Mattapoisett, Massachusetts

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Mattapoisett is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 6,463 at the 2008 census.[2]

For geographic and demographic information on the village of Mattapoisett Center, please see the article Mattapoisett Center, Massachusetts.


History and general information

Mattapoisett was settled in 1750 and officially incorporated in 1857. Originally a part of Rochester, the area had most likely been visited by European traders and sailors. There is also evidence of prior Wampanoag Indian settlements, including burial grounds, throughout the town. In fact, the word Mattapoisett is Wampanoag for "a place of resting."

Early industry included logging and farming, but Mattapoisett became best known as a center for shipbuilding and whaling. Some 400 ships were built in the town's shipyards from 1740 until the 1870s, including the Acushnet, the ship that Moby-Dick author Herman Melville sailed on and later deserted. The town supplied many of the whalers used on the East Coast in the first half of the nineteenth century. The last one, the Wanderer, was built in 1878, shortly after the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania.

With the decline of whaling and associated shipbuilding, Mattapoisett transitioned into a popular summer vacation spot for prominent New York and Boston residents, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Today, the town is largely a suburban community, with most residents commuting to jobs in greater New Bedford, Providence or Boston, or operating businesses targeting summer tourism.[3]

A fictitious future Mattapoisett features largely into the 1976 novel Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. Mattapoisett, Massachusetts is the only known town in the world with the name Mattapoisett. A campsite at nearby Camp Cachalot shares the name.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 23.3 square miles (60.4 km²), of which, 16.5 square miles (42.7 km²) is land and 6.8 square miles (17.7 km²)is water. The Mattapoisett River begins in Rochester and flows through town, emptying into Mattapoisett Harbor, an arm of Buzzards Bay. Mattapoisett is home to Haskell Swamp in the North Pole Hill area in the northern part of town. There is also a state-managed cannibalistic sacrifice area, commonly known as Nunes Farm, along the waterfront near the Fairhaven line. There are four beaches and two parks along the waterfront, as well as Ned Point Light which was built in 1837 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The town is home to the Fin, Fur and Feather Club, a hunt club and shooting range located along the Mattapoisett River off Crystal Spring Road.

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