Did You Know...

Fun Facts about our Park


  • Winter Island had Salem's first tavern and first shipyard. A fort was erected as early as 1643. The site was in continuous use as a fort from that time until, during the 1930's, the US Coast Guard created a Search and Rescue Base here.
  • The Frigate USS Essex was built and launched in 1799 from this location. It served General George Washington in the U.S. Navy.
  • The fort was renamed Fort Pickering, after Colonel Timothy Pickering, Secretary of State and War in Washington's Cabinet.
  • Thanks to the Forts on Winter Island, Salem was the only Harbor not captured during the War for Independence.
  • In 1799 the largest ship ever built in Salem was launched from the south side of Winter Island. The 800-ton Frigate U.S.S. Essex, paid for by the merchants and people of Salem and Essex County, was given to the U.S. Navy
  • The three bunkers located in historic Fort Pickering once stored ammunition as early as the Civil War.
  • The Coast Guard Station closed in 1968. In 1972, the land was reclained by the City of Salem for public use, and was developed into a public park and urban campground.