While it’s best known for its infamous 17th-century witch trials, Salem’s past is full of scary and spooky happenings. From notorious murders to UFO sightings, here are six things you will want to explore in this historic New England city—if you’re brave enough.
1. Salem Common
In the 17th century, this eight-acre park hosted militia training, spawning what is now the U.S. National Guard, and was home to the popular Salem Cadet Band from 1878 to 1941. The apparitions of soldiers and haunting music from an invisible band are said to have occurred in the park, particularly around the circa-1926 bandstand.
This boutique hotel is located on the site of an old apple orchard once owned by Bridget Bishop, the first of the city’s executed witches. Guests on the sixth floor frequently report seeing a woman in a long dress, thought to be Bishop, who is accompanied by a strong apple scent.
The witch hysteria of 1692 began in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris. When his two young girls fell ill, they accused locals of witchcraft, ultimately leading to the executions of 20 people. Today, all that remains of the parsonage is its foundation, and the surrounding fields where the devil allegedly held his Sabbaths.
Visitors to this island park in Salem Harbor can check out the exterior of an abandoned 1934 coast guard barracks, where security guards have reported ghosts. Nearby is a former air station where, in 1952, a Coast Guard seaman took a famous photograph of four UFOs hovering over the city.
5. Gardner-Pingree House
Salem’s most-notorious murder took place here in 1830. Captain Joseph White was stabbed 13 times, leading to widespread paranoia in Salem. The resulting trial and public executions of two brothers inspired writers Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The captain’s ghostly face is said to appear from the second-floor windows.
The Gardner-Pingree House is located at 128 Essex Street
Sea captains once frequented this area and used underground tunnels to kidnap men to work on their ships. Several businesses— such as Mercy Tavern—sit on top of the old tunnels, and there have been reports of ghostly voices coming from them.
[This story appears in the October 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine.]