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
This chart shows Salem Harbor today. The numbers shown on the water are sounding (depth measurements) at low tide given in feet. Note the shallowness of the harbor in this area. The deeper waters
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.
Location. 42° 31.029′ N, 70° 53.058′ W. Marker is in Salem, Massachusetts, in Essex County. Marker can be reached from Derby Street. Touch for map. The marker is along the Derby Wharf at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Marker is in this post office area: Salem MA 01970, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Salem Harbor (here, next to this marker but has been reported missing); Wharves in the Early 1800s (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); To the Farthest Port (about 300 feet away but has been reported missing); The Pedrick Store House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Central Wharf (approx. 0.3 miles away Wharves in the Late 1800s (approx. 0.3 miles away); Salem Maritime National Historic Site (approx. 0.3 miles away but has been reported missing); Derby Wharf (approx. 0.3 miles away but has been reported missing). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Salem.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 31, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 201 times since then and 17 times this year. 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.