Truro History

Where is Truro? Good question. Driving along Route 6, as you pass through Wellfleet you may notice a sign that says Truro. And that's about all you'll see until you come to the top of a rise and see Provincetown in the distance, where the shore curves to the west to form the hook that is Provincetown Harbor. Truro is the only town on Cape Cod that gives no inkling that it exists as you drive down the main road that goes through it.

Truro missed its chance at immortality when the little band of Pilgrims from the Mayflower decided not to stay in the rolling hills and moors that might have reminded some of them of home and to follow Captain Myles Standish to the area across the bay that became Plimouth. Although the Pilgrims didn't stay in Truro after a brief exploration that convinced many that they should, it was a find of seed corn, ten bushels, stored by the Pamet Indians on what is now known as Corn Hill, that helped to sustain them the following year. Settlers did not come back until two decades later, when the land now known as Pamet was part of a large tract granted to Thomas Prence and other proprietors of Nauset. In 1689 the Pamet Proprietors negotiated purchases of land from the Pamet Indians. In 1705 Pamet was established changed its name to Dangerfield. In 1709 Dangerfield separated from Eastham, incorporated as a town and changed its name to Truro.

In the beginning, farming was the basic way of life for the settlers of Truro but shore whaling soon became a big part of it. Deep water whaling was next, and for a while Pamet River Harbor became a center for whaling. By 1840 the harbor was booming. Then, in October,1841 a great gale off Georges Bank virtually wiped out the Truro fishing fleet. seven of eight boats were lost, as well as 57 men and boys - ten percent of its seamen. Truro recovered briefly but again, in 1860, there was another, and this time fatal, blow. The Union Company went bankrupt. This was the commercial backbone of the town, for merchandizing and banking. Most of the citizens owned shares and, when it went belly up, Truro collapsed economically. In twenty years the population of Truro dropped 50 percent. By 1930 there were only 500 residents.

Today, three quarters of Truro is in the National Seashore and Truro remains a quiet town. There are fine beaches, both on bay and by the ocean under spectacular dunes. Highland Light, moved back last summer from its precarious perch on the eroding cliffs (the power of the Atlantic Ocean is awesome), still sweeps its beam over all the hills and valleys of Truro, a revolution every minute reminding all of Truro's seafaring past as its life saving light flashes miles out to sea.

For golfers, the nine hole Highland Light Golf Course is about as close as a golfer can get to the experience of playing on the moors of Scotland.

Truro, with its bustling past and quiet present, is a reminder of "the real Cape Cod."

Truro Cape Cod Contact Information

279 Orleans Road
North Chatham, MA 02650

Phone: (508) 945-6443
Fax: (508) 945-7837

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