Wellfleet was discovered by Europeans in the early 1600's, when the explorer Samuel de Champlain named it "Port Aux Huitres" (Oyster Port) due the prolific oyster beds. Eventually settled in the mid 1600's by the Europeans such as Billingsgate, Wellfleet was part of neighboring Eastham until 1763, achieving town status after nearly 30 years of petitioning.
Wellfleet's oyster beds drove the early economy, as did whaling and other fishing endeavors. The oyster fleet continues to this day, however, harvesting many other types of shellfish as well.
Construction of the Chequesset Inn in the late 19th century contributed to the development of a tourist economy in Wellfleet. The town has lhe largest number of art galleries on Cape Cod,after Provincetown.