Falmouth (pronounced `fal-muth), Massachusetts is located in the South-Western corner of Cape Cod -- known as the "Upper-Cape."  It it bordered to the South by the waters of Vineyard Sound, and to the West and North by Buzzards Bay.  The famous oceanographic community of Woods Hole is contiguous with Falmouth to the West.

Falmouth covers over 54 square miles and has a year-round population of 33,451 (2002 est.) , that swells with summer visitors to over 100,000. Falmouth is the second largest and second most populous town on the Cape, only outdone by the Town of Barnstable. Falmouth is situated in the southwest corner of Cape Cod. It is the second most populous town on the Cape and has one of the longest coastlines in the state. The town of Falmouth is comprised of eight villages. It includes 818 acres of freshwater ponds and about 2,209 acres of saltwater bays and harbors. 70 miles of seashore edge the town.

The town itself is picturesque, with small shops lining a narrow mainstreet opening up into a village green and town park bordered by the library, elementary school and a small pond.  Outside town, you'll find a series of smaller "villages," such as Woods Hole, Quissett and Teaticket.  Each village has it's own special character and dedicated citizenry.  Driving around Falmouth, you'll see well kept gardens and grounds reflecting a local passion for landscaping.  The houses range from simple saltbox shingle-style homes to stately victorian mansions.  The overall impression is of a place that has been well tended, for a long time. 

Selected Demographics

Average Temperatures (°F, compiled by Falmouth-Otis Weather Station)

Month-- High-- Low
January-- 37-- 23
February-- 38-- 24
March-- 44-- 30
April-- 53-- 38
May-- 64-- 47
June-- 73-- 57
July-- 75-- 60
August-- 77-- 62
September-- 70-- 55
October-- 61-- 46
November-- 52-- 37
December-- 42-- 27


Before the arrival of Europeans, the Falmouth area was the home of the Wampanoag Indians (People of the East), who called the town “Suckanesset,” which means “where the black wampum is found.” Black wampum is a dark purple material found on the inside of the quahog (pronounced 'ko hawg) that the indians used to make beads and jewelry for trading.  

Falmouth Heights, a prominent bluff rising from Vineyard Sound to the east of Falmouth was originally known as "Great Hill." This picturesque location was used as a summer camp as far back as the early 1600's by Queen Awashonks, ruler of the Narragansett Indians. Over the years, many Indian artifacts and burial grounds attest to the long Indian habitation of the area. 

In 1602, Falmouth was visited by the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold during his exploration of the local waters in the ship Concord2.  He changed the local Indian name of Suckanessett to Falmouth, after his home port of Falmouth, England. Gosnold was also responsible for naming Cape Cod (after the abundant stock of cod fish in the area), Martha's Vineyard (after his young daughter) and the Elizabethan Islands (after Queen Elizabeth).

Falmouth's first permanent settlement was established  in 1660 by a group sympathetic to the Quakers. The town became incorporated in 1686. In it's early years, Falmouth was a small agricultural community that took pride in it's self sufficiency and relative isolation from the politics of Boston.  As the American Revolution gained momentum, Falmouth suffered from the effects of the British blockade and the British raids on local farms. In 1779, the Falmouth Militia repelled an attack by a fleet of 10 English ships that had been tasked with burning the town.  The "Battle of Falmouth," is reenacted periodically on the same dunes along Shore Drive where it originally occurred. During the War of 1812 the British attacked Falmouth and destroyed the local fleet of coastal trading ships. 

Falmouth Harbor and the nearby Woods Hole served as the home port for many maritime industries.  The schooners of Falmouth plied the coastal trade laden with lumber, salt and produce.  In the 1830's the golden age of Falmouth whaling began and Falmouth played an important roll as the home of several whaling captains, a shipbuilding center for the whaling ships, and a host for a variety of whale-related industries.  Virtually every part of the whale was used for something.  Whale oil], rendered from the blubber was a critical component of the Industrial Revolution. Ambergris, from Sperm Whales, which sold for $300 U.S. back in the 1800's, was used to make fine perfumes.  The whale bones were used for corsets, pie crimpers, crochet hooks, and yarn winders. Whale teeth were prized for use in the elaborate and beautiful scrimshaw often produced by sailors during their multi-year voyages.

Over the years, many other industries came and went in Falmouth.  A thriving saltworks once produced 35,000 bushels per year during the Revolutionary War years.  The fine white sands of Falmouth beaches once supported a glass factory and the Pacific Guano Company produced fertilizer from bird droppings out on Penzance Point, now the site of multi-million dollar mansions.  


1 History adapted from: http://www.falmouth-capecod.com
2  Gabriel Archer Gosnold crewmember, 1602: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/jamestown-browse?id=J1005

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