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 2,087 at the 2000 census.
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 1/10 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.