Lake Orion, Michigan

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Village of Lake Orion
Downtown Lake Orion
Downtown Lake Orion
Location in the state of Michigan
Location in the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 42°47′3″N 83°14′44″W / 42.78417°N 83.24556°W / 42.78417; -83.24556Coordinates: 42°47′3″N 83°14′44″W / 42.78417°N 83.24556°W / 42.78417; -83.24556
Country United States
State Michigan
County Oakland
 • Village President Ken Van Portfliet
 • Village Manager Darwin D. P. McClary
 • Total 1.30 sq mi (3.37 km2)
 • Land 0.79 sq mi (2.05 km2)
 • Water 0.51 sq mi (1.32 km2)
Elevation 984 ft (300 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 2,973
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 3,032
 • Density 3,763.3/sq mi (1,453.0/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 48359-48362
Area code(s) 248
FIPS code 26-44940[4]
GNIS feature ID 0629989[5]

Lake Orion (/ˈɒrən/ ORR-ee-ən) is a village in Oakland County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 2,973 at the 2010 census.[6] "Lake Orion" is often used to describe both the village and the much larger Orion Township,[citation needed] of which the village is a part.

Lake Orion originated as a resort town and over time has incorporated elements of a bedroom community. At the turn of the twentieth century, the town featured a small amusement park near Park Island on Lake Orion. It included a wooden roller coaster and carousel.


Judah Church and Moses (or Samuel) Munson were among the first settlers. Munson, who arrived in 1824, built a sawmill in 1825, and planted the first orchard. Jesse Decker arrived from upstate New York with his wife, Mary, in 1825. Decker proved to be energetic and became "everything to everybody", so that the place soon became known as "Decker's Settlement".[7] The settlement grew into a bustling commercial center with a sawmill, tavern, post office, general store, blacksmith shop, school and cemetery.[citation needed]

In 1830, Jesse Decker raised the first frame barn in the area with the help of local Indians. The first post office was opened in 1832, with Decker as postmaster.[7] In 1835, a group of settlers gathered in his home and formed a township. By 1836, two persons were licensed to keep taverns in the town, one of whom was Decker.[7] By 1840 Decker owned 440 acres (1.8 km2) of land.[citation needed]

Decker was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1837 and also served as justice of the peace.[citation needed]

The township of Orion was approved by the Michigan Territory in 1835, the same year it applied for statehood. Jesse Decker became the first Supervisor of Orion, with a salary of $2.00 a year.[citation needed]

Lake Orion as a resort and amusement destination in the early 20th century.

Another settlement nearby, New Canadaigua, was absorbed by Orion. This land later helped Orion to establish its first public school in 1859. Orion, already well-established, was platted and chartered, also in 1859. In 1862, a fire ravaged Orion, destroying nearly the entire town.[7] Despite this, the town was rebuilt. The railroad that was built in Orion paved the way to mass development in 1872. The great resort era soon followed after another incredible recovery from a fire in 1874. Orion became well known when lumberjacks bringing lumber to Detroit bunked there, and when Lapeer Road, a highway running through Orion, was paved in 1929, permanent residents moved in.[citation needed]

In 1929, Amelia Earhart visited Lake Orion and flew an experimental glider at Scripps Mansion.[8]

Lake Orion was served by trains on the Michigan Central Railroad and DUR interurban.[9] In 1976, the track east of M-24 was removed, and the line now serves as the recreational Paint Creek Trail.[10]


The story of the Lake Orion Dragon says that sometime in the 1800s a group of local kids played a prank by building a fake dragon and launching it out in the lake. A number of people saw it and soon Lake Orion was known for its dragon. There are a number of stories around about who made it and how they built it but it is widely agreed that it was a prank.

"That same year [1894] the Lake Orion 'dragon' made its entrance into Orion history. First seen by two ladies near the present Robert’s Rondevoo cove, the animal grew in length as the story grew in listeners. What had started out as an average-sized lake monster was claimed by some to be at least eighty feet long. Detroit and other newspapers joshingly suggested, upon hearing of the behemoth, that Orion residents should 'drink more well water in the future.'"[11] The nickname of Lake Orion High School's sports teams (the Dragons) is derived from this.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.30 square miles (3.37 km2), of which, 0.79 square miles (2.05 km2) of it is land and 0.51 square miles (1.32 km2) is water.[1]

Lake Orion[edit]

Lake Orion
Lake Orion aka Orion Lake
Location Lake Orion, Michigan
Basin countries United States
Surface area 482 acres (195 ha)
Max. depth 80 ft (24 m)
Settlements Village of Lake Orion, Michigan

Lake Orion (less commonly known as "Orion Lake") is a medium-sized inland lake, with area of 482 acres (3.2 km²).[12][13] It has a maximum depth of 80 feet and an average depth of 16 feet.[12] The lake is located within the Village of Lake Orion and Orion Township. It is the seventh largest lake by area in Oakland County.

The current area of the lake was formed by a collection of smaller lakes with the damming of Paint Creek in 1839.[14] Canals have also been dredged to maximize lake frontage.

There is a public access boat launch on the northern side of the lake. It is administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.[15]


There are several islands in Lake Orion, some of which feature seasonal and year-round residences. The largest islands, Bellevue and Park, are connected to the mainland by 2-lane bridges and are populated year-round. Most boats can pass under the Bellevue Bridge, which has a clearance of 9.6 feet.[16] The Park Island bridge has a lower clearance that allows only canoes, kayaks, and rowboats to pass underneath. The remaining islands are reachable only by watercraft. Victoria Island is the third largest island, and is home to several seasonal and year-round homes. A smaller island, Squaw Island, was previously was home to a single residence from the 1850s to the 1950s. Little remains of the island due to erosion save for a solitary tree, and the shallow waters can be a hazard to boaters. Sweet's Island is home to the Lake Orion Boat Club, and features a private boathouse and docks for LOBC members. Romance Island is home to a single cottage. Preston Island is home to two seasonal cottages. Dot Island is home to one seasonal cottage. Armada Island is home to 4 seasonal cottages. The residences on all islands except for Bellevue and Park require the use of watercraft to travel to and from the mainland.


The demographics below are for the village only. Refer to Orion Township for the demographics of the entire township.

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 2,973 people, 1,304 households, and 709 families residing in the village. The population density was 3,763.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,453.0 /km2). There were 1,483 housing units at an average density of 1,877.2 per square mile (724.8 /km2). The racial makeup of the village was 94.2% White, 1.6% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.9% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.5% of the population.

There were 1,304 households of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.6% were non-families. 38.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.93.

The median age in the village was 41.2 years. 20.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.9% were from 25 to 44; 27.5% were from 45 to 64; and 16.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the village was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.


The Village of Lake Orion is a Michigan home rule village with a council-manager form of government. The village is governed by a local charter adopted by village electors. The village's legislative body is its village council, comprising a President and six council members. The village council appoints a Village Manager to serve as the Chief Administrative Officer of the government responsible for the management of the village's daily operations and oversight of all departments. Current Village Manager Darwin McClary was appointed as interim manager in April 2013 and was appointed permanently on July 1, 2013.[17]

Lake Orion is served by the Lake Orion Community Schools school district.

Notable people[edit]

This list includes people from Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lake Orion, Michigan
  6. ^ "Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age, and Housing Occupancy: 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File (QT-PL), Lake Orion village, Michigan". U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder 2. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d Seeley, Thaddeus D. History of Oakland County, Michigan. Chicago & New York: The Lewis Publishing Company (1912), Vol. I, pp. 440-43.
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  11. ^ Scott, Paul M. - ORION SINCE 1818
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  15. ^,1607,7-153-10365_10884-65805--,00.html
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  17. ^ Village of Lake Orion web site (
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