William Wood's Description of Salem (Naumkeag), circa 1629-1630.
Four miles northeast from Saugus lieth Salem, which stands on the
middle of a neck of land very pleasantly, having a south river on the one side
and a north river on the other side. Upon this neck where the most of the houses
stand is very bad and sandy ground, yet for seven years together it hath brought
forth exceeding good corn by being fished but every third year; in some places
is very good ground, and good timber, and diverse springs hard by the seaside.
Here likewise is store of fish, as basses, eels, lobsters, clams, etc. Although
their land be none of the best, yet beyond these rivers is a very good soil,
where they have taken farms and get their hay and plant their corn. There they
cross these rivers with small canoes which are made of whole pine trees, being
about two foot and a half over, and twenty foot long. In these likewise they
go afowling, sometimes two leagues to sea. There be more canoes in this town
than in all the whole patent, every household having a water horse or two. This
town wants an alewife river, which is a great inconvenience. It hath two good
harbors, the one being called Winter, and the other Summer Harbors, which lieth
within Derby's Fort, which place if it were well fortified might keep ships
from landing of forces in any of those two places.
[Source: William Wood, New England's Prospect. Edited by Alden T. Vaughan.
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1977. p. 64.] (courtesy of University
of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA)