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Don't Rush Me

In search of: Lake Orion lore & more!

Historic boat tour are the hot to do thing this summer

August 28, 2013 - Captain's Log, stardate 2013.06.26: Our destination, the farthest reaches of Lake Orion. Pretty cool thing happened on my tour tonight...we were going around Park Island and all of a sudden the boat moved really was like something pushed the boat sideways...something powerful. The water was plenty deep and we definitely could not touch bottom. Five of the 10 people on the boat felt it was the coolest thing ever! I think the dragon is still out there. Capt. R. Campbell

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Riva Campbell with her collection of all things Lake Orion. (click for larger version)
Riva Campbell is a borne and bread lake girl. Lake living is where it's at for her — and where it's at for her is Lake Orion – that nearly 500 acre body of water off of Michigan Highway 24. The waters of Lake Orion have been her home and life from the beginning – her folks have owned and operated Orion Marine for decades. For her entire life she's explored the lake, and listened to stories of ghosts, dragons, people and places.

In 2009, the love of the lake led her to start a historic pontoon boat tour program called, "History, Folklore and Lies of Lake Orion." These two-hour early evening tours have sorta become the "hip" thing to do in the summer. She shares photos and stories about the lake she has run across. And, boy she has ran across a lot of artifacts.

"It's become an obsession," Campbell says. "I go to post card show all across the state and search on-line auctions for historic items."

The items she shares are old post cards, photos, programs from when Lake Orion was an entertainment get away, Detroit train schedules, old souvenir glassware and old historic maps of Lake Orion. She even has an old surveyor's map from before Michigan was a state and before Lake Orion was a lake. Lake Orion was not always Lake Orion, kids, it was five separate lakes that were dammed up in the early 1800s.

Uh. Didn't know that.

Riva did.

Did you know on Dec. 18, 1931 The Lake Orion Review reported that in the spring of 1894, "two Orion ladies who were fishing from a dock, near the Darling cottage" sighted a sea serpent. "Everyone laughed and said it was the root of the weeping willow. However, in a few weeks, one of our citizens, whose reputation for sobriety as well as the truth and veracity could not be questioned, saw the monster."

From the archives . . . a 1931 Lake Orion Review recounts some dragon tales. (click for larger version)
The Review, report said the serpent swam like a dog, "his slimy head . . . being as large as a duck's."

I didn't know that. Riva did. She loves this stuff. And, in over 75 tours she's given, she's always looking for more. She wants to meet with old lake cottage owners, she wants to hear their histories, look at pictures and especially hear old ghost stories and tales of close encounters of the Lake Orion sea serpent kind. She's also willing to purchase original photos and post cards. The tours are on Wednesday evenings (6-8) and only cost $20 a person. She does private tours for groups of six, Monday thru Wednesday. If you know some local lake lore, a have photos of Lake Orion heyday or to book a tour, call 248-891-1260.

To see a photo of the old Review article, read my column on this newspaper's website.

And, as for the log entry at the beginning of this column . . . it's actually taken from a social network Riva posts on. I have just used columnistic license and tweaked her posts up with a StarTrek twist.

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Captain's Log, supplemental: in regards to the fierce rippling water, just between the boat club and Armada Island. Last night the water was doing the rippling effect again! It's defiantly some type of fish making the water do that. :( Really hoping it was something cooler.

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at:
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