Orleans is another town that claims to have been discovered by Leif
Eriksson in 1003. We do know that Bartholomew Gosnold, who named the
peninsula "Cape Cod," anchored off Nauset in 1602 and Champlain
anchored at Nauset in 1605. The first settlers came to the Orleans
area in 1644, when it was part of Eastham and the South Parish was
created. Orleans became a town in 1797 and nobody today knows just
how or why the name Orleans was chosen. At the time the residents
were not happy with the French as French ships were harassing
American ships and there was talk of war. However, whatever the
reason, "Why 'Orleans'?" is a question that always stimulates
imaginations of the locals.
"Why Orleans?" if a visitor asks, is easy to answer.
"Because Orleans is a town that has much to offer."
You like the water, no other Cape town can lead you to more of it in
short distances. Skaket Beach and Rock Harbor are Orleans' gateways
to Cape Cod Bay. Nauset Beach, part of the National Seashore, is
Orleans' border on the Atlantic Ocean, more than six miles of
barrier beach backed by marsh that protects the town and forms the
eastern border of Pleasant Bay and Little Pleasant Bay, one of the
most popular areas for sailing on Cape Cod. North of town, Nauset
Harbor providers another opportunity for boaters and fishers.
Orleans is not just surrounded by water. Water pokes its fingers
into almost every nook and cranny of the town.
Orleans is also the commercial center of the Lower Cape.