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Located directly south of Truro and just to the north of the elbow of the Cape, Wellfleet is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Much like Truro, almost half of the city’s land belongs to the Cape Cod National Seashore, established by President Kennedy in 1961. The city is most famous for its oysters and holds the October Wellfleet OysterFest each year to celebrate that distinction.
Just like the other communities that make up Barnstable County, Wellfleet has a rich history that includes the area’s first visitors in 1606. Samuel de Champlain was one of the first in the area and chose to call Wellfleet Oyster Port for the abundance of oysters that were brought in on a daily basis. Once the area had been settled in the mid-1600’s, whaling and mackerel fishing were also booming businesses. By the mid-1800’s these industries had started to taper off, but even today, oysters and shellfish still are two of the most profitable industries in the area.
On a historical note, the country’s first transatlantic radio transmitter was built in South Wellfleet in1901-1902. In January of 1903, the first transatlantic radiotelegraph message was sent from President Theodore Roosevelt to the King of England. Although most of the area where the transmitter was once located has been lost due to erosion, a small section is still there.
As part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and due to other designations, almost 70% of Wellfleet’s land area is protected in some fashion. The majority of the town’s coast is part of the National Seashore. The areas islands and marshes add to its natural beauty and make it a popular attraction for tourists, artists, and nature lovers. Cahoon Hollow Beach, Great Island Trail, and the White Cedar Swamp are also popular destinations.
Less than 100 miles from Boston, Wellfleet supports many local industries aside from the lucrative oyster and shellfish trade. During tourist season, the area’s population can grow by leaps and bounds, sometimes exceeding up to six times its normal numbers during the offseason. Boat tours, fishing charters and historical tours that take travelers to the many different historical destinations located on the Cape offer an abundance of activities for individuals of every age.
While the wealthiest of the wealthy often head north to Truro, Wellfleet is a community that includes people from every walk of life. From the fishermen who love the sea to the wandering tourists with their sketchpad and paper, Wellfleet is the paradise that many people long for. Small cottages, large condo/apartment buildings, single family homes, and luxury mansions are all nestled together in this small New England community. Residents