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Wellfleet, Massachusetts

Wellfleet is a town located in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Located halfway between the "tip" and "elbow" of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the town of Wellfleet occupies 20.4 square miles, and has a year-round population of approximately 2,750 [2000 US Census] (which swells nearly sixfold during the summer). Nearly half of the land area of Wellfleet is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Wellfleet is famous for its eponymous oysters and cranberries.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography
3 Demographics


Wellfleet was incorporated in 1763, but was discovered by Europeans as early as 1606, when Samuel de Champlain explored and named it "Port Aux Huitres" (Oyster Port) for the bountiful oyster population resident to the area. Wellfleet originally developed as part of neighboring Eastham, achieving town status after nearly 30 years of petitioning.

Despite Wellfleet's obvious oyster riches, it was mainly a whaling town in the years before the American Revolution. This was primarily the result of an unknown pathogen's wiping out much of Wellfleet's oyster beds. During the Revolution, Wellfleet's harbor was blockaded, forcing the residents to take up commercial fishing.

With the construction of the Chequesset Inn in the late 1800s, Wellfleet developed the tourist industry it enjoys today. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the Cape Cod National Seashore, which encompasses much of the eastern Cape's beaches, including those on the Atlantic side of Wellfleet. These beaches are available to the public, with parking at the Marconi Site. Wellfleet also has several town-owned beaches. Downtown Wellfleet is located on the inner side, near Wellfleet Harbor. It remains an active fishing and oystering center today.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 91.6 km² (35.4 mi²). 51.4 km² (19.8 mi²) of it is land and 40.2 km² (15.5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 43.89% water.


As of the census of 2000, there are 2,749 people, 1,301 households, and 724 families residing in the town. The population density is 53.5/km² (138.6/mi²). There are 3,998 housing units at an average density of 77.8/km² (201.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 96.58% White, 0.95% African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.58% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 0.69% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 1,301 households out of which 20.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.8% are married couples living together, 8.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% are non-families. 34.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.11 and the average family size is 2.75.

In the town the population is spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 32.2% from 45 to 64, and 21.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 47 years. For every 100 females there are 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town is $43,558, and the median income for a family is $50,990. Males have a median income of $38,100 versus $35,964 for females. The per capita income for the town is $25,712. 7.5% of the population and 5.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 9.7% are under the age of 18 and 6.0% are 65 or older.