Many locals attest that Oriental is a "contagious destination," where vehicular travelers via the two lane US 55, or maritime travelers along the Neuse River or Pamlico Sound, tend to stop by for a night or two, and end up sticking around for an extended, if not permanent, stay. A salty and friendly community that is relatively isolated from the rest of the central Inner Banks, this small town is big on community spirit, and possesses a natural love of all things nautical that is evident around every boat dock, every waterfront boardwalk, and every winding creek.
What we now know as Oriental was first settled about 1870 by Louis B. Midyette. He took shelter in the area's natural harbor on the Neuse River and the mouth of Smith Creek when he was blown off course on his way to New Bern.
First known as Smith's Creek. It was later renamed for the Federal transport, Oriental, which sank on May 8, 1862, south of Oregon Inlet near Bodie Island. Rebecca Midyette, wife of Louis Midyette, found the nameplate one day on the beach. Obviously the residents liked the name.
For years the town was a center of commercial fishing, and the big trawlers still unload their catches here. In the early part of the century, the town boomed when loggers used the docks to ship the timber they harvested from the peninsula between the Neuse and Pamlico rivers. This boom brought railways, hotels, and dance halls.
Now, as in the past, there are boats. But today, there is a mixture of commercial trawlers and sleek yachts that is the hallmark of Oriental.