• Salem Maritime National Historic Site

    Salem Maritime

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

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  • 2014 Salem Maritime Festival - Saturday, August 2nd 10-4PM

    Join us for the 26th Annual Salem Maritime Festival on August 2nd from 10-4PM on Derby Wharf. Free boat rides, activities and music. More »

Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting Salem Maritime

How far is Salem from Boston?

  • Salem is only about 15 miles from Boston, but the heavy traffic means it can take an hour to drive the distance. An efficient alternative is to take public transportation, since it is only a half an hour long ride on the commuter rail line from North Station in Boston.
  • Click here for directions and public transportation information.

Can you visit Friendship?

  • Friendship is open to the public free of charge, but available dates and times vary by season. Please call the Visitor Center at 978-740-1650 to inquire about visiting Friendship.

Does Friendship sail?

  • Yes, she is a fully operational sailing vessel. At this time, only NPS staff and her volunteer crew can sail her because of U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
 

Salem's Maritime History

When was the height of Salem's East Indies trade?

  • Salem's trade with the East Indies was at its height between the end of the American Revolution in 1783 and the War of 1812.

What's privateering? Isn't it legalized piracy?

  • Privateering IS NOT piracy. The modern U.S. Naval Reserve traces its history back to the privateers of the American Revolution. Privateering was a way for western nations to increase their naval power during wartime. A merchant or captain would apply for a Letter of Marque and Reprisal, and post a substantial bond for his good behavior. As a privateer, he could only target vessels belonging to the country with which his country was at war. Any vessels he captured had to be brought back and cleared through the court system, and only then could the vessel and its cargo be sold off. In 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed, all American Letters of Marque expired, ending Revolutionary privateering.

Was there a lot of slave trading in Salem?

  • As far as can be determined from the available records, there was not any large-scale slaving in Salem, as there was in Providence and Bristol, Rhode Island. However, there are records of individual slaves being transported on Salem vessels, mainly to and from the West Indies. Salem's trade in salted codfish was also vital for the support of the great sugar plantations in the West Indies, for broken or badly cured cod was a cheap source of protein for the slaves on those plantations.
 

The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692

I have an ancestor who was involved with the witchcraft trials. How do I find out more about the trials?

  • The University of Virginia has been transcribing and mounting on the web all the extant witchcraft trial records, as well as other information about the trials. Click here to visit their web site. This link will open in a new window.

What witchcraft trial related attractions are available in Salem?

  • There are many witchcraft trial related attractions in the city of Salem. Destination Salem, the office of tourism and cultural affairs for the city, has information and links to the witchcraft trial attractions. Click here to visit the Destination Salem home page. This link will open in a new window.

Did You Know?

black and white compass rose from a recreated painted floorcloth in the Derby House at Salem Maritime NHS

The largest customs duty bill collected at the Port of Salem was $140,761 when the ship Sumatra returned from Canton in 1831.