History of Oakland County, Michigan's Lakes Development, Natural and Man Made 
 
THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION
 
Wonderful Country of Lakes—Cass and Orchard—Remarkable Natural Phenomenon—The Lake Orion Region—Summer Resort Features—Transportation Facilities—As A Farming And Live Stock Region—Features Of The Transformation. 
 
The natural features of Oakland County seemed to predestine its material development of the past twenty years or more. 
Its four hundred and fifty lakes, many of which are thus called only by a generous stretch of the imagination, are thickly sprinkled over its gently rolling surface, while pretty islands stud these little gems of water. 
As there is a lake to each two square miles of land it is evident that these charming bodies of water had to be reckoned with in the future of the country.
In the early times those who settled in the county had to live, had to eat and be clothed, and they therefore did what pioneers have always done; they turned to the soil, and raised crops and livestock. 
But as the country developed and became known to outsiders, its attractions as a resort for those seeking rest and recreation, its advantages for those who wished permanent homes with beautiful and comfortable surroundings, became so apparent that there was more and more an insistent demand for land, especially in the vicinity of the lakes—which obviously meant that such demand not only became insistent but widespread. 
Before describing in detail this comparatively lake transformation of Oakland County from an agricultural community to a country of summer and permanent homes, we shall turn in our tracks and note the main features supplied by nature in the bringing about of this change.
 
Wonderful Country of Lakes 
The average number of lakes in each township of Oakland county is eighteen, though Troy, Royal Oak, Southfield, Farmington and Lyon are very deficient in comparison with other sections of the county. 
The largest of the lakes and the most generously supplied of the townships lie west and southwest of Pontiac. 
Orion, toward the northeast, is also the center of one of the most important development of resorts and homes in the county, as it is the nucleus of some of its most charming lakes, the largest of which is the body of water which gives the place its name. 
In the Pontiac group are Cass, Orchard, Elizabeth, Sylvan, and Pine. 
Walled lake to the southwest, lying in both Commerce and Novi townships, is also one of the larger bodies, all of which are over three hundred and fifty acres in extent. 
The largest is Cass, covering about twelve hundred acres, or nearly two square miles. 
It was named after Governor Cass, and lies mostly in West Bloomfield Township, with two of its arms extending into Waterford. 
Its extreme length from southwest to northeast is about two and three quarter miles and its extreme breadth, not measuring its arm, is a trifle over a mile.
Altogether the lakes of Oakland County cover twenty thousand square acres, and the comparative importance of the townships from the standpoint of natural reservoirs is told in the following figures: 
West Bloomfield has a lake surface of 4,000 square acres; Waterford, of 2,600; Orion, 1,700; Commerce, 1,700; White Lake, 1,300; Highland, 1,200; Bloomfield, 1,200; Addison, 1,000; Holly, 900; Rose, 900; Independence, 800; Brandon, 600; Springfield, 600; Novi, 650; Oxford, 500; Groveland, 250; Oakland, 250; Milford, 160; Lyon, 160; Avon, 30.
Cass and Orchard 
Continuing the description of the individual lakes: After Cass comes Orchard Lake, in size; perhaps exceeding it in beauty and general interest. 
It is certainly one of the finest sheets of water in southern Michigan, is circular in form, lies wholly in West Bloomfield Township, and, including the islands encompassed by its water, and covers about eight hundred and fifty acres. Apple Island Orchard Lake
Orchard Lake derives its name from the beautiful island of some thirty acres embraced by it, which the Indians called "Me-nah-sagor-ning," or the "place of the orchard." 
When the United States surveyors and the earliest of the permanent settlers came to this locality, they found quite a number of apple trees still in bearing, supposed to have been planted by French settlers, or at least to have been grown from seeds obtained of them at Detroit. 
Apple Island, as it is now called, is almost in the geographical center of the lake. 
Northwest of it is the smaller Cedar island.
Both Cass and Orchard lakes are now surrounded by summer cottages and homes, pleasant walks and drives meandering around their shores. 
One of the most artistically and thoroughly improved of the beautiful shore lands of Cass lake is known as Keego Harbor, while a popular feature counted among the attractions of Orchard lake is the Polish Seminary, founded upon the old-time Orchard Lake Military Academy. 
The entire chain of little sparkling lakes from Pontiac, southwest to Cass and Orchard—Crystal, Sylvan, Lord and Pine—presents a succession of cottages, boat landings and summer devices, as well as a display of comfortable, if modest, homes for residents who are justly in love with the sunny and gentle picturesqueness of the country.
On The Shores Of Pine Lake, Oakland County, Michigan
The majority of the lakes are drained by Clinton River, although quite a large number in the western and southwestern parts of the county are bound together by the Huron, while some in the northwestern portions find an outlet through the Shiawassee River and thence into Saginaw bay. 
A few lakes in Bloomfield and West Bloomfield townships are also drained through the Rouge River.
Most of the lakes in Oakland County have picturesque, irregular shores, with gravelly beaches, and in the early days were almost wholly encompassed by forests of the American larch, or tamarack. 
Although these have necessarily been thinned out by both the farmer and the home seeker, they remain in the condensed form of hardy and shady groves and some of the smaller islands are still quite thickly clad in pine and cedar.
Remarkable Natural Phenomenon 
A somewhat curious natural phenomenon is noticed in several of the Oakland county lakes, particularly in Cass and Walled Lake, the latter lying mostly in Novi Township, southwest of West Bloomfield. 
Reference is made to the action of the ice which seems to expand from the center and force the sand, gravel and trees back toward the precipitous banks a few rods from the water. 
By this action immense piles of these materials are forced for some distance from the margin, where they are left high and dry after the ice has disappeared in the spring. 
Walled lake is a beautiful body of clear water covering about one square mile, and this action has gone on in that locality so long that in places along its shores a regular wall appears to have been erected by the hand of man. 
At Walled Lake, also, the deposition of boulders is of quite remarkable extent and compactness.
Some years ago, David Ward, who had a farm on the shores of Cass lake, and other competent investigators, carefully looked into this matter. 
The consensus of opinion was this: 
During the most intense of the freezing weather the ice sometimes accumulates on the surface of the water to the thickness of two feet or more. 
This, under atmospheric changes, expands from the center toward the margin of the lake with a force, in the case of Walled Lake, to move boulders several tons in weight. 
Along the southeast shore of Cass lake this action is distinctly marked, a permanent embankment having been formed parallel with the water. 
Along the eastern shore of Orchard lake there is a broad ridge of lake sand, undoubtedly formed by the same action, and in places overgrown by scattering forest trees.
 
A very careful examination of the phenomenon at Walled Lake seems to substantiate the following propositions: 
During the geological Drift period a large deposit of boulders accumulated along the western margin of the lake, and extended a long distance into the water, and on this was formed the sand bar which extends into the lake for some sixty or eighty rods. 
Near the center of the wall-like ridge the ground is some ten feet above the surface of the lake, and here the ridge is wanting; but trending north and south from this high land the slope is gentle until the ridge lies but a few feet above the surface. 
The soil of this vicinity is filled with boulders of various sizes, some being perhaps from one to three tons in weight. 
The expansive action of the heavy ice has operated to simply crowd the surface boulders together; the movement operates precisely like the pushing of sand or gravel before a scraper or board, driven sidewise against it—it piles up and forms a ridge. 
The boulders are driven together in this way by an action continued for centuries perhaps, and the result is the curious wall, about which so much has been written and conjectured. 
Anyone who has even a superficial knowledge of geology will understand when it is stated that it is a glacial moraine on a small scale.
Sylvan lake, already briefly mentioned, was formerly called Timber Lake, and along its shores are some of the most popular resorts for Pontiac people in the county. 
Lake Orion, Oakland County, MichiganThe Lake Orion Region 
Outside of the chains stretching for miles to the west of that city none has a wider popularity as a rendezvous for those who enjoy good boating, Fishing and general out-door pleasures than Lake Orion. 
Detroit and Flint, as well as Pontiac and neighboring towns in the northeastern part of the county, send thither their contributions of resorters. 
Bellevue, sometimes caller Assembly Island, is nearly in the center of the lake, and forms a beautiful spot for summer homes, with which its shores are lined. 
As the region around and in Lake Orion was one of the first to be developed, a somewhat detailed history of the improvements in that vicinity is allowable.
As soon as the Detroit & Bay City Railroad, which runs along its shore, was completed, the region, with Lake Orion as its center, became frequented by pleasure parties from Detroit and other cities. 
About that time E. R. Emmons improved a natural park on the north shore of the lake, which was used largely for picnic purposes. 
In 1874 he placed a small steamer, the "Little Dick," on the lake, and excursions were run to this park and many other islands of the lake. 
The same year a party of speculators purchased one of the finest of these islands and formed themselves into what is known as the Orion Park Association. 
A bridge connecting the island with the mainland, a large reception hall with an observatory, a wharf and boathouse for "Little Dick," and other improvements and attractions were inaugurated and completed, which gave the Lake Orion region quite a wide reputation among the really popular summer resorts of southern Michigan. 
In 1899 the Lake Orion Assembly Resort was organized, which practically purchased all the lake front. 
The company erected fine buildings, hotels and boathouses, and for ten years operated a Chautauqua on quite an extensive scale. 
In 1910 the Lake Orion Summer Homes Company succeeded by purchase to the assets of the Assembly Resort. 
Twenty-one islands controlled by the management of the resort give ample assurance of seclusion and privacy to those who wish to go into retreat in vacation days, rather than mingle with the crowds of enthusiastic pleasure seekers, and cottages are for hire on all these little beauty spots for those who are not attracted by hotel life. 
Many of the homes are owned by regular summer visitors, and the Lake Orion Summer Homes Company has done much for the up-building of the place through its plan of building homes to suit the owner. 
Lake Orion offers many natural advantages which alone would make it a most pleasant summering spot, and the extensive improvements wrought by the company which controls the amusement project have well completed what nature had so fairly begun.
Northeast of the Lake Orion region in Addison Township is also Lakeville Lake, with Leonard as the nearest village in this developing section of summer resorts. 
Deer Lake in Independence Township and almost in Clarkson Village has lately sprung into considerable notice, while Mace Day Lake and Windiate Park, in Waterford Township, have been for years the resting places of numerous resorters.
Summer Resort Features 
Most of the beautiful lakes of Oakland County are readily accessible by means of either the Detroit United Electric Railway or the Grand Trunk lines. 
The country roads are, as a rule, well-built and kept in good repair, and, in all seasonable weather, automobilists are much in evidence. 
The season of the summer resorters in Oakland County commences early and lasts well into October, which makes both summer homes and hotels profitable. 
This fact ensures reasonable rents and steady income. 
While there are no mammoth hotels, such as are found at short-season resorts, there is an abundance of fair-sized hostelries and comfortable boarding houses.
Reference has been made to Oakland County as a favorite of the automobilist, on account of its good roads. 
He himself should be given full credit for bringing about this improvement over the old order. 
And he has been given his due as witness the following from a metropolitan sheet: 
"The advent of the automobile has tended greatly to spread the knowledge of Oakland county lakes. 
Before the automobile came into general use few people were able to get about the country to see what it contained.
With the automobile, came the tendency toward good roads. 
Although at the present time many roads of the county are still in bad shape, they are all being gradually improved and a number are in excellent condition. 
In time there will be perfect automobile roads around the larger lakes of the country and between Detroit and Pontiac, which will undoubtedly mean that Oakland's lakes will be even more popular than they are at present."'