Lake Carlinville, Illinois, USA

Also known as:  Carlinville Lake, Lake 1 and Lake 2

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Carlinville.

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Lake Carlinville visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Illinois - Central -

Located in the Central region of Illinois, Lake Carlinville (also known as Carlinville Lake) is a 355-acre lake used for drinking water and recreation for the City of Carlinville and the surrounding area. Built in 1939 the lake was the only lake in the area supplying water to the City of Carlinville until 1980 when the city purchased Loveless Lake and renamed it to Carlinville Lake 2. Lake 2 is a 350-acre lake that is considered more of a wilderness lake with no public access except for one dirt road. Only boats with trolling motors are allowed on Lake 2, whereas other motor boats are welcome on Lake Carlinvlle 1. Lake Carlinville Dam, which was constructed in 1939, now supplies drinking water to both the City of Carlinville and Lake Williamson, a small 5-acre private lake. Situated in Macoupin County, Lake 1 has one stream (Honey Creek) that feeds into it.

Activities at Lake Carlinville include boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, camping, and swimming. There are campgrounds on the lake that offer campsites for RV and tent camping, playgrounds, beaches, restrooms, shower houses, and picnic sites. Anglers should expect to catch crappie, blue catfish, channel catfish, and bluegill. Both Lake Carlinville and the smaller Lake Williamson are considered good fishing lakes from spring through fall.

For a day off the lake, head to the City of Carlinville just four miles north of Lake Carlinville. With a large part of its downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Carlinville is a great place to see what America looked like in the mid 1800’s. Besides the Loomis House, an historic hotel built in 1870, Carlinville has the largest single collection of Sears Homes (Standard Addition) in the U.S. When Standard Oil moved into the area causing the population to grow faster than houses could be built, the problem was solved with the construction of home kits that sold in eight different models ranging from $3,000-$4,000. Today 152 of the original 156 homes still exist.

Other sites near Lake Carlinville include the Maucopin County Jail, Maucopin County War Memorial, Beaver Dam State Park, and Loveless Park. Constructed in 1869, the County Jail was used as recently as 1988 with inmates still sleeping in the original cell block. The jail is now available for tours. Standing in the Maucopin County Courthouse grounds is the War Memorial, which was constructed to honor those who served in World War I and II, and the Korean war. Located seven miles southwest of Carlinville is Beaver Dam State Park known for its variety of wildlife. Activities at the park include fishing, picnicking, hiking, camping, archery, hunting, boating, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, and snowmobiling. Hang out for the day on land or water to see the deer, fox, raccoons, wild turkeys, hawks, owls, woodpeckers, and cuckoos as they strut their stuff. Loveless Park offers multi-sport facilities such as soccer fields, baseball and softball diamonds, basketball courts, batting cages, a fitness trail, playground, and picnic pavilion.

Real estate is available around Lake Carlinville and the surrounding area for those wishing to make Central Illinois their permanent or weekend getaway home. Lodging and rentals are available in the City of Carlinville as well as at campgrounds and state parks if roughing it is more your style. Head to Maucopin County and Lake Carlinville for a vacation at a beautiful lake near a quaint city of the past.

Custom Lake Carlinville house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Carlinville

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Carlinville

  • Blue Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Sunfish

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Carlinville

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Lake Carlinville photo gallery

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Lake Carlinville statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Carlinville

Surface Area: 355 acres

Shoreline Length: 5 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 594 feet

Average Depth: 8 feet

Maximum Depth: 19 feet

Water Volume: 2,110 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1939

Drainage Area: 25 sq. miles

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