The Port of Sandwich is located in the State of Massachusetts on the western shores of Cape Cod Bay. Just 1.4 kilometers (0.9 miles) inside the Cape Cod Canal, the Port of Sandwich is almost 50 nautical miles (79 kilometers or 49 miles by air) southeast of Boston. The Port of Sandwich was first settled by Europeans in 1637. Today, it is home to over 20.6 thousand people.
Located in Massachusetts' Barnstable County, the Port of Sandwich's town motto is "post tot naufracia portus" (meaning "after so many shipwrecks, a haven" in Latin), reflecting its long maritime tradition. The Port of Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod and one of the United States' oldest European settlements. For about a century, the Port of Sandwich was home to a major glass manufacturing company, the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, that employed master glassblowers from New England, England, and Ireland.
The indigenous Wampanoag Nation occupied the land that would become the Port of Sandwich before Europeans arrived. In the early 1600s, these Algonquian-speaking people welcomed and helped the Plymouth Pilgrims. The Wampanoag brought turkey and corn to the Pilgrims, creating the basis for the American Thanksgiving holiday.
In 1616, a yellow fever epidemic all but eliminated the 69 tribes of the Wampanoag Nation when as many as two-thirds of the people died. Waves of new settlers displaced the indigenous people, and the British sold many into slavery. They were not allowed to use their tribal names or speak their native language.
In 1637, the Plymouth Colony approved settlement of the future Port of Sandwich by a group from Saugus, home to the nation's first iron works that operated from 1646 to 1668. Named after the seaport in Kent, England, the Port of Sandwich was the first European settlement on the shores of Cape Cod. The earliest industries in the Port of Sandwich focused on trading, fishing, and agriculture.
In 1884, a group of Quakers who had tried to settle in the Port of Sandwich separated into the town of Bourne when they were not received warmly by the dominant founding Puritans.
In 1825, Deming Jarves established the Boston & Sandwich Glass Factory in the Port of Sandwich because of the likelihood of a canal being dug there and the ample supply of timber for the glass furnaces. Creating lead-based glass known for its many colors, Jarves held many patents for his improved pressing techniques and glass-molding designs. The Port of Sandwich glass factory thrived until after the American Civil War when less expensive glass was produced by companies in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
Today, the Port of Sandwich still celebrates those early days. The Sandwich Glass Museum exhibits many of the products produced in the Port of Sandwich glass plant. There are also many historic structures that illustrate the lives and work of early settlers.
Tourists in the Port of Sandwich enjoy the Dan'l Webster Inn, the oldest grist mill on Cape Cod, the oldest house on Cape Cod, and the Sandwich town boardwalk. There are also many shops selling rare books, antiques, and art. The Port of Sandwich is also home to much of the Otis Air National Guard Base.
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