Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach is located in southern Baldwin County in the southwest corner of the state on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. It has a mayor/city council form of government.
The area that now comprises Orange Beach was first settled in the mid-1860s, with the western portion of the present town being known as Orange Beach, the central portion being known as Caswell, and the eastern end being known as Bear Point.
This latter section of the present-day island was a Creek settlement until the early nineteenth century. Given the town’s proximity to vast forestland’s, early businesses included turpentine and naval stores production and a shingle mill. As forestlands were depleted in the late nineteenth century, they were replaced with orange groves, from which the town derived its present name.
The first groves were planted by Lemuel Walker Sr., in whose home the first post office opened in 1901. The citrus industry remained an important aspect of the local economy until several hard freezes, the last being in 1926, effectively ended it.
Settlement in the area was hampered by poor roads, with most travel taking place via water. The Intracoastal Waterway was expanded into the area around 1910, thereby cutting off most of the town of Orange Beach from the mainland but providing more access by water.
Tourism gradually brought more development to the area, not just to the beaches but to the new charter fishing industry.
One of the first tourist hotels was built in the early 1920s, at about the same time that locals began renting their boats for one-day fishing expeditions.
The Intracoastal Waterway was completed in 1932 and improved travel by water, and the first paved road to the town was completed in 1947.
Electrical service was established in Orange Beach in 1948 and phone service in 1956. The Orange Beach Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1961. A public water system came into operation in 1974.