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Cape Cod Town of Eastham MA Overview & Map

Located in the lower Cape area, the town is bounded on two sides by land and on the other sides by water, the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. Once heavily forested, the stands of oak and pine were long ago harvested for fuel and shipbuilding. Today, the terrain of the town is now mostly saltmarsh and sand. Some original landscapes are still visible in the section of town inside the National Park (Cape Cod National Seashore) areas while intensive modern residential growth has taken place in other areas of town.

Eastham is a small town but possesses some of the most fertile soil on the Cape. It was known by the Indian name Nauset, but an act of the legislature the name was changed to Eastham in 1851. The soil is particularly well adapted for growing root crops and once, large quantities of turnips and asparagus were raised here. Eastham holds a Turnip Festival each year to celebrate it’s “turnip capital” of the Cape status.

Dissatisfied with Plymouth, in 1644 the directors of the Colony sent a seven man delegation to scout Eastham (then known as Nauset) for a new site for the center of government. The decision was not to move, but the seven members of the delegation brought their families and established a new town.

Eastham has several harbors and these and the abundant shellfish are probably what brought these early settlers from the Plymouth Colony. The settlers’ economy was based on agriculture, fishing and salt making, but Eastham’s summer resort history began as early as 1830 when the Methodist Church established a summer camp meeting ground in town.

The coming of railroad connections in 1870 stimulated local market gardening and Eastham specialized in cranberries and asparagus for the city markets. Eastham had cod and mackerel fisheries and oysters to ship north.

The town’s harbors were not as good as those of other communities in the area, so agriculture remained more important to the town in the 19th century than did maritime trades.

The Swift and Company meatpackers began in Eastham before moving to Chicago.

Eastham is known as the place where the first Indian blood was shed due to an encounter that Champlain had with the Indians during which several of them were killed.

This town is also known as the birthplace of the originator of the United Shoe Machinery corporaton.

Eastham is bordered by Wellfleet to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Orleans to the south, and Cape Cod Bay to the west. Eastham is about 25 miles east of Hyannis, 92 miles southeast of Boston and and 273 miles from New York City.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 08/08/06
Categories: EasthamPlaces
Keywords: eastham


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