Monday, December 14, 2015

This 2-part 365 story was written by Ward Randol, who chairs the board lake committee of the Lake Charnwood Property Owners Association, with the invaluable help of Kurt Bovensiep, Public Works Manager of Troy’s DPW which has a historical collection of aerial photography maps showing the changes in Troy’s topography since the 1960’s.

When the pioneers first saw Troy in the 1820’s, they were confronted with a flat or gently rolling landscape covered with trees.  However, there were no natural lakes.  We know from photos taken in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s that much of Troy’s land did not drain well after rainstorms or snowmelt, so there were many seasonal ponds – but no lakes.  How, then, did Troy acquire the eleven lakes shown on its current maps?

Seven of these are the Emerald Lakes, clustered north of the intersection of John R and Square Lake Roads.  12,000 years ago the glacier which had covered this area, and brought with it rocks and other ground cover from up north, melted and left behind thousands of tons of gravel in place in northeast Troy.  In the first half of the 20th century these gravel deposits were intensively mined and removed.  The gravel pits filled with water over time from underground springs and runoff and became the Emerald Lakes, which now have beaches, are interconnected into the Fetterly Drain and are surrounded by lovely homes.  See photos on the Emerald Lakes’ website Less than a mile east of the Emerald Lakes is an eighth lake, Sanctuary Lake, built as a retention pond for Troy Beaumont Hospital in the 1960’s.

Across the top of Troy to the west, the Sprague Branch of the Rouge River, little larger than a creek, enters the City from Bloomfield Township under Adams Road between South Boulevard and Square Lake, south of the Bharatiya Temple.  This mini-river flows east through wetlands and then enters Lake Charnwood, an 8-acre lake created from the Rouge by a dam built near Beach Road in 1963.  The occupants of all 131 homes in the Lake Charnwood subdivision have beach privileges and can launch non-motorized boats in the subdivision’s lakefront park.

After flowing over the Lake Charnwood dam and under Beach Road, the Sprague Branch of the Rouge continues east into the Troy Nature Center where it forms a small pond used for nature studies.  Then the stream keeps on going east under Coolidge Highway toward the Sprague Drain which has run south under South Boulevard from Rochester Hills into Troy.  These 2 streams of water join forces in Firefighters Park, after which the enhanced Rouge flows south and west through Troy back into Bloomfield Township under Adams south of Wattles Road.

For photos go to:


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at

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