The Boy with the Shovel House

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.

I Wished he Dug a Little Harder…

8 Northey Street Court

I was welcomed to this house by a lovely family who had read in an early edition of this book I was looking for homes attached to the tunnels. They gave me the tour of the basement and it was the closest to being opened that I have ever seen. All that was standing in the way was a pile of beach sand. The tunnel ran three-quarters of the house toward Northey Street Court. You could see into the tunnel above the sand pile. All I could think about was I hoped the kid who lived here had a beach shovel…

The little one was so proud he had a tunnel in his basement and he thought I was great. Every time he would see me he would run up with his mother and say hi with the biggest smile. He was an awesome kid. Each time though­—I hoped he would tell me he dug the tunnel entrance open!

No luck though. Also, the town of Salem did suffer a great loss, this family I believed moved back to England where the father was from. They did talk about smuggling to the North River when their yard was on its shores. The house was where the tunnel started from the sea.

This area was where the Old Planter family of the Woodbury’s where from. There were smuggling against the crown’s duties as well. This areas tunnels are older than Derby’s; even though they had brick topped tunnels that become the norm after 1801, but they are not going through the fireplace arch yet. The house next door was built by Israel Woodbury. My Banquet Hall project called Vingolf will be built on 30 acres in Manchester-by-the-Sea where Dr. Israel Woodbury’s and his kin’s woodlot is down to Stephen White’s woodlot he inherited from his brother Henry. Life is strange how things go full circle.

Another story about Northey Street. There was a woman who was a horrible cook. Her neighbor was fantastic; they would meet in the basement and the neighbor would smuggle her meals for her family. The family never caught on.

This was also the road in which the Second Witchcraft Hysteria of 1811 had happened. Well, that is a different story for another time…

Many secrets in Salem!

For more read info 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

Cool Castles I Flew Over while Hanging from My Balloons

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! This time we will look at some of my favorite space pilots. After you read the list, won’t you add some of your favorites!

Castle Rock: Marblehead

Hammond Castle: Magnolia

Stillington Hall: Gloucester

Only if the wind would have changed I could have sailed inland toward Methuen and not have gone out to sea. In Methuen Edward Searle built a castle. Plus he built two more in Wyndham, New Hampshire.

Pine Lodge: Methuen

Searles Castle: Windham NH

I hope you enjoy these castle as much as I did flying over them on my balloons.

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book! Now available in paperback at your favorite booksellers. Ask for it by name! If they do not have it in stock, ask them to order it for you.

Also come back every Friday at 8:30 pm, before I am sent to bed, to read my posts each week!

Cool Trips to Bucks County PA

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler, once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

Welcome back to my blog about all of the cool places in America I have lived. My parents the software engineers, they live contract by contract so I never know where I am going to live from month to month. One month it is the deserts of Arizona and the next it is the freezing cold of Montana?

Today I am going to tell you about this cool county in PA. Buck’s County is where Washington had Marblehead MA fishermen row him across the Delaware. They have this cool town called New Hope where Salvidor Dali used to sign blank scrolls asking you to forge paintings on them. Also in Bucks County there are two castles filled with cool tile and the strangest and largest stuff I ever have seen hanging from a ceiling. Then there is the cool steam engine we would ride on every weekend! We kept trying to get a frequent flyer pass, but we failed desperately….

In the winter we would go cross country skiing at the Washington Crossing Park in NJ. Also people in the area would reenact Washington crossing the Delaware every Christmas Eve. That was real cool to watch. Then on the PA side we would climb Bowman Hill. This was a cool tower built on the site in which scouts for Washington was posted on. You could see the whole valley and the Delaware River for miles. At the bottom of the hill the tower stood on what was this real cool garden.

Then on summer weekends we would go to New Hope. I loved going into this one shop where they sold real swords from the 1500’s.  During Christmas they had carolers and people dressed up like characters from Dicken novels walk around. In their shops you could find anything in this old Victorian town which got a face lift from the arts and craft movement! I also loved going to the Night Owl which rested above the canal and I would get some real cool Led Zeppelin albums there. They had Native American shops, shops for Star Wars geeks like myself and my father, and head shops with cool posters. Plus we would sit in this tavern called John & Peter’s and I would see posters of people I just bought albums of who played there. The last time we went there was a poster that members of the Parliament Band was playing that night, way after my bed time….

Then nearby was Mercer Castle. The Mercer Museum was built to house Henry Mercer’s extensive collection of objects representing everyday life in the pre-industrial age. The Museum’s permanent exhibits remain dedicated to this purpose, displaying more than 40,000 tools and artifacts in the Museum’s original core. Over 60 early American trades are represented, including woodworking, metalworking, agriculture, and advertising; plus furnishings and folk art. Never are two visits the same to this unique “preserved” museum that includes a fire engine suspended from the balcony, a complete gallows, and much more. I loved this place, but I kept waiting for something to fall on someone….It never did. Plus we would go to Mercer’s house too. Fonthill Castle is Henry Mercer’s concrete castle house with 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces and over 200 windows of varying size and shape. The interior walls, floors and ceilings are elaborately adorned with Mercer’s handcrafted tiles. Tiles and prints from around the world also show the collecting interests of this Bucks County native. The majority of Mercer’s furnishings and personal effects remain where he placed them, and guided tours explore the various aspects of his remarkably creative life. A tour of Fonthill truly offers a window into Henry Mercer’s unique architectural and artistic vision. My mother loved all of the tile.

But my all time favorite was the steam train ride from New Hope to  Lahaska on the New Hope and Ivy Land Railroad. Once I got to ride up in the caboose! My father used to tell me when he was little he would ride the train in Flemington NJ and then get this fresh baked chocolate chip cookie before going into this cool model train store which had trains running on the walls and in the front window. I love riding old trains. I have been on that one in Flemington and another in Durango CO.

Well we stayed there almost a year before we moved again…. Check back later and I will tell you about some more cool places in America, because I have lived in them all!!!


To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy his latest book:
Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida which is available on Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might just surprise you by becoming the best vacation you ever had!

Raymond Ameijide: Illustrator of the Week

Don’t Run with Scissors…

Ameijide served as an illustrator a variety of clients, including Fortune, National Geographic, IBM, Pfizer, TV Guide, Chase Manhattan, Discover, Harcourt Brace and the United States Post Office.[1] He won numerous awards for his illustrations from various organizations and clubs, such as the Art Directors Club. His work is honored by the book The Illustrator In America 1880–1980 A Century of Illustration by Walt and Roger Reed.[2]

Ameijide employed 3-D layering of cutouts of various colored papers to create his caricatures, having originated and developed paper and felt sculptures, which were then photographed, as illustrations in the mid-1950s.



Extended Gallery:


How an Illustration is Made

Images from the Salem Trilogy of Books

Below you will see the steps from sketches to comps.

Graphite drawings are done on separate pieces of paper, scanned, and then painted. They are scanned again and composed like Colorforms on Photoshop until the final illustration is created. Take a look!

That is how the illustration for Ratatoskr and Charlie Bumpus in front of the Essex Institute from A walk Through Salem was made.

Read about Ratatoskr who lives in front of the Essex Institute in A Walk Through Salem the fairy tale set in the whimsical magical side of Salem in which you are the main character. Available at Remember Salem, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Or you can buy it directly and give more of the profit to the author. Look for new AR version coming out this Summer.

~ Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.