Chatham, Massachusetts

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Chatham, Massachusetts is a town on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It is a year-round commercial fishing port, as well as a recreation center. Located in the "middle cape", it is at the "elbow" of the Cape Cod peninsula, on the south coast, just before the peninsula makes its sharp turn to the north. Its total area is 24.33 square miles, of which 16.43 square miles are land. The 2000 Census of Population listed 6,579 permanent residents.


On a year-round basis, the town is a fishing port with a town pier and a unloading facility that is leased to a contractor; over 4 million pounds of fish and shellfish were landed in 2007. Major fisheries include scallop (shellfish), quahog and razor clams, mussels, lobster, cod, haddock, scup and squid.

In the summer months, the population grows significantly with visitors.

Challenges faced include a wide income distribution among year-round workers and summer visitors, the effects of the ocean and the preservation of wetlands and fisheries, and aspects of both rural and recreational culture.

Education and information

The town operates a K-12 school system. Its Eldridge Memorial Library is part of the Cape and Islands Libraries Automated Materials Sharing (CLAMS) network, with an online catalog and frequent interlibrary loan, as well as the statewide Virtual Catalog. There are vocational-technical schools nearby, and Cape Cod Community College is about 20 miles west.

Broadband internet is widely available through the cable television carrier as well as optical fiber from the local telephone provider.


It was settled in 1656 by Pilgrims; a number of the founding family surnames still are common locally. Chatham was incorporated in 1712.

It played an early role in radio. One of the first Marconi stations was here, and, in the Second World War, a U.S. Navy intercept station for communications intelligence. Also in the Second World War, Naval aviators trained for anti-submarine warfare; there is still a Training Field Road, and the commuter airport is in the former military location.