Lake Petersburg, Illinois, USA

Also known as:  Petersburg Lake, Petersburg Reservoir

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

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Lake Petersburg visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Illinois - Central -

Something in human nature seems to require a water body to feel complete: Lake Petersburg fills that need. The people of Petersburg on the border between Illinois’ Central and Western Regions felt the lack and created a lake. Lovely Lake Petersburg was created two miles south of the town of Petersburg in 1963 to provide a home for lake lovers in the area. Completed without financial assistance from either State or Federal government, Lake Petersburg is wholly-owned by the Lake Petersburg Association of property owners for their enjoyment. Nearly 200 acres of water provide recreation, fishing and waterfront enjoyment for those that have built homes and cottages along the water’s edge.

Petersburg lies in prairie lands dotted with corn and soybean fields. Here in the nation’s breadbasket, families remain in the same area for generations. This is the land that produced Abraham Lincoln. It does not produce lakes, however. Water here is always on the move, just passing through, in the creeks and rivers that drain the prairie. Perhaps that’s why the city fathers were so immediately enthusiastic when the idea was proposed to build a reservoir to attract new housing development. The idea quickly took root and grew rapidly: within five years, the property had been obtained, the dam across an intermittent tributary stream finished, fish stocked and lots starting to sell. Land was leased at the west end of the lake for a golf course. Homes were built, building covenants were drawn up and a lake community was born. Lake Petersburg became a vital part of the central Illinois geography.

Lake Petersburg portrays perfectly the benefits of a carefully-planned lake community. All housing is connected to public sewer. City water is purchased from the town of Petersburg. Boat houses and boat docks meet regulated requirements and wetland areas along the many coves and inlets are protected. Waterfowl and wetland flora and fauna call the shoreline home. Only property owners and their guests are permitted use of the lake. An all-sports lake, all types of watercraft except jet skis are permitted, although reasonable size restrictions are in place. The lake is used for sailing, water skiing, tubing, wind-surfing, canoeing, kayaking, pontooning and swimming. Scuba diving is permitted in designated areas. Fishing is a favored pastime, with black bullhead, sauger, black crappie, bluegill, white crappie, carp, yellow perch, channel catfish,flathead catfish, green sunfish, largemouth bass and redear sunfish all caught. State of Illinois fishing regulations apply. There is no public access and anyone using the lake must have a permit issued to the property owner. The American Legion has built a meeting facility on the lake that is used for community meetings and events. The Association plans occasional family activities and orchestrates a July 4th fireworks display over the water each year. Lake Petersburg is a great place to live.

Lake Petersburg is not the only attraction found in the area: just south of the lake, Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site is a reconstruction of the village where Abraham Lincoln spent his early adulthood. Besides camping and nature trails there are historic building reproductions,where craftsmen recreate early village life. A Chautauqua series of performances and Theatre in the Park portray the type of mid 19th century daily life and community entertainment a young Lincoln might have experienced. Check the website for schedules and performance information.

Only 20 miles to the southeast, the Illinois capital of Springfield offers the big-city attractions and opportunities missing at the quiet country lake. Springfield is well-supplied with shopping, arts and entertainment facilities. The Route 66 “Mother Road” is celebrated here with several preserved facilities as would have been common on a 1950s road trip. Here you can visit a gas station museum with it’s full-service charm, antique fixtures and the necessary accessories to accomplish road travel before the era of the interstate highway. Be sure to drop in at the diner and get a hot-dog-on-a-stick. Springfield even has a twin-screen drive-in theater to complete a nostalgic day. Springfield is well-supplied with museums to suit every interest, starting with the Illinois State Museum’s archaeological finds, including dinosaur bones. A Fire Museum exhibits antique fire fighting equipment, including a horse-drawn, hand-pumping water tanker. There is even a Museum of Funeral Customs! And, of course, the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. There are many fine tours of historic buildings and even a walking tour commemorating the 1908 race riot that resulted in the deaths of seven persons.

A favorite attraction for the entire family is an action park with two golf courses, batting cages, go-kart track, kiddie rides, 1930s Ferris wheel and water park. Hoagland Center For The Arts offers a full schedule of performances of interest to adults. And the entire family can enjoy the activities surrounding Lake Springfield, a 4200-acre municipal reservoir with eight public parks, Henson Robinson Zoo, Lincoln Memorial Garden, swimming, fishing, boating and golf. Springfield has a full compliment of choices in restaurants, nightlife and lodgings for your Central Illinois vacation.

Vacation rentals at Lake Petersburg may be difficult to find, at least right on the lakefront. Occasionally, private rentals are available in the surrounding area, often as bed-and-breakfasts. And commercial-type lodgings are found in the larger cities in the area. Real estate is often listed for sale around Lake Petersburg, many times with lake frontage. A spot on Lake Petersburg may be just what you’ve been searching for. But you’ll never know until you visit here. Come and see if Lake Peterson holds a home for you.

Custom Lake Petersburg house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Petersburg

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Tubing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Museum
  • Drive-in Theater
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Petersburg

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Bullhead
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sauger
  • Sunfish
  • White Crappie
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Petersburg

The Lake Petersburg map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Lake Petersburg photo gallery

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Lake Petersburg statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Lake Petersburg Association

Surface Area: 191 acres

Shoreline Length: 15 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 581 feet

Average Depth: 24 feet

Maximum Depth: 65 feet

Water Volume: 4,310 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1963

Water Residence Time: 3.9 yrs

Drainage Area: 2 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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