Ørje is known for its canal museum and steamboat club, military fortifications from 1905 and locks. Engebret Soot built the first Norwegian canal locks at Ørje in the years 1857-1860 (no:Ørje sluser). The total lift of the locks are 10 meters (30 feet) divided on 3 steps. The locks are situated between the lakes "Rødenessjøen" and "Øymarksjøen" as a part of the Halden Waterway System.
Ørje was founded in the 1880s around a timber-processing mill. In the decades following the Second World War, Ørje developed substantial industry and commerce. Today, the service sector, including tourism have partly replaced manufacture and agriculture/forestry as the most important economic sectors.
Ørje has become well-known due to a pedestrian crossing sign installed in the village by the Swedish artists' collective Kreativiteket. The sign is based on a character from Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch, and instructs pedestrians to cross the street in a silly manner. 
- "This "Silly Walk" Sign At A Crosswalk In Norway Is The Future Of Traffic Management". 8 April 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
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