A muddy Goshen Trail ford across the Kaskaskia River ultimately led to the forward-thinking city of Carlyle, population 3,189, about 33 miles east of Scott AFB and 50 miles from St. Louis in Clinton County. Around 1812 the first settler, John Hill, built himself a block house along the trail close to the ford and started a ferry service, and by 1837 enough people had joined him to make up a village. In 1859, the General Dean Suspension Bridge spanning the river went into service and carried traffic for the next 70 years, the only such bridge in Illinois and now a historic site.
A dam across the Kaskaskia northeast of town formed Carlyle Lake, the biggest man-made lake in the state and a recreational mother lode. The area supports hunting (waterfowl, white-tailed deer, rabbits, turkeys, squirrels, quail and doves); bird-watching; fishing (32 species of freshwater fish including largemouth bass and channel and flathead catfish); 18 holes of championship golf at the Governor’s Run Golf Course; four beaches; camping; boating and sailing; biking and hiking; and recreation areas. The lake draws more than 2.5 million visitors a year.
Carlisle works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain more than 20 miles of trails looping through the city and to the lake. In addition, the city supports sports and camps for kids, a fish hatchery and five city parks that include a pool, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, a dog park, a disc golf course, a fishing pond and fully equipped playgrounds.
Each year in November, Carlyle City Park glitters with thousands of lights to celebrate Christmas in Carlyle, followed in early December by the Christmas parade and fireworks. Among other festivals and events are July’s Great Kaskaskia Duck River Race, benefitting the Healthcare Foundation; the Fourth of July Dam Jam, a day of live music, sand castle competitions and fireworks; February’s Polar Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics; and the IHSA Bass Tournament for students in May.
East-west U.S. Route 50 and north-south state Route 127 intersect in the heart of the city, and Carlyle has easy access to three interstates: Interstate 70 north of the city, Interstate 64 south of the city and Interstate 57 east of the city.
Housing is plentiful and affordable, crime is low and children can attend Carlyle Community Unit School District No. 1’s public schools.
Go to www.carlylelake.com or call 618-594-2468 for more information.