Eastham Information

The Town of Eastham is a coastal resort community straddling the arm of Cape Cod. Located on the lower Cape, the town is bounded on only two sides by land, the other two being water, the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. Pre-colonial stands of oak and pine were longago harvested for fuel and shipbuilding and the terrain of the town is now heavily saltmarsh and sand. Dissatisfied with Plymouth, in 1644 the directors of the Colony sent a seven-man delegation to scout Eastham for a new site for the center of government. The decision was not to move, but the seven members of the delegation brought their families and established a new town. The town has several harbors and these and the abundant shellfish are probably what brought these early settlers from the Plymouth Colony. The settlers’ economy was based on agriculture, fishing and salt making, but Eastham’s summer resort history began as early as 1830 when the Methodist Church established a summer camp meeting ground in town. The coming of railroad connections in 1870 stimulated local market gardening and Eastham specialized in cranberries and asparagus for the city markets. Eastham had cod and mackerel fisheries and oysters to ship north. The town’s harbors were not as good as those of other communities in the area, so agriculture remained more important to the town in the 19th century than did maritime trades. Grain production was abundant enough to allow Eastham to export her grain, while industry was never a real factor in the town. Residents note, however, that Swift and Company meatpackers began in Eastham before moving to Chicago. Some original landscapes are still visible in the section of town inside the National Park areas while intensive modern residential growth has taken place in other areas of town.

Town Location

Southeastern Massachusetts, on the forearm of Cape Cod. Bordered by Wellfleet on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Orleans on the south, and Cape Cod Bay on the west. Eastham is about 25 miles east of Hyannis; 92 miles southeast of Boston; 96 miles east of Providence, Rhode Island; and 273 miles from New York City. Town offices are located at 2500 State Highway, Route 6A, Eastham, MA 02642. The main number is 508-240-5900.

Name Address Telephone Town/Village Description
Eastham Windmill On the green, Eastham Center 508-255-0788 Eastham Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Built in Plymouth about 1680 and moved to Truro in 1770s and then to Eastham in 1793, first to where the National Seashore Salt Pond Visitor Center is now located, and then to its present site in 1808. Restored and maintained, it is both the oldest and last working gristmill on the Cape. Easy access from Route 6 offers all travelers a snapshot of the Cape’s past circa 1700-1800. The Windmill is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Each year, a major Windmill celebration takes place the weekend after Labor Day. Called "Windmill Weekend", the 3 day celebration features music, food and crafts booths, a cookout, a pancake breakfast, a road race & a parade, and much more.
Swift-Daley House Route 6, 508-240-3005 Eastham Hours: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays beginning June 28. The 1741 house, built by Joshua Knowles, is fully furnished from Colonial to Victorian eras with antique furniture, clothing and period artifacts. Site includes tool museum and the Gill Beach Shack salvaged from the spit off Coast Guard Beach. Donations accepted.
Salt Pond Visitor Center Cape Cod National Seashore Route 6 and Nauset Road 508-255-3421 Eastham Hours: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. Exhibits, films, bookstore, museum. Expansive views of Nauset Marsh and the Atlantic; walking and biking trails nearby. Ranger-guided programs include archaeology, history and nature walks, marsh explorations, beach campfires, canoe trips, tours and open houses at historic buildings. Many free and family-oriented programs.
Eastham 1869 Schoolhouse Museum 25 Schoolhouse Rd (opposite Salt Pond) Visitor Center off route 6 508-255-0788 Eastham July and August: Wed-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Windmill Weekend Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. An 1869 one-room school for grades 1-8. New addition features Eastham artifacts, photographs and memorabilia, including whale jawbone, Civil War relics, more. “Outermost House at the Schoolhouse” exhibit runs through early September. Lecture by Don Wilding of Henry Beston Society on “Henry Beston’s Cape Cod,” 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, July through Sept. 3. www.henrybeston.org. Donations accepted.