Carlyle Lake Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Lake Brings 2.5-Million Visitors and $80-Billion in Visitor Spending Within 30 Mile Radius
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The daughter of the late Eldon Hazlet, Cindy Dooling, shares her memory of her dad's push to make Carlyle Lake a reality in the 1950's.
Photo by Pat Hodges

Large crowds attended the Carlyle Lake 50th Anniversary Celebration over the weekend.

Colonel Anthony Mitchell of the St. Louis District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told those attending the Commemoration Ceremony to marvel at the past, smile for the future and celebrate the remarkable achievement of creating the 15 mile long and 3 1/2 mile wide lake. He cited its benefits to the region.

"2.5-million visitors per year with $80-billion in visitor spending within 30 miles of the project, stimulating the economy and growing our community, said Mitchell. "Almost a billion dollars in flood control damages prevented in the past ten years alone. Water supply that serves over 100,000 people. Conservation practices that protect our natural resources."

The idea of creating Carlyle Lake to tame the Kaskaskia River was first thought about in 1933, but the idea gained traction after World War II when attorney Eldon Hazlet moved to Carlyle and pushed relentlessly for support and then funding for the project. Groundbreaking took place in October 1958, with the gate closing ceremony on April 1st, 1967.

But his daughter Cindy Dooling said her father died from cancer a year before the completion.

"He was obsessed with this project. A man with a purpose. He knew that in addition to flood control and ease of navigation through the Kaskaskia River, the recreational benefits for fishing, boating, hunting, swimming, and camping would make this area the ultimate in water recreation," said Dooling. "Dad and mom had a vision for a bright future for Carlyle, Clinton County, and Illinois."

The state park on Carlyle Lake is named in Hazlet's memory.

The weekend event featured the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall and numerous musical groups and educational programs.

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