CLAIM TO FAME: Second-oldest Cape town
HISTORICAL BRAGGING RIGHTS: Rich Native American history, early rebellion from British rule
BEACHES: Bay View, Flax Pond, Gray’s (Bass Hole), Long Pond, Sea Gull
DON’T MISS: Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Bass Hole boardwalk, Gorey House, minigolf courses
Yarmouth straddles the “bicep” of Cape Cod, bordered by Cape Cod Bay to the north, Dennis to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south and Barnstable to the west. The town was organized and incorporated as part of the Plymouth Colony on September 3, 1639, making it the second oldest Cape town behind Sandwich. The town originally included what is now Dennis, which separated in 1793.
The Town of Yarmouth and its early residents have an intriguing history. Before colonization from Europe, the Wampanoag and Algonquin tribes inhabited the area, which they called “Mattacheese” (roughly translated: “plowed fields”). During the American Revolution, Yarmouth was the site of an active group of the Sons of Liberty and mustered a militia force to provide assistance at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, although the group returned home when they heard the rebels had already defeated the British in those battles. The citizens of Yarmouth even went as far as to declare the town’s independence from the Crown on June 20, 1776.
Yarmouth began as a farming community but relied on the sea for economic growth in later years. One Yarmouth resident of note is Captain Asa Eldridge, who captained the clipper Red Jacket on a voyage between New York and Liverpool in 1854. Captain Eldridge made the voyage from dock to dock in only 13 days, 1 hour, and 25 minutes, setting the record that remains unbroken for fastest trans-Atlantic crossing by a commercial vessel.
Mirroring its geographic quality, today Yarmouth serves as a cross-section of the Cape. Yarmouth Port on Cape Cod Bay is an enchanting village with small shops, while the villages of West and South Yarmouth are examples of more commercialized areas.
Yarmouth has 11 public saltwater beaches and 2 freshwater pond beaches. Bass River Beach on Nantucket Sound is located at the mouth of Bass River, the largest tidal river on the eastern seaboard. The beach offers the warm and calm waters of the Sound and restrooms, a snack bar, and a wheelchair-accessible fish pier. Seagull Beach, also on Nantucket Sound in West Yarmouth, offers rolling sand dunes and similar amenities. Gray’s Beach, a smaller spit of sand, is situated on Cape Cod Bay in Yarmouth Port and is perfect for young children because of its warm water and tame tides. It also is very close to the Bass Hole boardwalk, one of the most scenic walks the Mid-Cape has to offer and includes free parking and picnic area with grills.
The Edward Gorey House is devoted to the life and works of Edward Gorey, a writer and artist noted for his illustrated books. Gorey died in 2000, and his home was converted into an intimate museum on the Yarmouth Port Common, displaying original artworks, photographs and first editions of his works.
Built in 1780, The Winslow Crocker House is the only Cape Cod property that is preserved by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. The Cultural Center of Cape Cod offers an outlet for the arts in the Bass River section of Yarmouth. Their large brick building on Old Main Street in South Yarmouth puts on several intriguing exhibits and performances each week throughout the year, including local art shows, musical performances, lectures, readings, and lessons.
Yarmouth’s two elementary schools serve pre-kindergarten through third grade students. Grade four and five students attend the Wixon School in Dennis and come back to Yarmouth’s Mattachese Middle School for grades 6 & 7. Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in Yarmouth serves students in grades 8 through 12 from both towns. The high school’s Red Wilson Field is the home of the Dennis-Yarmouth Red Sox, a member of the Cape Cod Baseball League, considered by many to be the premier amateur baseball league in the nation.
Yarmouth Town Information
96 Old Main Street
South Yarmouth, MA 02644
One Brad Erickson Way
West Yarmouth, MA 02673
Town of Yarmouth
1146 Route 28
South Yarmouth, MA 02664
Area Chamber of Commerce
424 Route 28
West Yarmouth, MA 02673