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Cape Cod Town of Chatham MA Overview & Map

Chatham a substantial old town and home to one of the largest fishing fleets on the Cape, was settled in 1656 by a handful of Pilgrims, whose surnames still dominate the town’s census list. At the “elbow” of Cape Cod, bordered by Pleasant Bay and Orleans to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south, and Harwich to the west, Chatham is 17 miles east of Hyannis, 89 miles southeast of Boston, and 223 miles from New York City.

The town was incorporated in 1712. Originally a farming community, its inhabitants found deep sea fishing more lucrative, and today small boat deep sea fishing is still an important source of the town’s revenue.

Champlain touched here when he visited the Cape on the voyage during which he discovered the St. Lawrence River, making a landing at Stage harbor, but not liking Monomoy point, which he called “Cape Mallebarre,” he sailed away, greatly for the better future of the country as had he settled there, implicating a French colony on the Cape, the future of the entire country might have been changed.

Chatham forms the “Elbow” of Cape Cod and it was the presence of the dangerous reefs off Monomoy Point, Pollock Rip shoals, which caused the Mayflower to turn back, thus resulting in the settlement of Plymouth. It is and always has been a marine town from the time it was incorporated in 1712 with many vessels having entered its harbor since then.

Chatham light is one of the best known lighthouses in the country and from it can be seen more similar beacons than at any one point on the Atlantic coast. So great is the erosion of the waves on the land near and upon which stands Chatham light that riprap (rocks, sea wall) has been used to save it.

Chatham has been the scene of more wrecks than almost any other point on the Atlantic coast. It is stated that if the hulls of all the vessels wrecked between Monomoy point and Provincetown were placed end to end they would form a solid bulwark almost the entire coast line between these two points. In fact near the Chatham light is a burial ground devoted to the bodies of unknown dead men that washed ashore.

Chatham boasts a house built in 1750 and still standing. It is the oldest house in town and one of the oldest on the Cape.

In Chatham was established one of the earliest tidewater mills for grinding the corn of the Colonists.

Joe Lincoln, the famous writer of Cape Cod stories, maintained a summer home here.

Squanto, the friendly Indian who accompanied Governor Bradford on his trip to buy corn from the Indians to save the starving Colonists in 1622, died here.

Warm summer days with cool summer nights and relatively mild winters make Chatham a comfortable place in which to live year-round or vacation. Chatham with several pretentious summer hotels and a large summer colony is one of the chief summer places on the Cape entertaining many thousands each summer.

It is one of the prettiest old towns on the Cape and is still a great fishing center with large quantities of fish, oysters, scallops, clams and quahaugs yearly handled here.

Ship building and making salt once flourished in Chatham.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 07/31/06
Categories: ChathamPlaces
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