Ron Petersen – Author

History is a highly perishable commodity-once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. As generations pass, buildings are demolished, artifacts disappear, documents are lost, and memories fade. Unchecked, we lose a bit of our heritage and culture one step at a time. The Orleans Historical Markers Committee, in our current effort to check the demise of our Town’s incredibly rich history, were heartened to learn that we are not the first, but the third effort to preserve our history through historic markers at key historic sites.

The first known attempt to preserve the Town’s history through markers occurred in 1960. The annual Town Meeting that year approved $600 for “the purpose of marking historical sites in the Town as recommended by the committee appointed by the Selectmen.” Twelve markers were produced locally using plywood. They were painted, lettered, and placed at significant sites including Rock Harbor, Nauset Beach, Snow’s Shore, and Jeremiah’s Gutter. All of the signs were removed and stored for the winter to protect them from the harsh winters.

In 1973, the Town Meeting approved the creation of the Orleans Bicentennial Commission, and members were appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The purpose of the Commission was to plan ways in which the Town could celebrate the upcoming 200th anniversary of our nation. This Commission produced seventeen historical markers in cast aluminum that were erected as a part of the Town’s 1976 celebration. A listing of these markers, which still stand today, follows.

The Historical Markers Committee is proud to initiate the first effort in the Twenty-first Century to carry on this tradition of remembering people, events, and structures long gone that form the cornerstone of our heritage today.

Sites of 1976 Historic Markers

  1. Rock Harbor
  2. Site of Higgins Tavern
  3. Site of John Doane Mansion
  4. Site of Giles Hopkins Homestead
  5. Isaac Snow Homestead
  6. Nauset Beach
  7. Ancient “Pochet Pond”
  8. Snow’s Shore
  9. Pleasant Bay
  10. Site of Tidewater Grist Mill
  11. French Cable Station
  12. Orleans Oldest House
  13. First Cape Cod Canal (Jeremiah’s Gutter)
  14. East Orleans Country Store
  15. Home of Margaret A. Sanger
  16. Jonathan Young Windmill
  17. Site of Howard Johnson’s