About Eastham, MA
2010 Population: 4,956
The Town of Eastham is a coastal resort community straddling the arm of Cape Cod.
Located on the lower Cape, Eastham 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 long ago harvested for fuel and shipbuilding and the terrain of Eastham 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. Eastham 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. Eastham'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. Eastham 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 Eastham
inside the National Park areas while intensive modern residential growth has taken place in other areas of town.