A lake is a body of water, but it can also be the place of community. During the 1930s, a small creek in central Illinois was dammed and flooded to provide water and power to a growing nearby city.
The place was already rich with history, dotted with 10,000 years of archaeological remains, crossed by a 300-year French colonial road, and the encompassing farms and small towns frequented by a young Abraham Lincoln.
The vision for Lake Springfield included much more than a source of drinking water and power for the city of Springfield. During a nationwide depression, city planners and engineers thoughtfully created a unique municipal, recreational, and residential community along the new shores. Parks, beach houses, numerous organizational clubs, scouting camps for children, a memorial garden, a nature preserve, an outdoor theater, and even a public zoo soon skirted the 4000-acre lake.
Now, eighty-five years after its construction, Lake Springfield is a community with its own rich history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Robert Mazrim has worked in Midwestern archaeology and history for thirty years. He currently serves as Associate Scientist Historic Resources Archaeologist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, and is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Colonial and American Studies. Mazrim is the author of six books and numerous journal articles concerning the archaeology and history of the Midwest.
Curtis Mann is the manager of the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library, the Public Library of Springfield, Illinois. Mann graduated from Southern Illinois University with a B.A. in History and the University of Illinois with a M.S. in Library and Information Science. He has co-authored ten pictorial books about the history of Springfield.