Oriental, North Carolina

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Oriental, North Carolina
Town dock
Town dock
Location of Oriental, North Carolina
Location of Oriental, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°1′52″N 76°41′16″W / 35.03111°N 76.68778°W / 35.03111; -76.68778Coordinates: 35°1′52″N 76°41′16″W / 35.03111°N 76.68778°W / 35.03111; -76.68778
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
 • Total1.65 sq mi (4.26 km2)
 • Land1.43 sq mi (3.70 km2)
 • Water0.22 sq mi (0.56 km2)
10 ft (3 m)
 • Total880
 • Density615.38/sq mi (237.59/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code252
FIPS code37-49380[2]
GNIS feature ID0991689[3]

Oriental is one of nine incorporated municipalities in Pamlico County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 880, according to the 2020 census. It is part of the New Bern Metropolitan Statistical Area.[4]


The area was settled by Native Americans, who fished and farmed in the creeks and river long before Europeans arrived. Today, fewer than one percent of the town's residents are Native American. Land records date grants from the King of England to colonial farmers, although the King didn't actually own the land, and several current residents of the area can trace their family's genealogy to these times. The area was the haunt of pirates in the early days of European dominance. The famous pirate Edward Teach, or Blackbeard made his home in Bath, to the north of Oriental. The Midgettes (also Midyettes) and other old families who still have descendants in the town came much later, in the late 19th century.

The town of Oriental was named after the Sailing Steamer Oriental. Built in Philadelphia in 1861, the ship was used as a Federal transport ship in the Civil War. She met her fate a year after being launched, run aground in May 1862, when she was wrecked off Bodie Island, 33 miles north of Cape Hatteras. Her passengers and crew were saved.

The United States Post Office Department established a post office in 1886 in what had been called Smith's Creek. Lou Midyette was named postmaster. Postmaster Midyette's wife, Rebecca, thought the village needed a better name. One story says that she had found the nameplate from the wrecked sailing steamer "Oriental" on the beaches of the Outer Banks and thought that name was more suitable. Another version of the story says she just saw the nameplate in a Manteo home. Either way the name "Oriental" made an impression on her. The village became known as Oriental a few years after the post office was established and was incorporated in 1899.

From the early 20th century, Oriental's economy was supported by lumber, fishing and farming. Train service stopped in the 1950s. The last sawmill closed in the early 1960s. Fishing, agriculture, some tourism and marine related businesses now lead the local economy. The town gained national publicity in 2016 when WalMart closed the only food store in town.[5] Fishing trawlers still grace the small harbor, bringing in a catch of shrimp, crab or perhaps flounder depending on the season.

Local destinations[edit]

The nameplate of the city's namesake Sailing Steamer Oriental has been lost, but a porthole from the ship is in the Oriental History Museum. The Oriental History Museum offers enlightening displays of Oriental's early years. The Museum and the Oriental Tourism Board have combined to develop a 1.2-mile historical walking tour covering thirty-seven sites.

Two local festivals attract visitors. The Spirit of Christmas, always held in early December, consists of local businesses holding open houses with hot cider and treats, while the local churches hold Nativity plays and host Christmas music concerts. There is sometimes a boat parade in the harbor, where locals decorate their yachts with Christmas lights. The second large town festival, The Croaker Festival, is an arts and vendor event which benefits the county's nonprofits. It culminates in a fireworks display held during the first weekend each July. In addition, the Oriental Rotary Club sponsors an annual catch-and-release tarpon fishing tournament the last weekend in July (2008 was the 16th year) and, on New Year's Eve, the Oriental dragon makes a run through town twice (at 8 p.m. and at midnight). The Oriental Cup Regatta is held the third Saturday of September, and there are boat races most Saturdays from May through September, and very informal ones most Wednesdays, too. Oriental hosts a Celebration of the Arts festival in mid-September, and has other art festivals throughout the year. The Town sponsors free evening concerts once each summer month which have been well attending by county residents and visitors from neighboring Craven and Carteret counties. The Oriental Tourism Board actively promotes weddings in Oriental and has published a Website that lists venues and service providers.


Oriental is located at 35°1′52″N 76°41′16″W / 35.03111°N 76.68778°W / 35.03111; -76.68778 (35.031010, −76.687871).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2), of which 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (16.79%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[7]

2020 census[edit]

Oriental racial composition[8]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 793 90.11%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 42 4.77%
Native American 3 0.34%
Asian 2 0.23%
Other/Mixed 21 2.39%
Hispanic or Latino 19 2.16%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 880 people, 522 households, and 284 families residing in the town.

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 900 people in Oriental and 13,074 in Pamlico County. Oriental had 477 households in the last census.

Notable person[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ See "Oriental NC"
  5. ^ Ali Weatherton, "Walmart Express closes in Oriental leaving no grocery stores in town," 9-WNCT Jan 16, 2016
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved 2021-12-23.

External links[edit]