Welcome to tales of Nineteenth-Century Salem. A time in which Salem was the richest city and the most influential in shaping our young country. In our posts you will learn how Salem has shaped American history from the profits she made by the smuggling that happened in her tunnels by the most wealthy and powerful in their day; sometimes for the good, but more often not. So join us every Monday for new tales!

Zachary Taylor


You don’t know me. It is hard to be a famous president when you were assassinated 16 months into your presidency. Even worse when most people believe you ate a combination of strawberries, milk, and ice cream and died. My name is President Zachary Taylor and I was assassinated by typhoid poisoning by Daniel Webster and Henry Clay for my reluctance for making a third national bank. Plus I was not the first they got away with…Another Whig Candidate, President William Harrison only lasted a month before he died of typhoid. We were the only two ever elected from the Whig Party to become presidents.

For more info read Sub Rosa to find out how Salem shaped America and your lives! Available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.

A Dickens’ Tale Set in Salem

Welcome to the Salem Tunnel Report. Every Monday we will post new and old tunnel finds along with those who built them. In our posts you will learn how Salem has shaped American history from the profits of the smuggling that happened in these tunnels; sometimes for the good, but more often not.

A Salem Fagin and the Artful Dodgers…

These are the tunnels under the Downing Block. In this building the first boy’s club in the country was founded. Now they are called Boy’s & Girls Inc. The Salem Fraternity drew from the poorer kids in town to provide leisure, education, and a library. After they moved out of this brick building they moved into the old wooden building which used to house the Salem Lyceum where Alexander Graham Bell made the first long distance phone call demonstration and James Russell Lowell read Dante’s Inferno. Then they moved into the Essex Bank Building which was made out of bricks built by Charles Bulfinch. They were forced to leave the Lyceum after they turned it into an inferno.

It was safer to keep these kids in brick buildings, but no one might of been safe. Every building in town these kids were in was part of the tunnel systems in town. Was there a Fagin running these artful dodgers through the tunnels into homes connected to the tunnels? Who is to know, but it leaves a lot of speculation open for the mind to wander…

For more read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and its sequel Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin published by Salem House Press. Available at Barnes & Noble, Remember Salem, The Witch House, Jolie Tea, and Amazon.com.

Signs of Tunnels in Custom House in Salem

A Lot of what you will see is the original tunnel clues from George Crowninshield’s Sr. home. The door probably led to the basement of the Bonded Warehouse. These pictures are under the building in the front.

They tended to leave the basements intact with the old tunnel connections when they built a new home on the property. When they built the Custom House Lord, McIntyres, Roberts, and Upham were involved. These were the guys who were building all of the homes in Salem that were attached to the tunnels. You can see the sealed entrance below the furnace, the arch supports you would see in tunnels and subways in the ceiling, and the fireplace arches with sealed stairs going down into the tunnels.


To find out more about the tunnels in Salem read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City, now in its 3rd edition. New tunnel finds, more stories, and even more pictures! Read the book everyone digs! Catch up on the book that Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton used to write Wicked Charms, Carol Perry with her Witch City Mysteries, and the Librarians  TV Show! Stories from the book airing in April on the Travel Channel!

Rafe’s Chasm


Now a lot of people come to Salem, MA, but they are really missing the boat if they do not venture any further north. A trip up Boston’s Gold Coast up Rt. 127 is a must see! A road filled with the Robber Baron’s mansions, castles, a windy road along the ocean, and many natural wonders.

On the midpoint on the road before it loops back on its self through Cape Ann is Rafe’s Chasm in Magnolia, a section of Gloucester MA. It is a huge red rock jutting out to sea with a chasm to right that fills up during high tide. It is my favorite place to sit on the ocean and do rock hopping. One section reminds me of some ancient boat ramp. This spot might hold some mysteries beyond is beauty alone.

During Hurricane Katrina the waves reached the top of this rock face that rises 3o feet from the water and beyond another 20 feet to crash halfway to the treeline. During most average storms, the water turns a beautiful green among the foamy wave crests. A definite to see.

Sometimes seals can be seen from here as well. Many times you will find a fisherman or two. On some occasions you will come across an old bonfire, something I need to do one day.

After your trip up Rt. 127, leaving Salem behind, take a stop at Rafe’s Chasm and see why tourists and locals have been coming here since the nineteenth century!

Chris Dowgin

Vintage Salem

Welcome to another Vintage Salem Posts. Every Wednesday we will post another image from our home town’s past. If you have any other images of the buildings or locations we offer each Wednesday, please share them below.

Old Train Tunnel entrance

Old Tunnel Entrance on Island near Washington Sq. and Winter Street

Old Tunnel entrance on the island in between Washington Square North and Winter Street. Closed up to keep the kids out. Now there is a war memorial boulder on top of it.

For more info read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City by Chris Dowgin available at Jolie Tea, Remember Salem, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.

Owner Salem House Press

Robert McGinnis: Illustrator of the Week

Shaken, Not Stirred…


Robert Edward McGinnis (born February 3, 1926)[1] is an American artist and illustrator. McGinnis is known for his illustrations of more than 1,200 paperback book covers,[2] and over 40 movie posters, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s (his first film poster assignment),[3] Barbarella, and several James Bond and Matt Helm films.[4]




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