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You’ll see… Winter Island!

a building next to a body of waterSalem’s Winter Island is a summer campground with both tent and RV campsites. Facilities include a public boat ramp, dinghy rack spaces, a store, a public beach called Waikiki, the Winter Island Lighthouse, and a function space.

The location of Salem’s first tavern and first shipyard, Winter Island was home to a fort as early as 1643 and the site was in more or less continuous use as a fort for the next 250 years. The fort had several different names when Massachusetts was a British colony, but it then was renamed Fort Pickering after Timothy Pickering, a prominent local patriot during the Revolution. Pickering was later Secretary of State and Secretary of War in George Washington’s cabinet.

During the 1930s, the Coast Guard created a Search and Rescue Base here. The base closed in 1968, and the City of Salem reclaimed the land in 1972 for public use.

The frigate USS Essex, which fought against the French, the Barbary Pirates, and finally the British during the War of 1812, was built on Winter Island in 1799.

The public beach is called “Waikiki” after the famous beach in Hawaii. Capt. Mike believes this nickname came from the flight crews that manned the Search and Rescue base, many of whom had served in the Pacific during World War II and would have passed through the big military base at nearby Pearl Harbor.

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