Salem Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

by Robyn Hatch


This building is still part of the 23 South Broadway plant today.


Clemens O. Seifert in original plant.


Salem Coca-Cola plant as it looks today.


Salem Coca-Cola plant as it looks today.

The Salem Coca-Cola Bottling Company got its start in a building that still stands on 23 South Broadway.  It is now abandoned and up for sale.

The brothers Clemens O. Seifert and Charles A. Seifert brought their Coca-Cola bottling plant to town in 1921.  Charles had almost 26 years experience with the product of Coca Cola by then, getting his start at a bottling company in New Bern, North Carolina, back in 1903.  By 1919, he had formed a company to purchase the bottling franchise in Haverhill, moving it to Salem two years later.  It didn’t take the Seifert family long to become active participants in the Salem community.  Clemens ran the Salem plant in the beginning years and was also big in coaching baseball at Woodbury High.  Selling Coca-Cola in Salem was a huge challenge at first.  People loved the old Moxie and root beer, but were very slow to develop a taste for the secret formula from Atlanta.

Coca-Cola had its roots in a wine-based beverage called Vin Mariani – so popular by 1885 that everyone from the Pope to the President was drinking it.  Atlanta pharmacist John Sythe Pemberton mixed up a pirated version of this drink, replacing the wine with sugar and caffeine.  He called this new syrup Coca-Cola and sold it as stimulating elixir to be taken straight or mixed with water.  Its name was derived from two of the original ingredients – the coca leaf (cocaine) and the kola nut (caffeine).  This drink was very stimulating and was soon known for this affect.  Pemberton sold his secret formula and in 1982, Asa G. Candler and two partners founded the Coca-Cola Company.  When Candler had the idea to mix his syrup with carbonated water, a phenomenon was born.

As stated, the Salem Coca-Cola Bottling Company got its start in the beautiful brick building on South Broadway.  Fred Herbst, a brother-in-law of the Seiferts, succeeded Clemens as manager, living in the house that once stood just north of the plant.  That house was home to a number of relatives and employees over the years.  Back in the early 1950s, when one of its apartments was empty, the company even drew names out of a hat to see which worker would win the right to move in.  Ernest Shaw was the plant superintendent until his death in 1964.  Fred Johnston, in the 1940s, later managed the company’s Manchester plant.  Charles A’s son, Charles W. Seifert came to Salem in 1933 and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Bill Hamblett, in 1970.  The business was sold in 1982 to a company funded by Japanese interests.

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What If Rail Returns to Salem?

by Scott E. Green

This article is a look at the impact that the return of rail service might have on Salem.  The facts and speculations is based on conversations with the staffs of the New Hampshire Rail Revitalization Assn., the New Hampshire Office of the Conservation Law Foundation, their Websites, as well as the Website of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.  No state official or Salem Chamber of Commerce official made communication with the Salem Community Patriot before this article was written.  The Salem Community Development Director told this newspaper, through his assistant, that he would not comment on the issue because it was a state issue.

During the planning for the widening of I-93 between Manchester and Lawrence, MA, the Conservation Law Foundation sued for several reasons, which included the matter of using mass transit systems to relieve traffic congestion.  One proposal that appeared was the creation of a light rail commuter line along the middle of the interstate that would end at Lawrence.  Passengers would then bus over to the Lawrence MBTA station for service to Boston.  The current system of park-lock sites would have served as stations for the proposed line.  Being light rail, no freight would be carried.

The New Hampshire and Massachusetts Departments of Transportation are now in the process of planning various strategies to relieve traffic congestion on I-93, including rail service.  The planning process is still in the earliest stages.  However, if rail service were to be included, it would be roughly like this.

The Manchester - Lawrence line would be revived for both passenger and freight service.  The line would be extended beyond Lawrence and connect with the rail line that the AMTRAK Downeaster currently uses.  In New Hampshire, the rights-of-way for this line are either owned by the state, the town of Derry, or the town of Salem.

Let us assume this proposal or some form of it is adopted and overcomes litigation.  No matter what, major projects always attract litigation.  What would be the impact on Salem?

  1. The malls are abutters of the line.  Surely they could develop special packages to attract shoppers using the rail service
  2. Rockingham would certainly try to revive the racetrack special trains for bettors that it had in its salad days.
  3. Manufacturers would be attracted to the area because of the availability of rail service.  If they were already here, it would be an encouragement to expand operations.
  4. Railroad stations built to accommodate the rail service would function as economic engines in their own right.
  5. Destination points such as Canobie and American Stonehenge can develop rail/shuttle packages to attract train using tourists and pleasure seekers. 
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Salem Traditional Christmas Concert


Barron Haigh Select Chorus practicing.


More Woman's Club Members clowning around


Bob Elliot, producer


Emily Moldoff


Barron Haigh Chorus


St. Joseph Church Ensemble


First Baptist


Faith Bible Chapel


Interfaith Choir

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