Early settlers were drawn to Falmouth, MA because of its proximity to the important harbors of Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, and Nantucket Sound. The town quickly became an important center of maritime trade and agriculture. Falmouth, which encompasses Woods Hole and several other villages, is the second-largest municipality on Cape Cod after Barnstable.
During the War of 1812, the HMS Nimrod and other British warships bombarded the southern coast of Falmouth Heights. Though the attack was over quickly, locals were afraid that the Royal Navy would land in Falmouth and launch an attack on land. In preparation, the Massachusetts militia set up camp on the town’s beaches. Luckily, the feared British landing never happened.
Nobska Light lies just east of the village of Woods Hole in Falmouth. In the early nineteenth century, Woods Hole was a hub for the booming local whaling industry. The village, which is located between the historic whaling towns of New Bedford and Nantucket, saw dozens of vessels pass through Vineyard Sound every day on their way to and from these major ports.
In 1829, Woods Hole erected the lighthouse on Nobska Point. That first year, Nobska Light guided more than 10,000 vessels through the waters of Vineyard Sound (to the south) and Woods Hole Passage (to the northwest). From the lighthouse, visitors can also see the town of Falmouth, as well as Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands in the distance. In the late nineteenth century, tourists began visiting Falmouth.
Today, the town’s economy is based primarily on tourism and, every year, thousands of people visit the town’s beaches. Surf Drive Beach is the closest beach to downtown Falmouth, which makes it a popular spot with both locals and summer visitors. The town’s other popular beaches include Menauhant Beach, on Vineyard Sound, and Old Silver Beach, on the western shores of Buzzards Bay.
Woods Hole has become renowned scientific community on the forefront of marine science and research. It’s home to the nation’s oldest public aquarium and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
The Shining Sea Bikeway connects North Falmouth with the scenic village of Woods Hole (and its beaches). On the way, this 10-mile bike path passes through downtown Falmouth and next to the sparkling waters of Vineyard Sound. Avoid Falmouth’s notorious summer traffic by riding a bike, taking a run, or skating down the coast of Falmouth on this picturesque bike path.
Town Hall Address: 59 Town Hall Square Falmouth, MA 02540 Phone: (508) 548-7611
Cost of Stickers: Beach Stickers: $40 resident, $275 non-resident Transfer Station Stickers: $40 plus pay-per-bag Shellfish License: $30 taxpayer, $100 non-taxpayer
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