Cape Cod

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Cape Cod,

narrow peninsula of glacial origin, 399 sq mi (1,033 sq km), SE Mass., extending 65 mi (105 km) E and N into the Atlantic Ocean. It is generally flat, with sand dunes, low hills, and numerous lakes. Bartholomew Gosnold, an English explorer, visited the Cape in 1602 and named it for the abundant fish found in surrounding waters. Fishing, whaling, shipping, and salt making were important until the late 1800s. Tourism and cranberry growing (Cape Cod is the nation's largest producer) are now economic mainstays. Housing development and population (now about 200,000) have gradually increased, and the Cape is faced with strains on water and road systems as well as with increasing pollution. Towns on Cape Cod include BarnstableBarnstable
, town (1990 pop. 40,949), seat of Barnstable co., SE Mass.; inc. 1639. It is a resort town on Cape Cod. Industries are tourism, fishing, and cranberry farming. Barnstable comprises seven villages, including Hyannis.
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; ProvincetownProvincetown,
resort town (1990 pop. 3,374), Barnstable co., SE Mass., on the tip of Cape Cod, with a harbor on Cape Cod Bay; inc. 1727. The principal industries are tourism and fishing. The Pilgrims landed there in 1620 and stayed about a month.
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, site of the Pilgrims' first landing (1620); FalmouthFalmouth,
town (1990 pop. 27,960), Barnstable co., SE Mass., on Cape Cod; settled c.1660, inc. 1686. Once a whaling and boatbuilding center, the town has become a popular tourist summer resort.
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, location of Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
at Woods Hole, Mass.; est. 1930. In addition to oceanographic research, it conducts important work in meteorology, biology, geology, and geophysics.
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; and BourneBourne,
town (1990 pop. 16,064), Barnstable co., SE Mass., crossed by Cape Cod Canal; settled 1627, inc. 1884. Bourne Bridge (1935), across the canal, made the town an entry point to Cape Cod and a resort and commercial center.
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, through which the Cape Cod Canal passes. This lockless canal, 17.5 mi (28.2 km) long, 32 ft (10 m) deep, was built (1910–14) from private funds and purchased by the U.S. government in 1927; it accommodates oceangoing vessels and cuts the distance between New York City and Boston by 75 mi (121 km). Parts of Cape Cod constitute Cape Cod National Seashore (43,685 acres/17,686 hectares; est. 1961). It contains beaches, sand dunes, heathlands, marshes, freshwater ponds, and historic sites, including the first Marconi wireless station in the United States.


See histories by H. C. Kittredge (2d ed. 1968) and P. Schneider (2000).

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Cape Cod

1. a long sandy peninsula in SE Massachusetts, between Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic
2. a one-storey cottage of timber construction with a simple gable roof and a large central chimney: originated on Cape Cod in the 18th century
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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