Salem in Essex County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
Unlike other major ports such as New York, Salem Harbor had no major river to link it with inland towns and markets. The harbor was shallow – too shallow to accommodate the much larger merchant vessels built after 1840. In addition, the many islands and submerged rocks at the approach to the harbor made sailing dangerous at night or in thick weather.
To guide ships safely within the harbor, the U.S. Government built the lighthouse on your right at the tip of the wharf in 1871. The original lamp was fueled by oil, and later by acetylene gas. By 1930 the lantern was electrified. Today the lighthouse is still considered an aid to navigation. The light is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the structure is preserved by the National Park Service.
The old wharves are lonely places now, stretching out their arms for ships that never come to port.” - Caroline Howard King, When I Lived in Salem, 1822-1866, 1937
The top of this 1797 certificate of membership in the Salem Marine Society bears an engraving of Salem Harbor in 1796. Derby Wharf and its three large warehouses are still visible, but the wharf extension on which you are standing was not built until 1808. In the background lies the harbor entrance and the original twin towers of Baker’s Island Light.
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 42° 31.029′ N, 70° 53.058′ W. Marker is in Salem, Massachusetts, in Essex County. Marker can be reached from Derby Street. The marker is along the Derby Wharf at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Salem MA 01970, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wharves in the Early 1800s (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Pedrick Store House (approx. ¼ mile away); The Point Neighborhood (approx. 0.3 miles away); Wharves in the Late 1800s Derby Wharf (approx. 0.3 miles away); Central Wharf (approx. 0.3 miles away); Salem Maritime National Historic Site (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Custom House (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Salem.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 31, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 258 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 31, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.