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NOTE: There is a lot to say about Wellfleet, so we'll take this opportunity to give you the basics and list some of our favorites. We'll give credit where credit is due. Some information included in this page is adapted from the Chamber of Commerce and National Park Service Web sites. Enjoy!

Wellfleet was founded in 1763 after the North Parish Meeting House was built in the Chequesset Neck area of Eastham to serve the growing population in that area. Wellfleet applied in 1734 to become a town but waited until 1763 to be incorporated. The Boston Court had wanted to call the new town Poole, but the people rebelled, preferring instead to be called Wellfleet after the Wallfleet oyster beds of England. Oysters were indeed important to the 'Fleetian way of life.

Wellfleet took up whaling in 1770 when a mysterious plague wiped out the oyster beds. But, during the Revolution, Wellfleet's harbor was blockaded and its whaling industry failed. After the war, commercial fishing became Wellfleet's occupation. 

In the time after the Civil War, half the fish eaten in this country were caught by Cape Codders and Wellfleet fishermen were second only to those from Provincetown in hauling cod and mackerel into their schooners.

In the late 1800s Wellfleet became a summer resort, almost by accident. In 1870, a young skipper named Lorenzo Dow Baker sailed from Jamaica to Wellfleet with load of bananas, which spoiled by the time he arrived. The next year, having learned his lesson, he brought home a cargo of green bananas. They turned to yellow gold.

In 1881, Baker and his brother-in-law, Elisha Hopkins, also of Wellfleet, organized L.D.Baker and Co. In 1885, they offered stock to the public in their Boston Fruit Company. This became the United Fruit Company in 1899.

With his amassed wealth, Baker decided to "improve" the town of Wellfleet, making it a summer destination resort.  In 1885, he bought Mercantile Wharf and built on its pilings the Chequesset Inn and staffed it with Jamaicans.

And so the summer fun began...So what's in Wellfleet now?

Downtown Wellfleet is known for its MANY eclectic shops and galleries.  Don't forget the Left Bank and the Co-Op on Commercial Ave.

The entire eastern half of Wellfleet is now a part of the National Seashore. Trivia/History: Two of the four towers used to send the first wireless message across the Atlantic can still be found on Marconi Beach on the Ocean side.

There are several freshwater ponds -- great for swimming. Spectacle requires 4-wheel drive, but it's worth it.  

There is a drive-in movie theater right on the Wellfleet-Eastham line that, by day, is a huge Flea Market.

The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (W.H.A.T.) occupies a building next to the pier. They have interesting productions all summer.

The pier itself is the home to Wellfleet's fishing industry, but also to several charters available for fishing and sightseeing.

The National Seashore (map) also encompasses part of the west side of Wellfleet to include Great Island, the barrier beach that protects Wellfleet Harbor from Cape Cod Bay (check it out in our view gallery). The National Park Service and the National Audubon Society have programs providing nature tours that meet just across the Herring River from the Lodge.

And finally, the local seafood is fresh and fabulous. You haven't been to Wellfleet until you've had a frozen drink and a dozen oysters on the deck at the Bookstore (508-349-3154).

In the morning, join the locals at Uncle Frank's for coffee and fresh doughnuts (in the WHAT building near the pier).

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