Apple Island


Apple Island, officially known as Marjorie Ward Strong Woodland Sanctuary, is a 37-acre island in the center of Orchard Lake. It is currently uninhabited by people and is kept as a nature preserve with several archaeological sites by West Bloomfield School District. The public can visit the island during the annual Apple Island Tours. Group tours are also available.

The island is three-eighths of a mile in length and a quarter of a mile wide, with a perimeter of more than a mile of lake frontage. Its highest point (960 ft. elevation) lies approximately 31 feet above the normal elevation of Orchard Lake. The island (and its characteristic resources of soil groups, shore edges, oak forest stands, bogs and topography) is unique in that it contains examples of every type of ecological system identified within the southeastern Michigan region. It is home to more than 400 species of trees and plants, including many rare in Oakland County. A detailed account of the island’s flora can be found in Apple Island: The Marjorie Ward Strong Woodland Sanctuary, which is available from the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society.

National Register of Historic Places

In 2018, the National Parks Service approved Apple Island as a historic site with archaeological significance with its listing in the National Register of Historic Places. A boulder monument with a commemorative plaque has been installed on Apple Island.

On June 7, 2019, the community celebrated Apple Island and its addition to the National Register of Historic Places.

Approved application for National Register of Historic Places – approved June 5, 2018

WBSD press release for June 2019 Apple Island celebration event

Apple Island Celebration Program June 7, 2019

Apple Island as an Educational Resource

General Frederick S. Strong and Michigan Governor William Millikin

General Frederick S. Strong and Michigan Governor William Millikin during the ceremony presenting Apple Island to the West Bloomfield School District (1970).

Apple Island was dedicated as Marjorie Ward Strong Woodland Sanctuary on October 11, 1970. The proclamation made that day was:

This historic island is given to the West Bloomfield School District in memory of Marjorie Ward Strong, its principal owner and faithful conservator for half a century, whose last request was that it be preserved in its natural state as a permanent woodland sanctuary, that the children of this favored land of lakes and forest may, as young students, learn to cherish, understand, and guard the priceless gifts of nature.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the gift of the island, this video was made to highlight how valuable the island continues to be as an educational resource to the students of West Bloomfield School District.

History of Apple Island

The island has a rich history, from its formation during the recession of the region’s last ice-age glacier to the presence of Native Americans to the inhabitation of various vacationers who eventually owned the island.

Archaeology on Apple Island

Apple Island has been the subject of many archaeological research projects, from uncovering evidence of possible Native American inhabitation to learning more about how 19th and 20th century vacationers lived on the island.

Visiting the Island

Apple Island Tours is an event offered annually during the 2nd weekend in June. Group tours of the island are also available.

Education Resources

Apple Island Artifact Notebook (click here to download PDF)
Apple Island Explorer’s Journal (click here to download PDF)