Thursday, December 21, 2017
By Victoria  Mona
City Spotlight: Walled Lake

Walled Lake is a small town in Southeast Michigan with a big history. This sleepy town on the northern embankment of the lake with which it shares its name was first settled by Europeans around 1830. Prior to this settlement, the land belonged to a village of Potawatomi Native Americans.

The city of Walled Lake gets its name from a stone wall which runs under the lake’s surface along its western shore. It’s not clear how the wall came to be. Some speculate it was a natural formation carved out by glaciers during the ice age, or that it was a created by the Native Americans who once inhabited the land, serving as a possible dam. Regardless of its origins, the name stuck.

Settlers soon started to pour into the town, intrigued by the cheap land prices. In 1834, the groundwork for a new road connecting Ann Arbor and Pontiac was laid out. This road would become Pontiac Trail and would act as a center of commerce for the town, bringing more people within its borders.

Walled Lake is also home to the Foster Farmhouse, which once was a stop along the Underground Railroad, where slaves could escape to freedom in Canada. The Foster Farmhouse was located on Pontiac Trail near 15-mile road, but was saved from demolition and moved to its current residence of Riley Park in downtown Walled Lake.

After the turn of the century, Walled Lake drew in tourists from all over the area who were seeking relief from urbanization and industrialization. Many flocked to the city in force, and while many were only summer inhabitants, many decided to make a permeant residence there. As population boomed, the quaint city outgrew its small schoolhouse.

Around 1920, the city got its first dance hall and soon opened Walled Lake Casino. Throughout the Big Band Era, the casino hosted famous performers such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and Louis Armstrong. In later years, Chuck Berry and a young Stevie Wonder would also perform at the casino.

Along with the casino, the city constructed Walled Lake Park which was home to the rollercoaster The Flying Dragon. As the park continued to grow into the 1950s, contemporary carnival rides such as a tilt-a-whirl and dodgem cars came to to the lineup. During its heyday, the park saw as many as 25,000 guests a day!

During the late 1960s, the park would close and the casino would burn down. Walled Lake, peculiarly, returned to the same sleepy, little town it had been. Today, Walled Lake is home to many businesses and thriving neighborhoods, while still retaining its rustic charm. If you’re thinking of making the move to Walled Lake, MI, don’t delay in calling Walled Lake’s top realtors, the Harrell Team.