Category Archives: Derby Wharf

Derby Wharf (Salem, MA)

Dates Of Visits: October 1 & 22, 2017

Location: 174 Derby St, Salem, MA

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: there is some metered street parking available (good luck this time of the year) and two main parking garages on Congress St. and Church St.  Parking this time of the year is $20 for the day, regardless of how long you stay there if you park in most of the garages and lots in Salem during the month of October.  After Halloween it is much more affordable.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: historical wharf, pretty views, great place for dogs and  children to play


  • great place to catch sunrises and sunsets if you can plan it
  • don’t forget to look along the side of the trail to the lighthouse for signs with historical info about the wharf
  • don’t forget to visit the cute shops and dining establishments at nearby Pickering Wharf


Once the site of an active trade port and a thriving market area that included warehouses with goods from around the world, Derby Wharf is just as busy and thriving but not because of its imports and trade.

Built during the 1760’s by Richard Derby, Derby Wharf, the wharf attracts tens of  thousands of visitors each year (if not more), each year to learn about its rich history, get some exercise and, mostly, enjoy the views from the wharf.

The first thing you’ll notice at Derby Wharf, after the marker signalling the Salem Maritime National Historic site, is the  Pedrick Store House.  The Pedrick Store House is a three-story building, constructed around 1770, is a historic rigging and sail loft, which was relocated to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site from Marblehead, MA in 2007.  They don’t allow visitors inside.  At least they didn’t during my visits to the area.



The ship The Frienship is usually docked next to Pedrick House.  But, now, for some reason, it was anchored a little farther away from the wharf.


Perhaps the highlight (no pun intended) of the wharf is Derby Wharf Light.



Built in 1871, Derby Wharf Light was meant to “mark the main channel leading into this anchorage, with the view to its becoming a harbor of refuge which may be safely entered at any time,”  The lighthouse is about twelve feet square and about 20 feet high to the top of the cupola.

Derby Light originally used an oil lamp shining through a Fresnel lens (a lens with a large aperture and short focal length).  The lighthouse is now solar powered and the light flashes red every six seconds.

During my second visit to the lighthouse this month (I always make a trip there whenever I visit Salem), some of the workers were painting the door of the lighthouse and they were kind enough to let me shoot a photo of the inside from the outside of the lighthouse (visitors are not allowed inside).


Recent archaeological research has shed some light on how the wharf was built.  in 1992, the archaeological dig revealed that Derby Wharf was built by laying timbers on the mud flats at low tide, and then filling between the timber walls with dirt and stones. Later in the 19th century, the wharf was encased with large granite blocks.

The main goods which were imported to Salem, often arriving at Derby Wharf, are indigo, textiles (mainly silk), spices (particularly cinnamon), ceramics and decorative arts and artificial flowers.

The pier at Derby Wharf includes a roughly half mile walk to the lighthouse along a flat, wide dirt trail.



Along the path to the lighthouse, there are signs and displays with various fun facts about the history of the wharf and Salem.



Because of its storied past, all of the people who died at sea or on the wharf and the role it played in the slave trade, the Wharf is said to be haunted.

However, Derby Wharf mainly serves as a peaceful place to go for walks, run or ride your bike.  It is also a nice place to sit and look out at the views.



Derby Wharf is a great place to take the dog and let him and her play.  We have been fortunate to have some really nice weather fecently.  So, there have been dogs everywhere these past few weekends in Salem!



Tiro is a 5 year old mixed breed dog.  I had a lot of fun photographing him.  He was very playful!



Cody is a 9 year old Tri-Color Collie.  Look at those colors!

I also saw several dogs while I was walking to and from the wharf.



Bradley is a 4 and a half year old mixed breed. I was so very impressed with how Bradley and all of the other dogs posed for me.  There are a lot of distractions in Salem, especially this time of the year.  Yet, they all posed wonderfully.



Luna (on the left) is a 6 year old Sato from Puerto Rico.  I am very glad Sato is here and not caught up in the aftermath of the hurricane.  Grimm (on the right) is a 2 year old American Bulldog.