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Truro, Massachusetts
Truro Town Hall
Truro Town Hall
Official seal of Truro, Massachusetts
Location in Barnstable County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Barnstable County and the state of Massachusetts.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Barnstable
Settled 1700
Incorporated 1709
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 26.3 sq mi (68.2 km2)
 • Land 21.1 sq mi (54.5 km2)
 • Water 5.3 sq mi (13.6 km2)
25 ft (8 m)
 • Total 2,454
 • Density 116.3/sq mi (45.0/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 508 Exchange: 349
FIPS code 25-70605
GNIS feature ID 0618260

Truro is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States, comprising two villages: Truro and North Truro. Located slightly more than 100 miles (160 km) by road from Boston, it is a summer vacation community just south of the northern tip of Cape Cod, in an area known as the "Outer Cape". English colonists named it after Truro in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

The historic Wampanoag Native American people called the area Pamet or Payomet. Their language was part of the large Algonquian family. This name was adopted for the Pamet River and the harbor area around the town center known as the Pamet Roads. The population of Truro was 2,454 at the 2020 census.

Over half of the land area of the town is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, and administered by the U.S. National Park Service.


Truro - Cape Cod Light 1d crop
Highland Light. The original site is marked by a boulder in the foreground.

Cape Cod was the territory of succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. At the time of English colonization, the Wampanoag tribe was the dominant one on Cape Cod, numbering about 7,000 by early accounts. They used the cape and its waters for hunting, fishing and gathering shellfish. They also cultivated maize to supplement their diets and to store for winter eating.

The English Pilgrims stopped in Truro and Provincetown in 1620 as their original choice for a landing before later deciding the area to be unsuitable. While there, they discovered fresh water and corn stored by the Wampanoag. Historians debate the accuracy of the account about the latter discovery, but in popular lore it led to the place being called Corn Hill.

Truro was settled by English immigrant colonists in the 1690s as the northernmost portion of the town of Eastham. The town was officially separated and incorporated in 1709. Fishing, whaling and shipbuilding made up the town's early industry. These industries had to shift to other locations as the harsh tides of the Lower Cape began decimating the town's main port in the 1850s. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Cape Cod was a popular location for artists because of its light.

Today, Truro is one of the more exclusive towns on the Cape, noted for its affluent residences and the rolling hills and dunes along the coast. Truro is the site of the Highland Light (also known as the Cape Cod Light), the first lighthouse on Cape Cod. The first building was erected in 1797; the current lighthouse was built in 1857. The entire 430-ton light was moved about 110 of a mile inland in 1996. By then, because of erosion, its original site was just ten yards from the edge of the shore cliffs.

The old town cemetery was the location of the murders in 1969 of Susan Perry, Patricia Walsh, Sydney Monzon and Mary Anna Wysocki by Tony Costa.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 26.3 square miles (68 km2), of which, 21.0 square miles (54 km2) of it is land and 5.3 square miles (14 km2) of it (20.02%) is water. Truro is located just south and east of the "tip" of Cape Cod, and is bordered by Provincetown to the northwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and east, Wellfleet to the south, and Cape Cod Bay to the west. The town is thirty-eight miles by road to Barnstable, fifty miles from the Sagamore Bridge and 105 miles by road from Boston.

The topography generally slopes downward from the Atlantic to Cape Cod Bay, and from south to north. There are several small ponds throughout town, all of which combined are smaller than the Pilgrim Lake, just east of the Provincetown town line, and just south of the sand dunes which make up most of the northern tip of the Cape. Pamet Harbor, a small inlet, is in the southern half of the town on the Cape Cod Bay side, and leads to the Pamet River. Just south of the lighthouse is a Coast Guard radar station, equipped with a Doppler radar tower, close to the nearby Jenny Lind Tower.


As of the census of 2000, there were 2,087 people, 907 households, and 515 families residing in the town. The population density was 99.1 people per square mile (38.3/km2). There were 2,551 housing units at an average density of 121.2 per square mile (46.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.11% White, 1.87% African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 0.77% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.15% of the population.

There were 907 households, out of which 21.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 17.4% under the age of 18, 4.1% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 34.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.7 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $42,981, and the median income for a family was $51,389. Males had a median income of $37,208 versus $30,435 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,608. About 4.8% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.5% of those under age 18 and 10.3% of those age 65 or over.

Tideline Truro
Tideline in North Truro, MA


U.S. Route 6 (US 6) is the main route through town, traveling through the town from south to north on its way to Provincetown. The "second" portion of the Cape's Massachusetts Route 6A (Route 6A) begins in the town, tracing the original path of US 6, and traveling into Provincetown barely 250 feet (76 m) south of the main route. There is no rail or air service in the town; the nearest regional airport is located in neighboring Provincetown. The nearest national and international air service can be found at Logan International Airport in Boston.

Truro in popular culture and art

Artist Edward Hopper owned a summer house in Truro, and painted numerous Truro scenes including Corn Hill (1930), Highland Light, North Truro (1930), and Cottages at North Truro (1936).

The first film in the Men In Black series displayed Truro on a satellite map, but the map zoomed in on Sandwich, a town at the opposite end of Cape Cod. In Men in Black II (2002) Truro was the town to which Tommy Lee Jones' character "Agent K" retired and became a postal worker. The post office was portrayed as a solitary building in the middle of nowhere. In contrast, Truro's post office is in the heart of "downtown" Truro, which is also the location of a small convenience store and a few shops.


Off Head of the Meadow beach on the Atlantic side of Truro lies the wreck of the three-masted barque Frances. The Hamburg-based ship wrecked off Truro on December 27, 1872, while on her way from the Far East to Boston. Usually submerged, the wreck will appear when weather and tides line up.


Truro operates the Truro Central School for students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. The town does not have its own middle or high school; a tuition agreement is in place with the Provincetown and Nauset Regional school districts, the latter of which operates Nauset Regional High School. Cape Cod Times states that normally Nauset secondary schools are the destinations of students above grade 6.

There are no private schools anywhere on the lower Cape; high school students additionally have the option of attending the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich, Monomoy Regional High School In Harwich, or students can attend Sturgis Charter school In Hyannis.

There are private scholarships for students from Truro and Provincetown: the John Anderson Francis Family Scholarship Fund and the Captain Joseph F. Oliver Scholarship Fund. c. 2019 each year the number of applicants ranged from 6–10, a figure the organizers consider to be low.

The Truro Public Library is in the city. The library has a puppet theater performance. The outside of the facility has a pavilion. Cynthia McCormick of Cape Cod Times described it as "a home away from home for parents".

Notable people

Boston Red Sox pitcher Danny MacFayden
  • Marshall Ayres, pioneer of the American west
  • Edward Knight Collins, 19th-century shipping magnate
  • Lee Falk, writer
  • L. Thomas Hopkins, education theorist
  • Edward Hopper, artist
  • Patty Larkin, singer-songwriter
  • Lucy L'Engle, artist
  • Danny MacFayden, Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Nick Minnerath, professional basketball player
  • Steve Nelson, political activist and veteran of the Spanish Civil War
  • Anthony Perkins, American actor
  • Josh Taves, American football defensive end

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