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Wareham, Massachusetts
"The Gateway to the Cape"
"The Gateway to the Cape"
Official seal of Wareham, Massachusetts
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Plymouth
Settled 1678
Incorporated 1739
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 46.3 sq mi (119.9 km2)
 • Land 35.8 sq mi (92.7 km2)
 • Water 10.5 sq mi (27.1 km2)
20 ft (6 m)
 • Total 23,303
 • Density 503.3/sq mi (194.35/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 508/774
FIPS code 25-72985
GNIS feature ID 0618353

Wareham ( WAIR-ham) is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2020 census, the town had a population of 23,303.


Wareham was first settled in 1678 by Europeans as part of the towns of Plymouth and Rochester. It was officially incorporated in 1739 and named after the town of Wareham in England. Because of its geography, Wareham's early industry revolved around shipbuilding and the related industries. It also served as a resort town, with many smaller resorts scattered around the town, especially in Onset. Like Sandwich, its waterways, especially Buttermilk Bay, were considered as possible pathways for the Cape Cod Canal. Although the canal proper goes through Bourne and Sandwich, the southern approach to Buzzards Bay passes just south of the peninsulas that make up the topography of the town.

Wareham is home of the Tremont Nail Factory, the oldest nail manufacturer in the United States. The factory was established in 1819.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 46.3 square miles (120 km2), of which 35.8 square miles (93 km2) is land and 10.5 square miles (27 km2) is water. The total area is 22.64% water. Wareham is bordered by Marion to the southwest, Rochester to the west, Middleborough to the northwest, Carver and Plymouth to the north, and Bourne to the east. The town's localities are numerous, the most important being East Wareham, Onset, Point Independence, Wareham Center, and West Wareham. The town is just west of Cape Cod, and is 18 miles (29 km) east of New Bedford, approximately 45 miles (72 km) east of Providence, Rhode Island and 55 miles (89 km) south-southeast of Boston.

Wareham is the innermost town on the north shore of Buzzards Bay. The Weweantic River empties in the southwest corner of town, with the Sippican River and other brooks emptying into it. The Wareham River, which is formed at the confluence of the Wankinco and Agawam rivers, flows into the harbor east of the Weweantic, and has brooks and the Mill Pond River as tributaries. To the east lie Onset Bay and Buttermilk Bay, both of which empty into the head of the bay, at the right-of-way of the Cape Cod Canal. Between these rivers and bays lie several points and necks, including Cromesett Point, Swift's Neck, Long Beach Point, Indian Neck, Stony Point, Cedar Island Point, Codman's Point, Sias Point and Whittemore's Point. The southern boundary of Myles Standish State Forest is concurrent with the town line between Wareham and Plymouth.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1870 3,186 —    
1880 3,186 +0.0%
1890 3,098 −2.8%
1900 2,896 −6.5%
1910 3,451 +19.2%
1920 3,432 −0.6%
1930 4,102 +19.5%
1940 6,364 +55.1%
1950 7,569 +18.9%
1960 9,461 +25.0%
1970 11,492 +21.5%
1980 18,457 +60.6%
1990 19,232 +4.2%
2000 20,335 +5.7%
2010 21,822 +7.3%
2020 23,303 +6.8%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2000, there were 20,335 people, 8,200 households, and 5,338 families residing in the town. The population density was 568.1 people per square mile (219.3/km2). There were 10,670 housing units at an average density of 298.1 per square mile (115.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town as of July 2019 was 85.7% White, 2.7% African American, Asian 0.6%, 5.1% from two or more races, 3.6% Hispanic or Latino and 0.6% American Indian.

There were 8,200 households, out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.9% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 24.5% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,422, and the median income for a family was $45,750. Males had a median income of $37,601 versus $28,306 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,312. 10.7% of the population and 8.1% of families were below the poverty line. Of those 16.6% under the age of 18 and 13.5% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Major highways

The town has always been a vital transportation point, as the Bay Colony Railroad crosses through the town on its way to Cape Cod. There is a rail station in the town center just behind Main St. Next to the pond. Interstates 495 and 195 both terminate in the western part of town, with I-495's highway route continuing on as Massachusetts Route 25, which passes through town and around Buttermilk Bay before ending at the Bourne Bridge. Additionally, U.S. Route 6 and Massachusetts Route 28 meet in East Wareham and continue on towards Cape Cod. Route 58's southern terminus is at Route 28 in Rochester near the Wareham town line.


There is currently no commuter rail service to Wareham, as the MBTA's Middleborough/Lakeville Line was only restored to Middleborough/Lakeville in 1997. The seasonal CapeFLYER service began stopping at Wareham Village station in June 2014. Based on the success of the CapeFLYER, commuter service to Wareham and Buzzards Bay is under consideration.

The nearest inter-city (Amtrak) passenger rail stations are Route 128, Providence, and Boston's South Station. The nearest MBTA Commuter Rail station is Middleborough/Lakeville.

Freight rail service is provided by the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad.


Bonanza Bus Lines stops at the Mill Pond Diner daily. A local bus service, the OWL (Onset Wareham Link), operated by the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA), provides bus service around Wareham. The buses also have run to a Tedeschi store in Bourne for connection to Bonanza Buses and to the MBTA's Middleborough/Lakeville Station. Service to these locations is often changed.


The nearest national and international flights can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston or T. F. Green Airport in Rhode Island. Barnstable Municipal Airport is also a short trip away, although it only allows for national service.

Points of interest

  • Tremont Nail Factory District, a historic nail factory located at 21 Elm Street, which operated from 1819 to 2006 by the Tremont Nail Company
  • Water Wizz, water park in the area. Recently it was a spot of filming for the 2010 film Grown Ups and the 2013 film The Way, Way Back.


Today, Wareham is mostly residential, although it still has a strong summer tourism industry. It has retail centers along Routes 6 and 28, including Wareham Crossing, opened in 2007.

Historically, the cranberry industry has dominated Wareham's economy, as evidenced by the fact that the main local road is known as Cranberry Highway (Route 28) and one of the world's largest cranberry growers, the A.D. Makepeace Company (a founder of the Ocean Spray growers' cooperative), is headquartered in Wareham. The University of Massachusetts Cranberry Research Station is also located in Wareham, as is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cranberry Marketing Committee.


Mo Vaughn Wareham Gatemen
Boston Red Sox All-Star Mo Vaughn played for the Wareham Gatemen in 1987 and 1988.

Wareham is home to the Wareham Gatemen, an amateur collegiate summer baseball team in the Cape Cod Baseball League. The team plays its home games at Clem Spillane Field, and has featured dozens of players who went on to careers in Major League Baseball, such as Mo Vaughn, Lance Berkman, and Kyle Schwarber.

Wareham has many town youth sports as well, including Wareham Little League, Wareham JBA, Gateway Babe Ruth, Pop Warner Wareham Tigers, Wareham Girls Softball (WGSA), and more.


Public schools

Wareham has a public school system. There is one elementary school—John W. Decas. Minot Forest Elementary—was closed in 2018 and absorbed into the middle school until a new building is erected for Minot.; Wareham Middle School; and Wareham High School. The East Wareham Partnership houses the former West Wareham Academy and the Cooperative Junior-Senior High School.

Wareham High competes in the South Coast Conference for athletics. Its nickname is the Vikings, and its colors are Blue, White, and Gold. Wareham competes with Bourne High School in an annual Thanksgiving Day football game.

The town also sends students to Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School

High school students may also choose to attend Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Bourne.

Private schools

There are no private schools in the town, with the nearest being Tabor Academy in Marion. The nearest Catholic high school is Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth.

Notable people

  • Outram Bangs (1863–1932), zoologist
  • Benjamin Briggs (1835–c. 1872), Captain of the merchant ship Mary Celeste
  • Joe Campinha (1920–2001), Negro league baseball player with the Baltimore Elite Giants
  • Stephen Cooper (born 1979), NFL Football player for the San Diego Chargers
  • Geena Davis (born 1956), Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actress
  • Paul Fearing (1762–1822), a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio
  • Greg F. Gifune (born 1963), Novelist, Editor
  • John Kendrick (1740–1794), sea captain and explorer of the Pacific Northwest
  • Eugene T. Maleska (1916–1993), New York Times crossword puzzle editor, had a home in town
  • Donald W. Nicholson (1888–1968), congressman
  • Pebbles (Susan L. Samedo, born 1964), Boston radio personality
  • Skipp Sudduth (born 1956), actor
  • Samuel T. Wellman (1847–1919), steel industry pioneer, industrialist, and prolific inventor
  • Brandon Westgate (born 1989), professional skateboarder
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