer FAME , which sails out of Pickering Wharf daily May-October. Check their schedule for sunset cruises, summer camp (fun!), and their Rum & Revolution series.  SchoonerFAME.com

2.  Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises will take you out on their repurposed lobster boat, the Finback, or the larger Hannah Glover. Offering Cocktail, Sunset, and Narrated Sightseeing Cruises all summer long, you may need to plan a longer visit to Salem.  MahiCruises.com

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3.  Sea Shuttle offers harbor tours aboard the 45′ catamaran, Endeavor. Leaving from Salem Willows, Sea  Shuttle offering daily harbor cruises, trips to Misery Island, and special Fireworks Cruises.  Kids will love the touch tank, which always has a different array of sea creatures that came up in local lobster traps.  Sea-Shuttle.com

4. Salem Ferry is the best way to travel between Salem and Boston. Leaving from Salem Wharf at Blaney Street, the high-speed catamaran will have you at Long Wharf in Boston (adjacent to the New England Aquarium) in 55 minutes.  SalemFerry.com

Photo Contest Pick of the Month

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Our “pick of the month” favorite photo for May was extremely competitive! Thanks to everyone who submitted pictures. Good luck in the year-end competition in December.

The winner is Veronica Adams’ photograph of Bridget Bishop’s stone at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. Congratulations!

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Think you have a winning image of Salem? Submit it to our Photo Contest!

Bridget Bishop, Hanged, June 10, 1692

bridget_bishop_stone_salemHysteria, wrongly accused for a crime you didn’t commit, tried, and hanged; try and picture what life was like in Salem Village, 1692.  The people of Salem Village had to face an immeasurable number of elements that constantly worked against them: unpredictable weather with no protection against the bitter New England cold, performed back-breaking daily chores their farmland needed, and maintained the mindset of the Puritan religion: the fear that the devil exists and might very well walk among us.

The courts during that time functioned completely different than the ones we know today, and allowed the inclusion of spectral evidence.  Spectral evidence was when the witness would testify that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to her/him in a dream at the time that their physical body was at another location.  It was because of this “evidence” that 19 people were hanged and one man was pressed to death during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

The first person to be tried, found guilty, and hanged on June 10, was the innocent Bridget Bishop.  Bridget was known throughout the Salem area for her un-Puritan like behavior of flamboyant dress, tavern frequenting, and multiple marriages.  In an effort to avoid being hanged, Bridget admitted guilt and denounced her good name in the community.  She was found guilty by the testimonials of numerous townspeople (more than any other defendant) and was therefore executed on June 10, 1692.

– Margaret Kazan, Destination Salem

Spotlight on the Salem Witch Trials

The Trial of George JacobsWe commemorated the anniversary of the hanging of Bridget Bishop, the first victim of the Salem Witch Trials, on June 10.  The Witch House hosted an excellent lecture by historian Margo Burns as well as a brief ceremony at the Witch Trials Memorial.  Bridget Bishop was the first of twenty to be condemned and executed during the Salem witchcraft hysteria of 1692.

The Salem Witch Trials are a fascinating time in American history, and the stories of the victims and their accusers have withstood the test of time, holding the fascination of people from around the world.  Any great story changes and evolves as it is told and retold, and from time to time it is good to check back in with the facts.  There are many misconceptions of the Trials and the hysteria, as well as frequently asked questions, and the Salem Witchcraft Trials has inspired retellings in literature and film for centuries.

Here is our “top-ten” list of misconceptions, frequently asked questions, and favorite retellings.

It all happened in Danvers, not Salem.  The Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 happened throughout the region, with accused and accusers coming from Salem, Ipswich, Gloucester, Andover, Methuen, and other communities.  Salem Village is now the town of Danvers, and some of the sites associated with the trials and hysteria are in Danvers.  Salem Town, modern day Salem, is where the trials actually took place, as well as the hangings and the pressing of Giles Corey.  The Salem Award Foundation has produced a Visitor’s Guide to 1692, which is available through Destination Salem, the Salem Regional Visitor Center, and several participating sites.

Gallows Hill is a soccer field today.  Maybe, but maybe not. There is definitely a soccer field up on a hill in a neighborhood that is called, “Gallows Hill.” That much is true. That said, the location of the gallows or hanging tree (we are not sure which was used) is not on any modern map.  We recommend people go to the Witch Trials Memorial, adjacent to the Old Burying Point, to remember the victims and consider the past.  Please treat the Memorial with respect when you visit, and note that the Witch Trials Memorial is closed between dusk and dawn.

The House of the Seven Gables was part of the Salem Witch Trials. The mansion does date back to 1668, so it was here during the trials, but the house itself does not have direct ties to the Witch Trials. The Turner family lived in the house in the 17th-century, and they made their fortune at sea.  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great-great-grandfather was Judge John Hathorne, one of the “hanging judges” during the trials, and his involvement with the Witchcraft Hysteria drove Hawthorne to add the w to his name and write The House of the Seven Gables, which is fiction.

The victims really were witches. Doubtful.  It is equally doubtful that the accusers were witches.  The Salem Witchcraft Trials were a social hysteria that spun out of control.

The accused were “swum” to determine if they were a witch.  Not in Salem. The practice of swimming a witch was widespread in Europe, and it was used in Connecticut, but not in Salem.

Victims were burned at the stake.  Not in Salem.  Burning at the stake was punishment for heresy, a crime against the church, in Europe.  Witchcraft was a felony in the colonies, a crime against the government.

The Hysteria ended in October.  The Court of Oyer and Terminer was dissolved by Governor Phips in October, and a new Superior Court was convened to try the remaining witchcraft cases. The Superior Court condemned three additional people in January 1693, but Governor Phips pardoned them and all who were still imprisoned on the charge of witchcraft.  Not everyone was freed, however, as prisoners had to pay for their imprisonment before being released.

On stageThe Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a remarkable play that is set in Salem in 1692. Miller wrote the story as allegory for the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that was having its own social witch hunt for communism in the 1950s.  The play is fiction, inspired by actual events and actual people.  Historian Margo Burns writes more in her essay, “Picky, Picky, Picky.”

On the big screen: Hocus Pocus is definitely fiction, but it sure is fun.  A bigger hit in DVD and on network television each October than it was in theatres when it was released in 1993, the story of the Sanderson sisters, starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimi is one of our favorites, and many of the locations where they filmed in Salem are still here, and were featured in the 2013 Guide to Salem Haunted Happenings.

In literature: The Heretic’s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent, is about Martha Carrier’s family. Told from the perspective of Martha’s daughter, Sarah, it is a wonderful work of fiction inspired by actual events.  Katherine Howe’s novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, is also an engaging work of historical fiction inspired by the events of 1692.

Resources and References:

The Salem Award Foundation gives the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice annually and maintains the Witch Trials Memorial.

The Salem Witch Museum FAQ Page, Witch Trials Weekly, and Miscellany

Salem Witch Trials Documents Archive and Transcription Project, University of Virginia

17thc.us, Historian Margo Burns

Books:

Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth Century New England, David D. Hall

In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Mary Beth Norton

The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, Marilynne K. Roach

Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, Bernard Rosenthal

Salem.org