This past weekend we headed into Salem, the location of the famous witch hunts, where legends arise. Everyone recommended the House of the Seven Gables so we decided to start the day there. Having a little time before our tour began we decided to check out the other buildings on the grounds. The birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne, which we learned on our tour was moved to the grounds to be protected, was neat with all the quotes on the walls. There was also this cool half boat for pictures, or to amuse children, that I had to take advantage of since this is the closest I may get him to being on a boat.We don’t want to ruin the tour but I will say that there is a hidden passage involved. That made the whole tour worth while, plus it was pretty interesting.
Just across the road from the House of the Seven Gables is the Ye Olde Pepper Company, which is a must for your visit. We were honestly expecting it to cost a small fortune, because of someones love of chocolate, but found the prices to be within reason. I had also read somewhere to try the old fashioned clove candy and were pleasantly surprised.
We decided to head downtown for lunch at a place called the Scratch Kitchen. As we walked into the cafe we were greeted by 2 servers. After several minutes of them talking to themselves while we looked on, wondering if maybe we were invisible, they did actually acknowledge us. We followed our hostess around the corner and were placed at a 2 seat, rather small table, in the back. We were given a couple menus and told our server would be with us in a few minutes. We both gathered our menus, being ready to eat two of everything on the menu, made up our minds and were ready to give our order. There was probably 7 other people in the cafe, but set up in three other tables, so not over busy. Our minds started to wander to what else we were going to do for the day. We realized we had been sitting there for 10 mins or so with no signs of our server. Rebecca said she was ready to eat the table if somebody didn’t wait on us soon, so off she went to look for our server. She did find her sitting at the front not even aware of us being there. She was very apologetic when she arrived to take our order. I got my all american burger, it is my go to when I am really hungry, I mean how bad can you mess up a burger. Rebecca got a grilled cheese sandwich and some clam chowder, she is the brave one when it comes to ordering new things. We were intrigued by something I have never heard of…bacon dusted fries. I mean its bacon on fries what could be bad about that. The first thing to arrive is her order of clam chowder. She did her famous smile and went for the first scoop, at this point she usually says ahhh that is good. Those words did not come from her lips today, instead they were replaced by a mere OK expression. I know she was less then impressed because she never leaves her soup unfinished, but half the cup was remaining when we left. My bacon cheeseburger was typical, maybe a little under cooked, but it was OK. Ready to try those bacon dusted fries, they arrived golden brown with a light white powder coating them. I placed several on my tongue and waited for that heavenly bacon taste to overcome my taste buds but sadly it was replaced with a sweet tasting smoky flavor. Don’t get me wrong it wasnt bad, it was actually pretty good, but when your heart was ready for what only bacon can give you it was just more of a surprise.
We finished our lunch and headed out to get to the bottom of these witch stories. Now the nice thing was the red line on the road, yes there is a red line on the sidewalk, as you walk around the town. For me all I could sing in my head was follow the yellow brick road, so off we went our eyes constantly searching for those famous pictures of those churches and stables where you heard of all the stories of where the witches were burned alive and the trees where some of them might have been hung. None of the Salem witches we burned of course that was the European Witch trials. We traveled on that red line for an hour so and about the only thing we saw was store after store, more of an open mall feeling then a spooky old era witch hunt, and several museums ranging in price averaging around $20 for both of us. The were some neat looking buildings and a old cemetery right in town that caught our attention.
Now I guess to some people $10 for a museum is not to bad, but what if you are traveling with a family? Or even decided to check out multiple exhibits? You could easily wander around Salem and spend a small fortune on the tourist trap. We were working with a budget so we decided to head out of town and find a cheaper alternative to the past.
We drove a bit out of town and headed to Winter Island, the home of Fort Pickering. As a history buff I was pretty intrigued even though I had no idea what it was at the time. Its basically an island connected by a causeway that was used as an early settlement in the 1620’s. During its early years it was used for a fish drying and had Salem’s first shipyard and tavern. However the interesting part is during the civil war it was fortified and several bunkers still remain, that were used by the north to store weapons.
After leaving Winter Island we headed into the town of Danvers, which was known as Salem Village at the time of the Salem Witch trials. The infamous Witch Trials ended the lives of 19 by hanging on Gallows Hill, one man was pressed to death by a stones, and many others died in prison. We stopped to visit the memorial that was erected in 1992. There is a sadness and injustice that surrounds this event in history like so many others.
There was one more stop in Danvers that we had to find..the old Danvers State Hospital. This place was renamed many times during it years of operations but this is the most friendly name so we will stick with it. The Danvers State Hospital was operational from 1878 until it finally closed it doors in 1992. It then stood empty until 2006 when it was purchased by a company to build apartments and condo’s. The hospital, which from old photo’s we found online here, was an enormous campus looming way up on a hill.
Now I don’t know about you, but even my enjoyment of all things creepy has its limits. These include what happened in this so called “mental hospital” it just goes to show how far medicine has progressed. Unfortunately now all that remains is a growing cemetery of the forgotten souls that met their end while residing in this hospital. To get to the cemetery you drive straight, instead of turning into the parking lot of the creepy remains from the past, to a small parking lot on your right. Here is where Rebecca had to do some convincing that she had a clue where to find the cemetery. You follow the sidewalk toward the condo’s and just before they begin there is a gravel path, that I thought was someones drive. Continue down the path toward the woods until you find the opening of the cemetery. There are a growing number of markers being placed with names, instead of just a number, now being connected to the decaying remains that lay beneath. It is somewhat encouraging that there is now a committee that meets to recall the patients name and match them with a grave in the cemetery. While we were there nothing supernatural was spotted, much to her delight and my dismay, but don’t get discouraged we will always try and find something out of the ordinary and maybe other worldly on our trips.
Overall we spent around $60 for the day, now we could have saved money by packing a picnic lunch or doing some research for a cheaper meal. But blame it on those bacon dusted fries…..we couldn’t say no. But for the day the only things that we of any cost were the House of the Seven Gables and lunch. The remainder of our trip was free. I do believe that to park on Winter Island during the summer months may have a fee associated with it. We lucked out that there was no sign of needing to pay on the day we were there.