The history of Orsa began 365 million years ago by a massive meteorite impact. This natural phenomenon has left one of the largest meteorite craters in Europe. The outer rim of this crater forms a ring of lakes and rivers, the "Siljansringen" (Siljansring) and is named after the largest lake in this chain of lakes - Siljan. The first human traces in this region date back to the Stone Age. On the beach of Oreälven in Skattungbyn a 6000 year old settlement has been discovered. Since that time, Orsa was a settlement area and in the Middle Ages people here founded the first community.
The first "industry" in Orsa was the grindstone production and early 18th century a third of the adult population of Orsa engaged in shaping grindstones or other products from the valuable Orsa sandstone. Between 1600 and 1900 the summer pasture system grew rapidly and a large number of shacks were built at a distance of between 5 and 30 kilometers from the urban area. To secure summer pastures and winter forage for the animals was the most important survival task in those days. Today the pastures are used for recreation and tourist attractions.
Orsa church in the winter
A milestone in the history of Orsa is the construction of the railway line (Inlandsbanan) to Orsa at the end of the 18th century. A few years later the route Orsa-Bollnäs was inaugurated and a few more years later the route to Sveg. After the railroad came to Orsa, the town grew rapidly. Several shops, banks and the post office moved into the area. Today there is very little rail traffic, but an active railroad club transports tourist and charter services with charming old trains.
Orsa järnvägsgatan 1938
In todays Orsa, industry and forestry play a subordinate role. They are replaced by the fast-growing tourism and related service providers. The largest tourism provider in the Siljan area is the Grönklittgruppen (Orsa Grönklitt-). The growing visitor business ensures an upswing in many other industries, such as the construction industry, the transport industry, the service companies and trade.
The Orsa center has been renovated and new residential areas are emerging in attractive locations near the water. The number of cultural events grows rapidly, to the delight of locals and visitors. The traditional Orsa-Yran remains the flagship of these events, but it is in good company ith for example the Orsa Drag Racing Festival, the Traditional Market, the Winter Festival, music and singing with Kalle Moraeus and its guests and the popular television program "Moraeus med mera".