Logo   Orleans, Massachusetts
The Duke of Orleans made a visit to Cape Cod in 1797, and the townspeople named their town in the French nobleman's honor.

by Tom Brosnahan
Travel Info Exchange



Orleans, 37 miles (60 km) east of the Cape Cod Canal and 26 miles (42 km) south of Provincetown (map), is where all Cape Cod roads meet.

US Route 6, the Mid-Cape Highway; MA Route 6A along the northern part of the Inner Cape; MA Route 28 along the southern part of the Inner Cape; and the Cape Cod Rail Trail bicycle path all meet in Orleans, from which US 6 continues north to Provincetown.

This central position makes Orleans a good place to stay if this is your first visit to Cape Cod, you only have a few days, and you want to tour most of the Cape.

Orleans doesn't have a lot of hotels, motels and inns, but the ones it has are quite nice, and value-priced. More...

Orleans's beaches are enjoyable (including those of the nearby Cape Cod National Seashore), the scenery is fine, and Orleans even has other interesting sights: a windmill and a historic communications museum, to name just two. More...

Orleans History

Known as Nauset since its earliest settlement in 1644, the town was renamed Orleans in 1797 when it was separated from neighboring Eastham and incorporated.

In its day Orleans has made its living through fishing and shellfishing, clothing manufacture, agriculture, and the production of salt from seawater, not to mention trade in contraband.

During the Revolutionary War, Orleans sent men and supplies to aid the colonial forces.

In the War of 1812, the town refused to pay $1000 "protection money" demanded by the British enemy. A landing force was sent ashore from HMS Newcastle, and the town militia quickly convinced the Redcoats that it was probably a good idea to return to the ship, which they did. Needless to say, Orleans kept its $1000.

In 1879 Orleans was physically connected by underwater telegraph cable with the town of Brest in France, almost 4000 miles (6400 km) away. You can still see the telegraph station where the cable came ashore before continuing overland to New York.

When a German submarine broke the surface off Nauset Beach during World War I, the townspeople demonstrated their coolness in the face of danger, as they had during the War of 1812. The sub released a few torpedos at some coal barges, and everybody turned out to watch the show.

Hotels, Motels & Inns in Orleans

What to See & Do in Orleans

Cape Cod National Seashore





Cape Cod Transportation

About Cape Cod

  Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Salt Marsh, Orleans MA

Salt marsh off Nauset Beach
in Orleans MA.





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