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Officially known as the City of the Village of Clarkston, but more commonly known as Clarkston, Michigan, the city is surrounded by Independence Township, in Oakland County.

Situated on one-half a square mile, Clarkston is the smallest city in the state, by land area, and has a population of just under a thousand. Its peak population was 1,034 in 1970

In the northern segment of the city is a body of water known as Mill Pond, which was created by the Clark Brothers, who constructed a dam on the Clinton River to power their gristmill and sawmill, and later an upholstery factory owned by Henry Ford. There is both an upper and a lower Mill Pond, although the Upper Mill Pond has been losing water in recent years, reverting to part of the river.

The Clinton River connects Mill Pond with Cemetery Lake, which borders the city in the southwest, and with Dollar Lake, south of Clarkston. Canals connect the river with Parke Lake, on the city's eastern border, and Deer Lake, on the western border.

Clarkston is about forty miles north-northeast of the City of Detroit. The chief routes to the city are I-75, which runs east-west just north of the city, and US-24 (Dixie Highway), which runs northwest-southeast just outside of its southwestern border. M-15 becomes Main Street as it runs north-south through Clarkston's downtown district, connecting with I-75 and US-24. White Lake Road enters the city in the southwest, ending at Main Street in downtown Clarkston. Other routes passing through or from the city include Clarkston Road, Holcomb Road, Ortonville Road, and Waldon Road.

Ortonville is 8.8 miles north of Clarkston, while Lake Angelus is 9.8 miles southeast, Holly is 13.4 miles northwest, Auburn Hills is 13.8 miles southeast, Oxford is 14.2 miles northeast, Orchard Lake is 15.3 miles south, Pontiac is 16.9 miles southeast, Lake Orion is 17.3 miles northeast, and Milford is 18.2 miles southwest.

The first home in the area that was to become Clarkston was a cedar-pole shanty built in 1830 by Linus Jacox, a squatter who had come from New York State. The first land purchase in the area was made by the Williams family of Waterford Township in 1823. By 1831, Jacox was joined by the Butler Holcomb, John and Thomas Beardslee, and Melvin Door families, and other settlers soon came from New York, New Jersey, and other places.

Jeremiah Clark came in 1832 and was soon joined by his brothers, Nelson W. Clark and Milton H. Clark, who built homes in the area. The Nelson Clark home still stands on North Main Street. The Clark brothers were very involved in the community, building a sawmill, a gristmill, a fish hatchery, and a general store. Jeremiah Clarkston served as a township supervisor and justice of the peace. The Clarks platted the village in 1840 and on December 2, 1840, the Independence post office was moved to the Clark Store and renamed Clarkston. The town was incorporated as a village in 1925 and became a city in 1992.

The Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad (which later became the Grand Trunk Western/Canadian National) established a station at Clarkston in 1851, bringing tourists from Detroit, Pontiac, and beyond, and spurring the opening of hotels such as the Deer Lake Inn, Dernarest House, and Vliets-On-The-Hill, as well as an opera house on the upper floor of the Maccabees Building downtown.

The automobile and improved roads in the early 1900s brought even more people to Clarkston, as the Saginaw Trail became the Dixie Highway, which was paved in 1920, and M-15 (Main Street) was paved a couple of years later. The Interstate came through just north of Clarkston in 1962, bringing an increase in residential and business development to the village. Farms were subdivided, becoming residential neighborhoods and strip malls as Clarkston began its transition into a northern Detroit suburb.

While Clarkston and the surrounding township area enjoyed busy summer seasons on the lakes, its year-round population didn't reach a thousand until 1970. Clarkston's downtown district was added to the National Register of Historic Places, which allowed for the preservation and continued use of its surviving historic buildings.

The focus of this guide is on the small City of Clarkston, Michigan, and appropriate resources will include websites representing the city, as well as local individuals, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, and events.


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