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Situated in northeast Orion Township in northeast Oakland County, about thirty miles north of Detroit, the village of Lake Orion, Michigan includes several islands, some with seasonal or year-round residences.

The body of water for which the village is named is a 470-acre lake, the eighth-largest lake in the county. The current body of water was formed in the 1820s when several smaller lakes were united after a power dam was built. Most of the lake and its largest islands are within the village limits.

The largest islands, Bellevue Island and Park Island, are connected to the mainland by two-lane bridges and populated throughout the year, while the remaining islands can be reached only by watercraft. Victoria Island, the third-largest, has seasonal and year-round residences, while Squaw Island had one residence for about a hundred years, up to the 1950s, although little remains of the island today, due to erosion. Sweet's Island hosts the Lake Orion Boat Club, and includes a private boathouse and docks for club members. Armada Island has four seasonal cottages, and Dot Island and Romance Island have one each.

The chief route through Lake Orion is M-24 (North Park Boulevard, South Broadway Street), which runs roughly north-south through the mainland portion of the village. Other routes include Orion Road, Miller Road, and Newton Drive.

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Lake Orion include Oxford, Rochester, Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Rochester Hills, Leonard, Clarkston, Lake Angelus, Metamora, Romeo, Ortonville, Bloomfield Hills, Sylvan Lake, Dryden, Keego Harbor, Lapeer, Troy, Utica, and Goodrich.

The first land entries in Lake Orion were made by John Wetmore and Judah Church in 1819, and the nearby Judah Lake was named for Mr. Church. In 1829, Philip Bigler, Jesse Decker, and Needham Hemingway built a dam on Paint Creek to power a sawmill, thereby converting six small lakes into one larger lake. In 1837, Needham Hemingway raised the height of the dam to power a large grist mill that he located below the sawmill, further enlarging the size of the lake to what it is today.

The settlement that grew up around the lake was first known as Canandaigua, for the New York city by that name, the hometown of several of the early settlers.

In 1836, James Stillson platted the townsite as Canandaigua City. However, when a post office was established on June 30, 1834, the community's name was changed to Orion, largely because it was a shorter name. James Decker was the community's first postmaster. The post office's name was changed to Oakland on May 11, 1842, but was closed soon after. On June 28, 1854, the New Canandaigua post office was moved here, and renamed Orion. Orion was incorporated as a village in 1859. On March 25, 1926, the post office was renamed Lake Orion, and the village took that name in 1929.

For about thirty years, Lake Orion was a popular vacation destination, as wealthy Detroit residents bought summer cottages in Lake Orion, while others rented cottages in the area or made day trips to the lake.

The Michigan Central Railroad was built in 1872, facilitating the transport of visitors to the lake. In 1874, a group of local residents, including E.R. Emmons, formed the Orion Park Association to develop a park, now known as Greens Park, near the train depot. A steam-powered boat offered excursions on the lake. Over time, the park was expanded to include a penny arcade, a carousel, souvenir booths, refreshment booths, dining rooms, dance halls, and a roller coaster. The north side of the park included a bathhouse, a waterslide, and diving boards, and the lake was stocked for fishing purposes. In 1930, the park was acquired by the village.

Today, however, Lake Orion is largely a residential community, although it includes several restaurants and commercial businesses serving residents, travelers, and visitors.

The focus of this portion of our guide is on the village of Lake Orion, Michigan. Appropriate topics for this section include websites representing the municipal government, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, recreational opportunities, and informational sites.


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