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Brewster calls itself the Sea Captains' Town, honoring its rich heritage as a seafaring community. Historic Route 6A, the Old King's Highway, winds through its center; it's also known as Main Street. This road, the old stagecoach route, was once nearly the only one at this end of the Cape, and residents and legislators alike are determined to keep it well preserved. Homes and businesses must adhere to historic detail: there are no neon signs, no strip malls—only the gentle facades of a graceful era.
Brewster's location on Cape Cod Bay makes it a perfect place to learn about the region's ecology. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is here, and the area is rich in conservation lands, state parks, forests, freshwater ponds, and brackish marshes. When the tide is low in Cape Cod Bay, you can stroll the beaches and explore tidal pools up to 2 mi from the shore on the Brewster flats. When it's high tide, the water is relatively warm and very calm for swimming. Both Nickerson State Park and the Punkhorn Parklands have thousands of acres through which to wander.
Named for Plymouth leader William Brewster, the area was settled in 1659 but was not incorporated as a separate town until 1803. In the early 1800s, Brewster was the terminus of a packet cargo service from Boston. In 1849 Henry David Thoreau wrote that "this town has more mates and masters of vessels than any other town in the country." Many mansions built for sea captains remain, and quite a few have been turned into handsome B&Bs (though in recent years, more than a few of these have reverted to private homes). In the 18th and 19th centuries, the bay side of Brewster was the site of a major salt-making industry. Of the 450 saltworks operating on the Cape in the 1830s, more than 60 were here.
Brewster at a Glance
- bay beaches
- Brewster Historical Society Museum
- Brewster Ladies' Library
- Brewster Store
- Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
- Drummer Boy Park
- First Parish Church
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