Unholy Mass, Vol. 001: USS Salem
Location 549 South Street Quincy, MA 02169
The USS Salem— with a name like that, it has to be haunted, right?
That’s what its caretakers would like you to believe, at least. The former battleship now houses an annual haunted house, currently home to Boston’s only “haunted ship attraction.” Though the popular Halloween site closed in 2019 for undisclosed reasons, they typically offer the standard walk-through-tight-quarters-while-theater-kids-in-costumes-jump-out-at-you fare.
However, they also invite guests to try the “VIP Paranormal Experience”, in which you would be whisked away from the attractions to take part in a “real ghost hunt” within the ship’s crammed quarters. Surely this couldn’t just be a ploy in order to suck thousands of dollars from people who were just looking for something a little more real?
Truth Be Told
Look, nobody wants the USS Salem to be haunted more than me. I would haunt it myself if I didn’t suffer from a debilitating aversion to odorous sulfur. But the fact of the matter is, this is mostly manufactured. I don’t doubt that somewhere along the way, someone heard one too many bumps in the night, and figured things were askew aboard the ship.
What jettisoned the ship’s ghostly national notoriety was an appearance in a 2009 episode of SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters.” Though your trust in a paranormal reality show may not exactly be rock solid, the fact that this gang of ghostbusters decided that the ship was explicitly not haunted, should tell you all you need to know. Still, that hasn’t stopped the Salem’s staff from claiming the contrary— their appearance was enough traction. In the ten years since then, the ship’s head archivist and the Greater Boston Paranormal Associates have done the best they can to reverse that narrative, trying to draw in more true believers.
But at the end of the day, there’s no real story behind it. The USS Salem is haunted just because people say it’s haunted, without any real rhyme or reason. A handful of men died on board after being rescued from an explosion on another ship, but that’s all you can really find that contributes to the legend of horror.
Travel & Eats
Where as other haunted locales in Massachusetts may call for a police presence, or dangerous surroundings, the Salem’s status as a legitimate museum makes it quite easy to gain access to. You shouldn’t run into any problems trying to get aboard, though the “paranormal” experiences aren’t available year round.
Though countless amenities surround this stretch of Quincy, there just isn’t much to do in the immediate vicinity. But while you’re there, the Lobster Stop next door should serve all your sea-faring hunger needs.
You could also cross the Fore River Bridge into Weymouth, where the Amazing Intimate Essentials still stands after a 2014 arson attempt nearly took it out for good. The lingering scent of toasted dildoes is more bone-chilling than the ship you’re making the trip to see.
If your intention is to see a beautiful ship and learn a bit of history in their great museum, then check it out. If you’re expecting to run into the ghost of a bisected passenger on the ship’s deck, you’ll be disappointed.
Spooky? Sure. Haunted? Not quite.