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Welcome to Life in Orleans, Massachusetts.

orleans ma life

Orleans is a quaint seaside town that sits on the outer elbow of Cape Cod. The town is famous for its beaches, which are situated on both the wild Atlantic Ocean and calmer Cape Cod Bay.

Orleans was first settled in 1693 by Pilgrims from the Plymouth Colony who were dissatisfied with the poor soil and small tracts of land granted to them.

Originally the southern parish of neighboring Eastham, Orleans was officially incorporated in 1797.

Orleans was named in honor of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, in recognition of France’s support for the 13 colonies during the American Revolution, and because the town did not want an English name, as they had been captured twice by the British during the war.

Like much of the Cape, life in Orleans revolved around fishing, whaling and agriculture. As the fishing industry grew, salt works sprang up in the town to help preserve the catches.

However, the town’s growth helped deplete the town of lumber, a situation that did not begin to be remedied until the railroad came and brought lumber from the mainland in the mid-to-late 19th century. The rail also helped bring tourism to the town.

In 1898, the French Cable Company built a 3,200-mile-long (5,100 km) transatlantic cable to Orleans, which operated from the French Cable Station.
The town’s historical society is located in the 1834 Universalist Meeting House.

In July 1918, Orleans was shelled by a German submarine; the only attack on the continental U.S during World War I.

The town’s tourism industry was helped in 1961 with the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore by President John F. Kennedy.

The natural beauty of Orleans’ shores and forests makes the town a perfect spot for a wide range of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, swimming, biking and just plain relaxing in the clean, fresh air.

Surfing is popular at Nauset Beach, known for its expanses of white sand and its gentle waves. Skaket Beach has warm clear waters and tidal pools to explore; at low tide, you can walk for miles on the flats.


  • Paw Wah Point Conservation Area
  • Bakers Pond Conservation Area

View our official Orleans community page at Orleans.MA.Life

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