The Damned Story: Gardner Lake in Salem is known for many things — its natural beauty . . . its excellent fishing . . . an entire house sitting on its murky bottom . . . and of course, its mysterious piano music that seemingly rises from the depths.
Okay, one thing at a time. How did a fully intact home get to the bottom of a lake, you ask? Apparently, back in 1895, a family living on one side of the lake wanted to move their home to the other. Applying a little Yankee ingenuity, they decided to wait until the lake froze over so they could jack the house up, put it on sleds and move it the shortest distance — in a straight line across the ice. The only problem was that they weren’t able to get the house all the way across the lake in one day, so they left it in the middle with the intention to come back the next day to finish the job. Unfortunately, Mother Nature finished the move in her own way, weakening the ice overnight just enough to sink a portion of the house. Before it went all the way to the bottom, however, the family was able to get out many possessions except for the biggest items — a stove, couches and . . . an upright piano.
Apparently, the house didn’t sink right away — it actually floated on the lake surface for a few years before giving in to the inevitable. But sink it eventually did, finding a new resting place 30 feet deep on the lake bottom instead of the lake shore. To this day, people who have scuba dived in the lake report that parts of the house and furniture still remain intact, including the aforementioned piano.
Okay, that’s sort of an unusual thing, right? How many lakes have entire houses in them? The really weird part comes later as, over the years, many of the people who have fished the lake have claimed to heard odd, faint piano music. No one is really sure where it comes from, although most seem to agree the mysterious melodies come from below. And if it is coming from below, then who is tickling the ivories?
We’ve heard of swimming with the fishes — but no one said anything about musical accompaniment!
Our Damned Experience: We have yet to visit Gardner Lake, but it sounds like a nice place to sink down some roots . . . or a house.
If You Go: Gardner Lake is open to the public year round, and can be accessed through a state boat ramp located just off of Route 354 near Route 82. It’s bordered by Hopmead State Park on its eastern shore and has a small park of its own on its southwestern shore.
View Gardner Lake in a larger map