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You’ll see… the Misery Islands!

Misery Island is the biggest island in Salem Sound, over 80 acres. It’s currently owned by the Trustees of Reservations, but it used to be home to 25 summer cottages as well as a resort featuring piers, clubhouse, saltwater swimming pool, and a nine-hole golf course. The resort (and many of the cottages) burned in 1926.

About ten years later an oil company proposed turning the island into a “tank farm”. The Salem City Council rejected the proposal, but the surrounding neighbors — alarmed by the prospect — raised funds to purchase land on the island and donate it to the Trustees. Still, the Trustees had to fight off an attempt to use the island for a sewage treatment plant in 1988. Not until 1997 did the Trustees acquire 100% of the island.


The “Misery” name came from shipbuilder Robert Moulton, who went out to cut timber on the island one winter in the mid-1600s. A storm blew in and he was stranded on the island for several days, and evidently had a *miserable* time.

Over the years there have been several commercial boats that brought visitors out to Misery Island during the summer months, but this is made difficult by the lack of a dock. Currently there is some access on weekends via the Essex Heritage Commission’s vessel Naumkeg.

The shipwreck that lies between Great and Little Misery is the steamer CITY OF ROCKLAND. After a checkered 23-year career, she was towed to the Miseries where she was deliberately set on fire. Her keel can be seen at low tide.

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