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CCNS-HC Helltown.jpg

(1882)

Helltown (or Hell Town).

The settlement south of Hatches Harbor and north of Lancy’s Harbor (an inlet that no longer exists) emerged in the 1880s and remained within living memory well into the 1960s. At its peak, Helltown had 33 buildings, a fleet of 30 dories and a working population of about 125 fishermen, according to an informal history by Irving S. Rogers. It was busiest in winter, when Grand Bankers and schooners were necessarily at anchor and men sought fish in closer grounds. Huts so near the water meant a considerable saving of precious time each day, until the coming of the “gasoliners” eliminated that advantage. Rogers implied that Helltown earned its name from hellish working conditions. But when Mary Heaton Vorse asked an old captain why it was called Helltown, she was answered, “Because of the helling that went on there.” That licentious Helltown — a Tenth Circle to Provincetown’s Ninth — now occupies the popular imagination, in which it’s often confused or conflated with Long Point.

¶ Adapted from Building Provincetown (2015). ¶ Image from Bird’s Eye View of the Town of Provincetown (1882), by A. F. Poole, courtesy of the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House.

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