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Historic Salem, Massachusetts..

Posted by on June 23, 2015

JUNE 23, 2015


The weather set the perfect mood for our visit to Salem. 

SETTING THE STAGE. It began a little after midnight…at first an almost imperceptible tapping on the roof that seemed to start and stop in the darkness.  Later, as dawn crept into the campground, it became steadier, though still very light. Rain. By morning, it was still faint…but now persistent…nearly hidden by a hovering whisper of fog. The treetops emerged from it as if searching for breath. It was quiet. Birds and squirrels were about, but none of their early morning chatter that usually announces the coming of day. No, it was quiet…almost eerily quiet. And still quite dark, considering the hour. The mood was somber, melancholic. A perfect day to visit Salem, to learn about witchcraft and witch trials, we decided. Salem, Massachusetts, probably the best place in the country to be on Halloween. Or on a Halloween-like day like today. Let’s go.

gables3ABOUT SALEM. The city of Salem is located 17 miles north of Boston on the Atlantic Ocean. Although it is best known for the infamous witch trials of 1692, which resulted in the execution of 20 innocent people, this coastal town has other, less sensational claims to fame. Founded in 1626, Salem grew to become one of New England’s busiest 18th and 19th century seaports, its harbor filled with clipper ships carrying treasures from around the globe. Present-day Salem is a bustling, good-natured town that has the ability to celebrate its rich artistic and architectural heritage, all the while playing up its popular image as the witchcraft capital of America.

WITCH TRIALS. In 1692, Salem was swept by a wave of hysteria during which 200 citizens were accused of practicing witchcraft. In all, 150 people were jailed and 19 were hung as witches, while another man was crushed to death with stones. No one was safe. Two dogs were executed on the gallows for being witches. Not surprisingly, when the Governor’s wife became a suspect, the witch trials came to an abrupt and officially sanctioned end.


By the time we arrived at the House of Seven Gables, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Remember, “If you don’t like the weather in Massachusetts, just wait a minute.”

THE WITCH HOUSE. Our first stop was at The Witch House. It was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin and is the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the Witchcraft Trials of 1692.

As a local magistrate, Corwin was called upon to investigate the claims of diabolical activity when a surge of witchcraft accusations arose in Salem. He presided over the trials which ultimately sent nineteen people to the gallows. All nineteen refused to admit to witchcraft and maintained their innocence until the end. The Salem Witch Trials were the product of a social hysteria that spun out of control.

During our tour, we experienced authentic 17th century architecture and furnishings. We learned something about lifestyles of the time and got some insight into the events of 1692.


The Witch House in Salem, home to the Judge who presided over the trials which sent nineteen people to the gallows after convictions for practicing witchcraft. 


A walk-in fireplace in the Judge’s home. All of the cooking was done here in Colonial Times.


About meals during Colonial times in America.


Why are the Witch Trials important today?














HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES. The House is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England…about 350 years old, and the namesake for the famous Gothic novel of the same name written in 1850 by the American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. The setting for the book was inspired by the seven gabled house in Salem which was owned by ancestors of Hawthorne who played a part in the famous witch trials of 1692. In the book, Hawthorne explores the themes of guilt, retribution and atonement and colors the tale with suggestions of the supernatural and witchcraft. I remember reading the book when I was 15 years old and visited this house for the first time when on a trip across the country with my parents. Perhaps I’ll read it again…we are so immersed in history here in New England!


House of Seven Gables. Circa 1668.


Dining Room at House of Seven Gables.

SALEM HARBOR. Today, the harbor is a bustling port, lined with luxury yachts in the marina, waterfront hotels and restaurants and ferry service to and from Boston. Historically, during the American Revolutionary War, merchant ships were enlisted as privateers, an important role to supplement the ill-prepared Continental Navy. Private merchant ships were enlisted to attack enemy ships in the Atlantic. George Washington’s Army numbered 11,000 men. There were 11,000 privateers at sea fighting for independence.


Salem Harbor. June 2015.


Salem harbor. Circa 1700.



Salem street scene.


This witch wasn’t very frightening!














Available for charter in Salem Harbor.



“Witch Supplies” are available around town. 













WHAT A DAY. What a great day we had exploring Salem. It is yet another New England town so captivating and rich in colonial American history that we’d love to have stayed a week. And there are some Inns, Bed and Breakfasts and waterfront boutique hotels that would make that stay extra special. Hmmm…we’re starting to think that because there’s so very much in this part of the country to see, to learn and to experience, we may return for another visit after our upcoming winter stay in Gulf Shores. That’s the joy of full-time motorhome travel: We can go where we want, stay as long as we want and return if we choose to do so.


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