Runyan Lake Inc.

The lake association for the entire community of Runyan Lake
located in Tyrone Township, Livingston County, Michigan.



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History of Runyan Lake

The History of Runyan Lake, Livingston County, Fenton, Michigan

The area in which we are located was a historical marl mining area. Marl Lake is named because it was a site for mining marl, a type of clay, from the 1890s to 1930s. Aetna Portland Cement Co. and the Egyptian Portland Cement Co., both of Detroit, purchased property around Fenton and in 1900 began erecting factories. Aetna built its plant on the southwest shore of Lake Ponemah, then known as Mud Lake. The Egyptian Co. built its plant on the north shore of Silver Lake. They began manufacturing cement in 1902 and 1903 respectively. Egyptian closed its plant in 1920. Aetna closed theirs in 1936.

While there remains some mystery about the origin of Runyan Lake, maps dating back to the 1800’s clearly show Runyan Lake has existed for quite some time. The map below is from 1859, and while it lacks some measurement details, Runyan Lake, Hoisington Lake, and Bennet Lake are all present.

The map below, dated 1875, offers more dimensional accuracy and detail, showing not only Runyan Lake but also the large pond southwest of the lake. The island is clearly documented even at this time.


Map detail continued to improve as shown on the below 1895 version.

Many of us have questioned whether Runyan Lake is a natural lake, or whether it was created during the local area cement boom in the early 1900’s. As we have shown above, the lake clearly existed prior to the marl and clay mining activities came to our area. Many may even recall the historic cement factory along the railroad tracks between Silver Lake and Lake Ponehma (known historically as Mud Lake) before its demolition sometime around 2005. Historical records recently found bring light to the history of our area. The following is found in the book Lower Peninsula, 1900-1903, Volume 8, Parts 1-3:

Egyptian Portland Cement Co.

Organized June 30, 1900. Capital, $1,050,000, in $10

shares. Also bonds, $350,000. The officers are, George

A. Foster, president; J. Fletcher Williams, vice president

and general manager; C. B. Shotwell, secretary, and E.

D. Kennedy, treasurer.

The factories are at Fenton and Holly. Robert W. Hunt &

Co., are engineers and W. H. Hess, chemist.

We reprint many of the careful surveys which were made

of the company's lime lakes. One (Plate XXI) is of Silver

Lake, the Fenton property, and another, (Fig. 21) is

Raffelee Lake, the Holly property of the same company.

In Plate XXI the bluffs which mark the original margin of

the lake are shown as in Fig. 13, and if we compare the

outline of the lake with that shown in the county atlases

from the original land office surveys, we find it entirely

different. Apparently a good deal of this is due to the

filling up of the lake by the deposits of boglime, isolating

"daughter lakes," as Davis has described them, from

Littlefield Lake. It is possible, however, that a change of

lake level may also have been an important factor.

Finally, but not least important, the surveyors in

meandering these marsh bordered lakes, which are

often full of rushes, find it very difficult to determine

where marsh ends and lake begins. We also reproduce

reductions of careful surveys of Runyan Lake, Sections

9 and 10, T. 4 N., R. 6 E. (Fig. 22), and of Mud Lake, just

north of Silver (Fig. 23).

Also of lakes on sections 27, 28 and 30 and 29 of Holly

township (Figs. 24 and 25).

There is peat in connection with these deposits "partially

overlying and directly contiguous, which it has been

proposed to use as fuel, though it is not at present

seriously planned. The coal and very probably the shale

will come from the neighborhood of Corunna, The Grand

Trunk and the Pere Marquette system cross at Holly.

A resurvey after some years, of such of these properties

as may not have been seriously touched, will give

important light on the growth of the deposits. Extracts

from the prospectus, Robert W. Hunt & Co.'s report, are

as follows:

Report dated Jan. 30, 1900.

We beg to submit the following report in full on the

survey and investigation of the marl lands situated near

the cities of Fenton and Holly, Michigan.

The marl land surveyed and sampled consisted of four

separate deposits. The first and largest, is in the

southeast corner of Genesee County, two miles west of

the town of Fenton, and extends south into the northern

part of Livingston county (Plate XXI).

The second is in Oakland County, two miles east of

Fenton, and about midway between Fenton and Holly.

The third deposit is in and north of the town of Holly.

The fourth deposit is about two miles southeast of Holly

on Raffelee Lake (Fig. 21).

The first tract consists of Runyan Lake (Fig. 22), Marl

Lake, Upper and Lower Silver Lake, a part of Mud Lake

(Fig. 23), Squaw Lake, and the low swamp land

contiguous to these lakes, together with a strip of land in

the town of Fenton. As a rule the hills surrounding these

lakes are high and steep, and the slope of the marl

deposit is quite abrupt, which latter is also true of the

lake bottoms. Many bars of marl, covered with only a

few inches of water, extend into the lakes, but just off

these bars the water is deep.

The second tract (Fig. 24) consists of marsh land around

Warren Lake and several small ponds near by, Dickson

Lake and the two Mineral Lakes. The hills around these

are also high and steep and the shores are abrupt.

The third tract (Fig. 25) is in and around Bevin Lake and

Bush Lake. There are no hills around these lakes, and

the marl deposit is shelving, and the shores are not

abrupt. A large part of Bush Lake is only a few feet

deep. There is no tamarack or underbrush.

The fourth tract is along the south edge and west end of

Raffelee Lake, including the swamp lands just west and

northwest of Raffelee. Part of this swamp land is heavily

timbered, and the average stripping is about two feet.

The first tract is cut by three highways and the Detroit,

Grand Haven & Milwaukee railroad track, together with

the public road which lies between Silver and Mud

Lakes. Another road is just south of Silver Lake, and still

another south of Marl Lake.

There are no public highways crossing the second tract,

but the main highway between Fenton and Holly runs

very close to it.

Between Bevin and Bush Lakes are the tracks of the

Pere Marquette railroad, a public highway and some

meadow land.

The Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee railway runs

alongside of Raffelee Lake. There are no highways

crossing this tract, but it will probably be easy to secure

one on the section line.

Figure 25. Bush Lake, Sec. 27, T. 5 N., R. 7 E, and adjacent

marl beds nea Holly.

The maps which we send you will show the location of

these different tracts. There are eight detail maps, which

show all lands surveyed and sampled, except where the

results were not good enough to justify mapping the

properties out. These maps show location of property,

name of original owner, and location of test holes from

which marl samples were taken. The numbering of

these test holes is the same as the sample numbers in

the complete analysis.

In determining the extent of the deposits, about four

hundred additional test holes were sunk, from which no

samples were taken.

The following statement shows total acreage:

Considering the results obtained from the chemical

analysis of the marl, lots or deposits of marl have been

located wherein the marl, as shown by the analysis, is of

such composition as is required to make good cement.

The total amount of marl in the foregoing lots, upon

which we report favorably, is 14,350,720 cubic yards,

which is enough to manufacture about 28,700,000

barrels of cement.

The following tables show the maximum, minimum, and

average determination of the samples from the accepted

lots, together with the average depth of marl, quantity of

stripping, and quantity of marl in each lot.

The best locations for cement plants are upon the Grand

Trunk railway, between Silver and Mud Lakes at Fenton,

and upon the same road at Raffelee Lake, just east of

Holly. At the latter point the Pere Marquette system

would doubtless be glad to build a switch into the plant,

giving it the benefit of junction point rates, which could

probably be extended to include the Fenton plant as


From the chemical analysis of marl, its desirability for the

manufacture of cement is determined. The analysis also

gives data for determining the amount of clay that should

be mixed in order to give good results. A large

percentage of silica is not desirable, but four to five per

cent is not prohibitive, providing it does not vary to too

great an extent. The amount of iron and alumina oxide

that is detrimental depends upon the analysis of clay

with which the marl is to be mixed. The magnesium

carbonate should not be over four to five per cent, which,

of course, will be reduced in the finished cement

between two and three per cent.

If the amounts of silica, iron and alumina, and magnesia

in a body of marl are small, a comparatively large

variation in the calcium carbonate can be allowed,

because its percentage will vary almost directly as the

amount of organic matter.

We would respectfully recommend that all material

possible be conveyed by mechanical means, and that

the labor account be reduced as low as possible.

(Signed) ROBT. W. HUNT & CO.

Lansing, October 1, 1900.

Egyptian Portland Cement Company,

Detroit, Michigan.

Gentlemen—I beg leave to make the following report of

tests of cement made from clay and marl received from

you from Fenton, Michigan:



Very respectfully,

(Signed) R. E. DOOLITTLE,


Lansing, Michigan, Oct. 1, 1900.

Egyptian Portland Cement Company,

Detroit, Michigan.

Gentlemen—I have been investigating the peat question,

and submit for your information the following table:

In examining this table, note the column designated

"Calorific Intensity," and notice you can get as high heat

with peat as you can with bituminous coal, lacking 150

degrees Centigrade, and the conclusion is therefore

warranted that you can burn Portland cement with dried

peat as rotary fuel. It would not cost over twenty cents

per ton to prepare peat for rotary work, using waste heat

as a drier. The grinding would be very easy.

Yours truly,

(Signed) W. H. HESS,


Twentieth Century Portland Cement Company.

Organized March 2, 1901. Capital, $750,000.00. Office

at Fenton and plant about four miles from the village,

and stock said to be mainly held there. It is said that

marl options are held on Runyan Lake, mainly in Sec. 9

(see Fig. 23), and elsewhere, amounting to 526 acres,

and 9,500,000 cubic yards. This is not a very large

supply and so far as I know, this and the following

companies and locations referred to are not very near



So what is our history? In 1900, Runyan Lake was identified as a viable marl deposit, but had not yet been mined. Note the description from above of Runyan Lake at this time:

"The first tract consists of Runyan Lake (Fig. 22), Marl Lake, Upper and Lower Silver Lake, a part of Mud Lake (Fig. 23), Squaw Lake, and the low swamp land contiguous to these lakes, together with a strip of land in the town of Fenton. As a rule the hills surrounding these lakes are high and steep, and the slope of the marl deposit is quite abrupt, which latter is also true of the lake bottoms. Many bars of marl, covered with only a few inches of water, extend into the lakes, but just off these bars the water is deep."

This describes the characteristics of Runyan Lake today, and correlates with the Runyan Lake depth analysis shown in Figure 22 from 1900 above. A map of Runyan Lake from 1915 shows the lake size unaltered from the 1895 map. Note the land ownership in the current Runyan Lake Point area – Logan Cement Company.


This entry was also posted, noting available resources after 1901 not yet mined.

Twentieth Century Portland Cement Company.

Organized March 2, 1901. Capital, $750,000.00. Office

at Fenton and plant about four miles from the village,

and stock said to be mainly held there. It is said that

marl options are held on Runyan Lake, mainly in Sec. 9.

Fast forward to 1965, below, and Runyan Lake remains as it appeared in the 1900 time frame.


By now the subdivisions of Runyan Lake Heights (1928 and 1929) and Runyan Lake Point (1932) have been platted, and Runyan Lake Cove (1960) has been connected to Runyan Lake. But the physical size of the lake is unaltered, and the descriptions of extended marl deposits in shallow water giving way to a deep lake bottom are consistent with our present lake condition. The island is included in the 1859 map so it was not created by a mining operation. There is no historical evidence of the railroad expansion to Runyan Lake mentioned in the prospectus report.

Conclusion: Based on all the historical evidence referenced above, Runyan Lake is a natural lake, created as a result of the hills and valleys in the immediate area formed by glaciers, and while containing a respectable marl deposit, was never mined as proposed in 1900 due to limited access and the small amount of marl available. The proposed railroad spur to connect Runyan Lake to the then existing railroad to transport extracted marl was never constructed. The lake today is largely as it was in 1859, the earliest survey record found of our lake.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Terri Medor, Tyrone Township Deputy Clerk, and Mark Meisel, a Runyan Lake resident, for their research and contributions to result in the location of historical records for Runyan Lake. This effort all started as a result of curiosity about a plaque found imbedded into a tree on the shore of Runyan Lake (below). As it turns out, THE MASSILLON BRIDGE CO was a builder of concrete bridges in Michigan and Ohio in the 1800s, and appeared to be securing marl reserves for the concrete they needed to build their bridges. Property around Runyan Lake was claimed for that purpose.



(Note – Plaque has a typo! McDormley should be McGormley)


Lower Peninsula, 1900-1903, Volume 8, Parts 1-3

By Michigan. Geological Survey











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Runyan Lake Inc.

PO Box 105

 Fenton, MI  48430-0105, USA

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