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Wellfleet was incorporated in 1763, but was discovered 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. Wellfleet originally developed as part of neighboring Eastham, achieving town status after nearly 30 years of petitioning.
Despite Wellfleet's oyster riches, it was mainly a whaling town in the years before the American Revolution. This was primarily the result of unknown pathogens wiping out much of Wellfleet's oyster beds.
Wellfleet developed the tourist industry it enjoys today with the construction of the Chequesset Inn in the late 1800s,which has since been destroyed by fire. Marconi built the first radio transatlantic transmission site in Wellfleet. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the Cape Cod National Seashore, which encompasses much of the eastern Cape's beaches. In Wellfleet its holdings include most of the Atlantic side of Wellfleet, and as it approaches Truro it spreads across the town to include a large stretch of the bayside, i.e. Great Island, Duck Harbor, and the Herring river. The National Seashore's beaches are available to the public, with parking at the near the Marconi Site. Today not much is left of the Marconi site as the shoreline has retreated along the Atlantic side, it shares a parking lot with the Red Cedar Swamp. The Marconi National Seashore complex exists on a former army base named Camp Wellfleet. This complex also contains the service's headquarters and many of their quarters. Wellfleet also has several town-owned beaches on both the ocean and baysides of the town. Downtown Wellfleet is located on the inner side, near Wellfleet Harbor. It remains an active fishing and oystering center today.
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Additional Photos by Tom O'Donnell (gunbud) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 5926 W: 8 N: 8034] (34066)
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