Orleans is the oldest platted town in Orange County

ORLEANS – This week the Town of Orleans’s Homecoming is being celebrated as a fundraiser for American Legion Post 69.

The town of Orleans established in 1815.

There is a rich history of the town which was formed a year before Indiana became a state in 1815. The Town of Orleans gets its name from the Battle of New Orleans. The famous victory over the British was fought in January of that year. The founders of the town wanted to name the town after Andrew Jackson’s great victory.

The railroad that once ran through the town played an important part in its development.

The railroad played a huge part in the development of the town. At one time the town of Orleans had 22 passenger trains that left every single day.

Some of the trains switched lines in Orleans and would travel to French Lick and West Baden.

There were three hotels in the town at one time.

Business continues in the small town of Orleans

“The railroad brought a lot of good things to the town. The railroad brought commerce and business which allowed the town to prosper,” said Robert Henderson Clerk-Treasurer Orleans who shared the history of the town with WBIW.

Orleans now has a population of just over 2,100 residents. The town is working on revitalizing the downtown. The centerpiece of the town that also serves as the primary gathering place for it’s residents is Congress Square.

The park was developed some 200 hundred years ago.

Orleans Academy was built in 1866 and opened in 1867. In the 1870s the Academy was purchased and its building made part of the public schools. The building remained in use until it was razed on October 7, 1963. After 1963 a park was built here.

The park was dedicated on June 7, 2001. The bandstand was built in 1926.

Congress Square has been the center of educational, social, political, and business activity, creating a strong scene of community throughout Orlean’s history.

“This is where we come together to celebrate, commemorate events, hold festivals, and special events. We have one of the top ten Farmer’s Market’s in the United States,” added Henderson.

First night of the Orleans Homecoming 2021

“We are really excited about the good things that are happening in our community. We are pleased with the investments in business that have been coming into our town. We continue to work hard to bring new business and support the local business that is already here,” said Henderson. “There have been challenges to keep the town revitalized and viable but we have a wonderful sense of hometown pride.”

The town partners with the community to work together to make Orleans a thriving community.

One of the many events the community hosts is the famous Dogwood Festival. The town has not able to hold that event for the last two years because of the impact of the COVID pandemic.

“This year, we wanted to have some kind of community celebration. So the American Legion and Chamber of Commerce said why don’t we have some type of summer homecoming,” added Henderson.

The American Legion would host a carnival and summer homecoming in years past. After the cancellation of the Dogwood Festival. The American Legion stepped up and decided to host the Homecoming event with the Chamber of Commerce.

However, during Dogwood Festival time the weather can be fickle, with rain and cold temperatures. So the group decided to host the homecoming around the Fourth of July. What better time to bring the community together. After almost 15 months of quarantine and restrictions, it was time to celebrate.

Many pass through the Town of Orleans on State Road 37 near the intersection of State Road 337 in Orleans

Looking to the future the town hopes to continue to thrive by bringing new business to Orleans and to maintain the small-town atmosphere.

“Our town has a Mayberry feel to it, but it was not really Mayberry. The town of Mayberry’s problems were solved in about thirty minutes. When I refer to it as Mayberry it was the sense and feeling of caring and friendliness we have,” added Henderson. “We enjoy our small-town life and the slower pace. It is a great place to call home.”

This Orleans Homecoming celebration will continue until Friday, so come visit Orleans and support American Legion Post 69 and enjoy the hometown atmosphere and fun.

WBIW will have a full feature story of the American Legion Post 69 and their community involvement later this week.