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. It was settled around 1665, and incorporated in 1694. Its early economy 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 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. Residents turned to the development of cranberry bogs and resorts for summer visitors, working side-by-side with Portuguese immigrants. The first resort hotel opened in 1880 and both the cranberry and the tourist industries remain substantial parts of Harwich's economy in the present.
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Harwich Beaches Information:
Harwich has 16 beautiful beaches on Nantucket Sound, plus four on freshwater ponds. Stickers are required for parking and are available at Town Hall on Mass. Rt. 39, (508) 432-7638. Residents get stickers for $5 a season. The cost for nonresidents, who must show proof of renting in Harwich, is $25 for a week, $40 for two weeks and $50 a season for temporary residents. The exception is Red River Beach, off Depot Road in South Harwich, where you can park daily for $5 on weekdays, $10 weekends and holidays. The town's larger beaches--Red River, Bank Street, and Pleasant Road--have lifeguards and restrooms; a few of the smaller ones like Earle Road and Cahoon's Landing are equipped with portable toilets. Other small beaches on Nantucket Sound in Harwich are Jenkins Beach, right next to Saquatucket Harbor and Merkle Beach tucked next to Wychmere Harbor.
Harwich also has five freshwater beaches: Bucks Pond, off Mass. Rt. 39; Sand Pond, off Great Western Road; Hinckley's Pond, and Seymour Pond, both off of Mass. Rt. 124; and Long Pond, off Long Pond Drive. Town beach stickers, available at Town Hall, are required to park at Long Pond and at Sand Pond; most of these ponds have no lifeguards or restroom facilities. Sand Pond, the site of the town's recreation program's swimming lessons, does have restrooms.