Like many other such areas, the Eagle Creek/Wolf Creek sites are perfect examples of the potential benefits of natural resource management. As a means of flood control, water supply and downstream water quality control, the Flood Control Act of 1958 authorized the Shelbyville Reservoir Project, which involved construction of a dam and creation of a lake. These practical necessities, however, also would allow for the actual conservation of fish and wildlife and the development of areas for exciting and varied recreational opportunities.
It was, of course, a monumental undertaking. Before work on the dam at Shelbyville could begin, several old mines had to be completely filled in, cemeteries in the path of the planned lake had to be relocated, two gas and oil pipelines and roads rerouted, the old Shelby Power Plant demolished and land cleared and leveled on the west side of the channel which hugs the bluff to the east of the river bottom. Construction of this $56 million project began in May of 1963.
The dam is an earthen embankment towering 110 feet above the original stream bed. It’s 3,025 feet long with a reinforced concrete, gate-controlled spillway to manipulate the water level and manage the 25,300 acres of its flood control pool.
Most of this work was done by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and since 1968 the land has been managed by the State of Illinois on a long-term lease from the federal government. By 1972, the area offered the public providing primitive camping facilities. In the years since then, the State has purchased surrounding lands and made extensive campground, boat launch, day-use area and hiking trails improvements making this a beautiful, well-tended and well-managed natural retreat.