New Tunnel Finds

Tunnels in Salem MA photos

TUNNELS IN SALEM AND BEYOND

  Through the years since Salem Secret Underground has been written I have kept looking for new homes that are connected. Sometimes when I find them they come with funny stories. There was a home on Northey Street that housed a woman who was a horrible cook. Next door was an excellent cook. They would meet in the tunnel in between the houses and the one woman would deliver home cooked meals for her neighbor. These were passed off as her own.

  Around the corner on Woodbury Court I met a family that had a tunnel running ¾ of the length of their home that was used to smuggle to and from the North River. The only thing blocking the entrance was a tall hill of sand.  There was this great kid who would light up every time he would see me. I was that guy who told him he had a pirate tunnel in his basement. I kept hoping he would take his sand shovel and dig the entrance open…

  Other times I would just schedule an appointment to see a house that was on the market. Several real estate agents would hand me their info and I would go and investigate the basements of these homes. Sometimes the agent forgot to bring the keys to the basement.  When they did not I would get images of these sealed up ways. I found more houses on Oliver, Andrew, Federal, and Chestnut Streets. Sometimes I just confirmed homes I speculated about in the first book. With each confirmation I got to make updates to the book. Salem Secret Underground was a living book, it changed from week to week, or month to month for seven years.

  In one of those houses I confirmed on Pickman Street had turned one of the tunnels into a bomb shelter. All of the stored water from the 40’s or 50’s were still in large wine bottles. Where the addition was added in the back there was a well in the basement where they used to drop gold fish into. This property was on the edge where Collins Cove used to be on the corner of Milk and Pickman streets, so the tunnel in the back of the house was flooded.

   I have been under the chapel in Greenlawn Cemetery. We filmed those tunnels for a documentary. Another documentary on the tunnels airs on YouTube and Winthrop Cable. A tunnel led 20 feet from the basement heading southeast under the old greenhouse. A greenhouse, I wonder if it was the one Elias Hasket Derby Jr. sold in 1811 that was part of the Derby Mansion on Derby Square. The tunnel is blocked off at a staircase. This tunnel at one time was lit by electricity, much like the one coming out of the old Naumkeag Trust building on Essex Street. Heading Northwest from the basement is a long corridor leading to a chamber that used to house corpses in the winter. Now its stalls houses weed whackers. There is another tunnel leading south. Next to it is a toilet that had a ton of bricks dropped on it. I hope no one was using it at the time.  One tunnel leads to Orne’s Point.

  Other Tunnels in the Nation

There are many tunnels in Georgetown, another Peabody hunting ground. On the  3300 Block of O Street Col. Alf Heidberg found an arched tunnel when digging out the basement for a bomb shelter.  He lived there in the 50’s. His wife’s second husband was General Douglas MacArthur.  Also the Halcyon House in Georgetown has what they call a slave tunnel which is haunted. Plus, Healy Hall Georgetown University.

  Then the Water Street Custom House and under Federal Hill in Baltimore. This was the town Peabody moved to before he left for London.

  Then the most interesting is Joseph Bonaparte’s mansion in Bordentown, NJ off of the Delaware. He moved to NJ in 1815 buying 1,800 acres in town. He was once king of Spain and Naples when his brother loomed over Europe. In 1816 he built his mansion Point Breeze that burned to the ground in 1820, but not before creating a paradise. An avid gardener Bonaparte installed a park on the grounds which was the forerunner to Central Park that he kept open to the public. The park was improved with trees, twelve miles of bridle paths and carriage drives, and an arched brick causeway across a man-made lake was constructed, all at a cost believed to be over $300,000 (over four and a half million in today’s dollars).

  Many powerful people would visit his home. One was Stephen Girard. Stephen Girard who purchased most of the stocks of The First Bank of the United States when it lost its charter opened his own bank known as Girard’s Bank in the same building. He underwrote 95% of the loans to pay for the War of 1812. He then became a major stockholder and director of The Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia along with Joseph Story. Girard bought Joseph Bonaparte  a 16 oar barge to row his guests up the river.

  Henry Clay Sr. had just took the last room in the City Hotel in NYC when Bonaparte arrived in America. Clay just returned from the signing the Treaty of Ghent to end the War of 1812. Upon hearing Joseph was in the hotel he offered him his dinner and suite. This was the beginning of their friendship.  Could of Clay brought Daniel Webster and John Quincy Adams to Point Breeze. All have known to visit, but at the same time? If they did indeed visit together, I wonder if they compared the quality of his tunnels to the ones in Salem?

  Then the Hoosac Tunnel outside of Fitchburg, MA in 1819. Originally proposed as a canal to connect Boston to Upstate New York via the Deerfield River on the east of the Hoosac Range and the Hoosic River on the west. That project was shelved, and later reborn as part of the new Troy and Greenfield Railroad. The project was nicknamed “The Great Bore” by future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who said he’d like to “wall up a dozen lawyers at one end of the tunnel and put a good fee at the other.” One of which is the lawyer Elias Hasket Derby III. He was the lawyer for the Fitchburg Railroad. His father might have engineered long tunnels, Junior was set to make huge tunnels.  The Hoosac was built after Derby received a loan for $650,000 to build it. His other railroad from Boston to New Bedford was the Old Colony. The Old Colony rail will soon be restored as a commuter rail by my friend Adam who is working on the engineering plans for the State.

  I looked up this reference after an acquaintance in the basement of an old underground smuggling train station now called Opus Underground in Salem. He had mentioned walking in long tunnels in Fitchburg and ending up under a grocery store.  Also Fitchburg State University has a tunnel leading from Palmer House through the new Hammond Campus Center second level to the Thompson Hall’s basement. Thompson Hall was the original building built in 1896 that the college was housed in at its beginning. It is much like the Loring Mansion (St. Chretienne Academy) now part of Salem State University South Campus with the tunnel leaving the basement through the side of the hill to the old girls high school.

Here are some of their pictures:

To find out more and other fabulous stories about how Salem, MA shaped American History read Sub Rosa by Christopher Jon Luke Dowgin published by Salem House Press.

Limited Collector’s Preview Edition

Sub Rosa The Sequel to Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City

 

Don’t miss your opportunity to get these rare copies. Be the first to find a typo, a smudge, or a section of type that might not make it to the final copy of the book. Strange as it sounds, people love the books in which they can find a flaw.

Do know any copies bought on Amazon.com within the next two weeks will be the Advance Readers Editions which would have these limited errors. Then after the next two weeks, everyone gets the same book. The next million copies will be the same. Yes I did say Advance Reader’s Editions!  In the next two weeks, I might upload three or four revisions. So you might get lucky and purchase the one and only printing of that revision…

It is the luck of the draw and you only have two weeks from the date this post was…posted. Read the latest posts in our blog to get a taste of the stories in the book. So Good Luck and enjoy the book!

Click Here to Get Your Copy Now!

Cover to the book Sub Rosa which is about Tunnels in Salem and those who built them.

Greenlawn Cemetery Tunnels, and Lords of Salem

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Greenlawn Chapel and Greenhouse Salem Ma

A beautiful memorial chapel and conservatory, erected in 1894, by Walter Scott Dickson in memory of his wife, is located here. Dickson Chapel is a High Victorian Gothic work of architecture, made with light-brown granite with trim of olive stone. The conservatory was taken down in the 1970’s after it suffered damage. In 1887 the cemetery was enclosed with an iron fence and gates, 1,087 feet long. Major improvements were initiated in 1933 and 1934 with W.P.A. workers planting many botanical specimens. F. Carroll Sargent, noted arborist, brought many varieties of trees and shrubs from all over North America, China, Japan, Europe, Manchuria, Siberia and Korea to plant at the cemetery. Notable speciments are the following trees: Amur Cork, Dawn Redwood, Osage Orange, Yellowwood, and Katsura Trees. In 1934 the Workers Progress Administration (WPA) workers planted hundreds of trees. Over the years that followed, seeds of shrubs and trees were received from the Arnold Arboretum and started and nurtured in the cemetery greenhouses for eventual planting on the grounds. Longtime Cemetery Commissioner F. Carroll Sargent was instrumental in continuing the tradition of planting and propagating trees and shrubs for the cemetery. There are two bodies of water, Sargent Pond and Fountain Pond.

MA Salem Greenlawn Cemetery Pond and Bridge Color

Pond

Dickson Memorial Chapel is a hidden treasure nestled in North Salem’s Greenlawn Cemetery. The highly significant and impressive Gothic Revival, stone Dickson Memorial Chapel (1894), was designed by Newton architect George Meacham. What is truly hidden are the tunnels under it.

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

GreenLawn Cemetery Chapel Tunnels Salem MA

The tunnel blocked off by the stairs you enter upon would lead to Orne’s Point where a widow would sell bricks to build the tunnels in town. Another headed toward Manning’s house, a Salem Common Improvement Fund members house. The other led to that creepy crypt, now storing weed whackers. Plus there is an old crapper under a pile of bricks, I bet that was one hell of a shit.

Toilet covered in brick in the Dickson Chapekl Salem MA

Now Rob Zombie filmed Lords of Salem in this cemetery, but he did not see any of these tunnels. Not even the crypt…

Lords of Salem 14

Get the book everyone digs before its sequel comes out!
Salem Secret Underground:The History of the Tunnels in the City!
Available at Barnes & Noble, Remember Salem, and Wicked Good Books in Salem on Essex Street. Also on Amazon.com!

Then for a great time take the Salem Smugglers’ Tour to find out all of the secrets one can dig up in town!

Orne’s Point, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Uncle, and the Tunnels Under the Greenlawn Cemetery Chapel

The Greenlawn Cemetery in the North Fields of Salem, MA was once owned buy Nathaniel Hawthorne’s uncle Manning. Manning was one of 158 subscribers who paid for the beautification of the local common which was a disguise for an elaborate plan to connect most of the town to a network of deceit. A series of smuggling tunnels ran under the city and some of them went through Manning’s old tree nursery which is now the cemetery.

This picturesque cemetery has recently been a location in the Rob Zombie’s film Lords of Salem. The film crew received access to the chapel and graveyard, but they did not gain access to the tunnels below and the crypts…

Then this tunnel is blocked off by a modern set of stairs (cellar stairs not being historically accurate to a building of this age usually were converted tunnel entrances.) that once led to the Cabot Farm. The Cabot Farm was first owned by 3 generations of men named Timothy Orne. The last of the three gentlemen dies young and leaves behind a widow who remains penniless until she starts selling bricks in 1804. The brickyard was run by her son-in-law Thomas Cushing who builds a house on Orne’s Point. He would also own the building in which becomes the Bowman’s Bakery on Essex Street.  Cushing would die in 1806 leaving the operation to Elihu Eggleston who had been making the bricks for them for several years. The widow Cushing had to only collect the money.

 

 

One of the widow Cushing’s first orders was to Pickering Dodge. He had purchased 300,000 bricks. Now lets look at the numbers. Here is an estimate from one site on the web:

If it is assumed that the entire exterior of a 2,400-square-foot house is brick, then it would take about 5,226 bricks in a single layer to cover 2,400 square feet of space.

Mr. Dodge’s order was roughly 60 times what would be needed for one home. Dodge’s home at 29 Chestnut Street might be a large home, but not that large. He was the nephew of Timothy Pickering who was one of Washington’s generals and Secretary of State. Timothy Pickering was the infamous writer of the Alien & Sedition Acts.  Mrs. Cushing was said to have had several large orders like Mr. Dodge’s in the years to come.

Where were all of those bricks going? Could someone have propositioned the desperate widow who was selling off property after her husband died to furnish bricks for the clandestine tunnels in town? The Orne’s were a merchant family with property on the river. A convenient location for smugglers. You can see the tunnels split like a Y in a field on Orne’s Point. Also Orne Street is badly humped from the erosion around the tunnels below it. Here are the pictures of the tunnels running under the old hot house next to the chapel.

The North Fields were also said to be a hotbed of abolitionist spirit. Many homes could of been connected in this area to help runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.  Here are a few more pictures.

Green_HouseFor more information make sure you read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City by Christopher Jon Luke Dowgin. Also look out for its sequel Sub Rosa coming out this summer! How the men who built the tunnels in the city conspired to have two presidents killed, crash the nations economy, reinterpret the Constitution, and started the drug war in the nineteenth century.