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The lakes of Coles County: By the numbers
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OUR PLACES
OUR LAKES: BY THE NUMBERS

The lakes of Coles County: By the numbers

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MATTOON — Lake Paradise, Lake Mattoon and Lake Charleston are three important features for both fresh water and recreation in our region. They also tell the region's rich history, from prairies to railroads to World War II. 

1907

Year that the future Lake Paradise was formed on the Little Wabash River southwest of Mattoon as a reliable water supply to the city and its growing railroad industry. The spillway was raised in 1914 and 1922 to meet demand. 

210 

SECONDARY

The Lake Paradise spillway is shown in 1987.

Acres of lake's surface area. It was purchased by the city in the 1930s and a second dam was built. Cottages were later built. 

11,500

Acres of Lake Paradise Watershed, which includes a small portion of Moultrie and Shelby counties, according to an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency report. It would remain the city's only source of drinking water 

SECONDARY

The beach at Lake Mattoon is shown.

1958

Year new reservoir was constructed south of the lake. The project solved problems that dated back more than a decade. "After World War II, the city of Mattoon began to attract industry and its population grew until Lake Paradise was unable to meet the area’s water demands, especially during periods of low rainfalls," the state EPA report said. "The drought of the mid-1950s depleted the lake and led to concerns regarding the adequacy of the city’s water supply."

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Counties that are part of Lake Mattoon — Coles, Cumberland and Shelby — 12 miles southwest of Mattoon.  

SECONDARY

The Lake Mattoon Marina is located at the west end of the causeway where Cumberland County plans to replace a bridge next year.

1,705

Acre-feet of Lake Mattoon that was lost between 1958 and 2001 because of sedimentation, according to the Illinois State Water Survey. Sedimentation has been an ongoing issue for both Mattoon lakes. 

SECONDARY

Lake Mattoon is shown in 1958.

330 

Surface acres of Lake Charleston, which has a maximum depth of 12 feet. Charleston Side Channel Lake is about three miles southeast of Charleston and the Charleston Lower Channel Lake is the impounded Embarras River, serving as the primary water supply for Charleston. 

CLIP 1

A May 1932 clip from the Journal Gazette is shown.

Years that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources conducts a survey of the fish population in Lake Charleston. Crappie, channel catfish and common carp were the most common on the latest survey. 

Sources: City of Mattoon and Charleston, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Lakes Program study.


LOOK BACK: Lake Paradise

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