Harwich History

Harwich was settled in the 1650's by families from the Plymouth colony. Farming and fishing were the principle means of supporting the family. By the 1800's several commercial areas had developed, usually but not always near churches. The survivors of these areas are the seven villages of the Town of Harwich: Harwich (Center), North, East, South, and West Harwich, Harwich Port, and Pleasant Lake.

Portuguese from the Cape Verde Islands, attracted by the fishing and maritime industries, began to populate the town by 1890, as did "summer people," purchasing land for cottages. Nowadays, the population of the town is made up of descendents of the original settlers, descendents of the Cape Verdeans, retirees, and of course, "summer people." Many, no doubt, descended from the first summer visitors.

The commercial cranberry industry began in Harwich in the early 1800's, when someone noticed that the native cranberry vines of low boggy areas did better when the winter winds blew sand over the vines. In 1846 the first intentional cranberry bog was planted, and the rest, as they say, is history. Cranberry growing remains an important part of the Harwich economy, and due note of that fact is taken every fall with the week-long Cranberry Harvest Festival.

Harwich Cape Cod Contact Information

279 Orleans Road
North Chatham, MA 02650

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

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