Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. ~Wallace Stevens, American poet
For this year’s trek, I traveled to Lake Shelbyville, a reservoir located in Central Illinois formed by damming the Kaskaskia River. Some $57 million was set aside (a hefty chunk of change back in 1963!) for the project, which was dedicated in 1970.
Managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Lake offers 11,000 acres of surface waters, 172 miles of shoreline, and 23,000 acres of surrounding public lands dedicated as state parks. More than 4 million visitors a year come here to swim, fish, boat, hike, camp, picnic, or sight-see.
What are we waiting for? Let’s start walking!
Obviously, we’re not going to walk all 172 miles. Let’s compromise by strolling along the 7-mile General Dacey Trail (named for the project’s former resident engineer). We’ll begin at the visitor’s center to secure maps and pamphlets:
Let’s go outside and see if we can find something interesting. I saw an indoor butterfly house, but sadly, no butterflies (probably the wrong time of year); some dying sedum and black-eyed susan; and some still-pretty purple flowers. Oh, and look at these colorful painted rocks:
Wait, there’s something cheery and yellow — a gourd, I believe:
Okay, no more dawdling. The temperature is in the low 50s, and there’s a stiffer wind than I like, so we’ll pick up the pace. Here’s a shot of the lake itself; notice our nicely-chipped walkway on the left:
Trees here are behind schedule in donning their red, yellow, and orange dresses. As you can see from those in the cemetery across the road, they’re mostly still green:
Now let’s cross over to the dam. We haven’t had too much water here, so only one spout is open. We’re 110 feet above the stream bed, if you’re curious. Oh, and use the stairs — don’t even try going down that slick concrete:
The spillway is popular with folks who fish. One fella I talked to said he hoped to catch catfish, bluegill, or mullet; two more men were floating along in a boat with their lines extended:
Here’s one of several sandy beaches. A host of birds flies up to greet us, yelling over the distance:
Lake Shelbyville provides flood control for the Kaskaskia and Mississippi rivers, fish and wildlife conservation, and water supply and water quality control:
We could walk for days and not see everything! Why not plan a trip for yourself: