Wellfleet, Massachusetts

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Wellfleet is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. Located halfway between the "tip" and "elbow" of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the town had a population of 2,749 at the 2000 census, which swells nearly sixfold during the summer.[citation needed] Nearly half of the land area of Wellfleet is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and a total of 70% of the town's land area is in some form of protection. Wellfleet is famous for its eponymous oysters, which are celebrated in the annual October Wellfleet OysterFest.

Contents

History

Wellfleet was encountered by Europeans as early as 1606, when the French explorer Samuel de Champlain explored and named it "Port Aux Huitres" (Oyster Port) for the bountiful oyster population resident to the area. Originally settled in the 1650s by the Europeans as Billingsgate (after the famous fish market in East London), Wellfleet was part of neighboring Eastham until 1763, achieving town status after nearly 30 years of petitioning. The name "Wellfleet" is disputed; some argue that it comes from "Whale Fleet," after the burgeoning whaling industry in the town, while some say it comes from a brand of oyster popular in England at the time, in order to help sales.

Wellfleet's oyster beds drove the early economy, as did whaling and other fishing endeavors. The town was home to 30 whaling ships by the American Revolution. However, because of the decline of whaling and the mackerel catch in the late 19th century, the fleet declined, being completely free of schooners by 1900. The oyster fleet continues to this day, however, harvesting many other types of shellfish as well.

Guglielmo Marconi built America's first transatlantic radio transmitter station on a coastal bluff in South Wellfleet in 1901-02. The first radio telegraph transmission from America to England was sent from this station on January 18, 1903, a ceremonial telegram from President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII. Most of the transmitter site is gone, however, as three quarters of the land it originally encompassed has been eroded into the sea. The South Wellfleet station's first call sign was "CC", for Cape Cod.[1][2]

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