About Harwich, MA
2010 Population: 12,243
The Town of Harwich is
a resort and residential community located on the south side of the Cape peninsula, with an extensive shoreline on Nantucket Sound.
Harwich was settled around 1665, and incorporated in 1694. The early economy of Harwich included agriculture and maritime industries and its history has
included boom and bust cycles from the earliest days of the community. When the whaling industry collapsed with the discovery of oil, the Harwich community's emphasis
shifted to cod fishing. By 1802, 15 to 20 ships were shore fishing and another four ships were cod fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, and by 1851, there
were 48 ships employing 577 men and bringing in thousands of tons of cod and mackerel. The eventual decline of the fishing industry in Harwich by the latter part
of the 19th century was caused by increases in the size of ships which eventually outstripped the shallow port's ability to house them. Harwich residents turned to the development of
cranberry bogs and resorts for summer visitors, working side-by-side with Portuguese immigrants. The first Harwich resort hotel opened in 1880 and both the cranberry and the tourist industries
remain substantial parts of Harwich's economy.
Travel the road to the upper campgrounds in Nickerson State Park and you may think for a moment that you have been magically transported to the Berkshire Hills or the piney woods of the Carolinas. Nowhere in sight are the sand dunes and salt marshes usually associated with Cape Cod. Instead, you are surrounded by woods that slope down to the banks of eight crystal clear fresh water ponds. Yet, if you walk or bicycle through the woods, you will find no rivers or streams feeding the ponds. These are “kettle ponds,” among more than 300 formed as glaciers retreated from the Cape over 10,000 years ago. Completely dependent on groundwater and precipitation, the water level in the ponds fluctuates from season to season and year to year.
Rte. 6A, Brewster, MA &
map / details