Oriental was settled by Lewis B. Midyette in the 1870’s. Legend says that "Uncle Lew" anchored his sailboat in the protected waters of Oriental to escape a gale. He was sailing from New Bern back to his home in Dare County where he was a farmer and a fisherman. Storytellers claim that the next morning Lew went ashore and climbed a tree. He was captured by the beautiful landscape and all of the waterfront created by the many creeks. He returned home to persuade others to join his family in moving to the area.
From the early 1900's Oriental's economy was supported by lumber, fishing and
Fishing remains an important part of the town. Fishing trawlers still grace the harbor, bringing in a catch of shrimp, crab or perhaps flounder depending on the season. In recent years, a number of fishing guide services have sprung up to cater to the
Conveniently located on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), Oriental is a popular stop for "snowbirds" cruising south for the winter or heading north for the summer. Many residents will tell you that their first visit to Oriental was by water while cruising coastal North Carolina. The population, according to the 2000 census, is 875, with many newcomers settling in the county subdivisions near the the town.