Fun facts about the town of Yarmouth…

  • Yarmouth occupies about 28.2 square miles making it comparable in size to Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
  • According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Yarmouth is 23,793 residents, making the town the third largest on the Cape, behind Barnstable and Falmouth.
  • The town was named after Great Yarmouth, a community located by the mouth of the River Yare on the east coast of England.
  • Prior to English colonization, the Wampanoag people inhabited Yarmouth and called it ‘Mattacheese,’ or ‘Mattakeese.’ The Indian derivation of this name has been translated in a variety of ways as “planted fields”, “fields on the harbor”, or “by the water.” Either way, legend has it that the Indians—led by the great Indian chief Iyanough—entertained the Pilgrims in these fields during the colonists’ first year.
  • A famous early settler of Yarmouth was Stephen Hopkins, an English adventurer who came to North America on the Mayflower. Hopkins had previously sailed to Bermuda, where he survived a shipwreck, a mutiny, and near death—the story of the ship’s travails inspired Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, and Hopkins is said to be the bard’s inspiration for the play’s drunken villain, Stephano.
  • In 1776, some women of Yarmouth melted down their pewter glassware, candles, and buttons to use the material to make bullets; soon after, a group of 80 Yarmouth men marched to a Revolutionary War battle in Dorchester Heights, armed with the uniquely made ammunition.
  • In January of 1854, ship captain Asa Eldridge of Yarmouth sailed the clipper, Red Jacket, from New York to Liverpool in a record 13 days and one hour.
  • Known as ‘Captains’ Mile,’ a one-mile stretch along Route 6A in Yarmouthport today was at one time home to more than 50 sea captains. Each of the homes has a black and gold schooner plaque on the door, and touring maps are available at the Captain Bangs Hallet House Museum, the Yarmouthport library, and some local businesses.
  • Opened in 1981, Captain Parker’s Pub is acclaimed throughout the region for its clam chowder. The restaurant overlooks Parker’s River in West Yarmouth.
  • Located on Main Street in South Yarmouth, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf features two, 18-hole miniature golf courses, Blackbeard’s Course and—fitting for Yarmouth—a Captain’s Course. In addition to Yarmouth, Pirate’s Cove has more than 20 locations.
  • Yarmouth’s Parnassus Book Service, Inc., is a treasure chest of a store located in an early-1800s building on Route 6A that once housed a general store. For more than 50 years, book lovers have perused the shop’s new and old books and specialty catalogs, which are piled, stacked, and even shelved outside.
  • In 1979, American writer and artist, Edward Gorey—known for his darkly humorous pen and ink drawings—purchased a 200-year-old home on Strawberry Lane, which is now The Edward Gorey House Museum and open to visitors from April through December. As a child, Gorey’s favorite book was Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
  • Edward Gorey’s macabre world became widely known in 1980 when Boston’s PBS station, WGBH, chose some of the illustrator’s wonderfully weird ghouls as inspiration for the background of both the opening credits and the stage sets for the station’s famous series, MYSTERY!
  • Gorey’s legacy as the author of weird stories about creepy creatures such as The Ghashlycrumb Tinies has made the Yarmouth eccentric famous far from his quiet Cape Cod home. Since 1999, a Gorey-inspired event called The Edwardian Ball has been held annually in San Francisco, described as a mix of ‘Edwardian period dress, steam punk chic, and Edward Gorey-inspired madness.’
  • Throughout the summer, art lovers can find a wide array of artwork by both emerging and established artists in outdoor shows staged by the Yarmouth Artists’ Guild. In 2014, shows are held on Saturdays at the Town Hall in South Yarmouth on Route 28; on Sundays, the shows are held on Route 6A in Yarmouthport.
  • In October of 2013, the Yarmouth Seaside Festival celebrated its 35th anniversary; the event featured sand sculpting, races, fireworks, a fairly large craft fair, and a pie-eating contest.
  • New in 2013, the seaside festival featured a Bed Race; requirements for the one-quarter mile competition included a bed, four pushers, and one rider who must wear pajamas and remain lying down throughout.
  • The Yarmouth Meeting House on North Main Street in South Yarmouth continues the community’s long Quaker legacy in a plain, unadorned structure that was built in 1809. Surrounded by a quiet graveyard, the house still hosts meetings for Quakers from Cape Cod and the Boston area.
  • Now a national retail chain, the Christmas Tree Shops started in Yarmouthport in 1970. The original shop had three small stores—the Front shop, the Back shop, and the Barn shop—all located on historic Route 6A.
  • The 23-acre Taylor-Bray Farm in Yarmouthport, which includes an antique Cape farmhouse, a barn, a caretaker’s cottage, and farm animals, was saved from development in 1987 when the town purchased the farm for historic preservation and conservation purposes.
  • For 45 years, West Yarmouth’s ZooQuarium on Route 28 was a favorite with families who would flock to pet the animals and then watch as sea creatures frolicked in three pools, including a 100,000-gallon monster with seating for more than 300. In December of 2013, the ZooQuarium was closed and put up for sale. The animals were distributed to zoos and animal centers throughout the Cape and New England.
  • Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has its international headquarters in Yarmouthport; IFAW works to protect elephants, whales, tigers, cats, and dogs and has projects underway in more than 40 countries.
  • The Hallet name is one of Yarmouth’s oldest, with today’s descendants tracing their roots back to ancient times. One of Cape Cod’s most enduring legends is that of Maria Hallet and her lover, ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy, the notorious pirate whose ship is said to have wrecked—with nearly all aboard drowning—off the Cape coast when he was returning to his love. No one has been able to ascertain whether ‘Maria’ was one of the 10 children born to Andrew Hallet in Yarmouth in the late 1600s.
  • On Route 6A in Yarmouthport, Hallet’s Store has a venerable tradition serving ice cream and sodas at a soda fountain described as “America’s oldest old-fashioned soda fountain.” The shop was first opened in 1889 by Thatcher Taylor Hallet, who is described by a descendent as Yarmouth’s former ‘collector of customs, postmaster, justice of peace, provider of the poor . . .and a mason.’
  • The Optimist Cafe—just a cone’s throw away from Hallet’s on Route 6A—is a favorite for breakfast and lunch served in a whimsical, gingerbread-trimmed Victorian.
  • Originally founded in 1900 with nine holes, the Bass River Golf Course was redesigned and expanded by noted golf course architect Donald Ross in 1914; today, the course features 80 challenging holes with narrow fairways, small greens, and stunning views of Bass River.
  • The Bass River Rod & Gun Club in Yarmouthport offers courses in firearms instruction and safety as well as weekly archery lessons; in the archery classes, students can learn about terms such as ‘dry fire’, when a bow is released without an arrow attached, and ‘arrow smith’, one who makes arrows.
  • Opened in 2007 in the structure that formerly housed the Bass River Savings Bank, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod hosts concerts, art exhibits, and classes such as art journaling and oil and watercolor painting all year-round.
  • Yarmouthport’s Bass Hole Boardwalk—featured on the cover of this issue—offers beautiful views over marshes and wetlands from Gray’s Beach to Cape Cod Bay. Besides the boardwalk and the beach, there are tidal pools, picnic facilities, and a pavilion for clambakes. Other scenic Cape and Islands boardwalks can be found in Sandwich, Wellfleet, Eastham, Provincetown, and Martha’s Vineyard.
  • West Yarmouth’s Great Marsh Kayak Tours lead you through some of the Cape’s most scenic waterways with Great Marsh’s Bob Wilds as your guide. The tours offer kayakers an up-close look at Cape Cod’s stunning sea and marsh attractions.
  • Red Wilson Field in Yarmouth hosted the 2013 Cape Cod Baseball League All Star Game, won by the East All Stars; MVPs of the game were J.D. Davis of the Chatham A’s and Kevin Cron of the Falmouth Commodores.
  • At the Red Wilson Field concession stand, fans have some sweet options when it comes to hamburgers; they can order burgers served on a Boston Cream donut, or within two halves of a jelly donut.
  • The Massachusetts Coastal Railroad—a.k.a. the trash train—hauls the region’s waste through some of Cape Cod’s prettiest marshes, woodlands, and dune lands, from Yarmouth and Falmouth to SEMASS in Rochester.
  • Originally opened in 1696, the Old Yarmouth Inn on Route 6A is believed to be the oldest operating restaurant on Cape Cod.
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Main Street, South Yarmouth, Mass

Main Street, South Yarmouth, Mass