Without a Ranger to get you on the sloop and show you the interior of the Customs House, this is just a nice bit of urban space. A phone call to a number posted on a sign in front of the Customs House got us on the noon tour. One can also register at the Visitor's Center. Some folks did neither and since there was room they joined in with no effort at all. The Ranger put it all into perspective - the "Friendship" carried about 3 semi-trailer loads of stuff and sailed as far as China, always trading up. The Custom House interior is also interesting with the connection with Hawthorne and the "Scarlet Letter" as a part of the story. Much of the income for the USA came from customs duties and similar fees and Salem was a very rich town before bigger ships and a shallow harbor took the trade away. The Ranger made the building come alive as a place of business, although one does have to remember Hawthorne's take on it. Get on the tour and pay attention - it is definitely worth a phone call.
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