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Lake Decatur

The 'Frozen Trojans' of Maroa-Forsyth High School run out of the cold water of Lake Decatur during the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge in March. 

Editor's note: The Herald & Review each day is listing a reason the Decatur region is loved. We're profiling people, places and history that are special to our region — and that make it a great place to live. See more here

Since its construction in the 1920s as a water source for the city's growing industry, Lake Decatur has become a prime location for fishing, sailing and other opportunities for fun along the shoreline. 

Spanning 2,800 acres, the Illinois Office of Tourism said Lake Decatur is the state's largest artificial body of water. Areas like Lake Shore Drive and the Nelson Park marina are perfect spots to view the lake's shimmering waters at both day and night.

Nelson Park visitors can also catch glimpse of the lake by visiting the Beach House Restaurant, or by stopping by the brand new 9/11 memorial. In addition to the sights, special events like the Shoreline Classic, the Polar Plunge and the Rodney T. Miller Lakeside Triathlon have brought in big crowds over the years. 

In 2012, the lake was threatened with a historic and severe water shortage, which could have devastated the region if conditions didn't improve. 

“There was a little bit of a feeling of helplessness and things being out of your control,” former City Manager Ryan McCrady told the Herald & Review in August. 

To combat the issue, city officials implemented a multi-year, $91 million dredging project. Seven years later, McCrady said that Decatur is now equipped to handle any future droughts with "plans as opposed to panic."

jcook@herald-review.com | (217) 421-7980

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Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for the Herald & Review.

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