Access at seashore locations
The stairs at Nauset Light Beach in Eastham are closed due to storm damage. Herring Cove North Lot in Provincetown sustained damage resulting in closure of multiple parking spaces. The Nauset Marsh Trail bridge was destroyed in a 2012 storm. More »
The Wellfleet Tavern Site - Great Island - Wellfleet
National Park Service photo
Historic period archaeological sites, mainly small farmsteads widely spaced and linearly arranged along small, east-west running valleys, exist throughout the outer Cape. The initial European settlement of the outer Cape occurred about 1644 when colonists from Plymouth relocated in Eastham. Historical research tells us that fishing, whaling, trading, and farming all were important for these new inhabitants of the outer Cape. One unique site that can be visited is the Wellfleet Tavern site (also known as Samuel Smith Tavern Site and Great Island Tavern site) on Great Island, part of the headland that now forms an outer boundary of Wellfleet Harbor. The site was excavated in 1969 and 1970 by archeologists Erik Ekholm and James Deetz. Analysis of the artifacts collected by Ekholm and Deetz indicate activity at the site between 1690 and 1740. The artifact types found at the site relate to its designation as a tavern, including high percentages of drinking vessels, pipe stems, and other kinds of glassware.
The park's Great Island Trail passes by the Wellfleet Tavern site. Interpretive displays describing and illustrating ancient and historic inhabitants and ways of life on Cape Cod can be found at the National Park Service Salt Pond Visitor Center, at the corner of Route 6 and Nauset Road, Eastham.
Francis P. McManamon, National Park Service
Did You Know?
There are twenty permanently flooded freshwater kettle ponds within the Cape Cod National Seashore. They range in size from 2.5 to 100 acres and from 6 to 65 feet in depth.