Description - *This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*
Archeological evidence for both the Old Woodland and Paleolithic Native American cultures has been uncovered at the site. The Paleo people lived in small, temporary camps and were known as big game hunters. The Woodland culture left more evidence, since it was agricultural and is known for large settlements. By the early 1800s, there were no Native American settlements in the immediate area.
When Illinois was admitted to the Union in 1818, the Federal government gave Illinois three saline lands. One of them, located less than a mile southwest of the park, was leased to Dr. Conrad Will, who served in both the Illinois House and Senate in the early days of statehood. Dr. Will operated a salt works at the site, and the town of Brownsville grew up around it. The salt works closed in 1840, and all that remains of the town is the cemetery.
Although the State of Illinois did not purchase the 1,022 acres that would become Lake Murphysboro State Park until 1948, interest in the area as a public recreational park began in the 1930s. Originally developed by the State’s Division of Fisheries, Lake Murphysboro State Park was transferred to the Division of Parks and Memorials in 1955. Today, the park is maintained by the Department of Natural Resources.
Built in 1950 by the Division of Fisheries, the 145-acre lake is a tributary of Indian Creek and has a watershed of approximately 4,500 acres. The maximum water depth is 36 feet, and the lake’s 7.5 miles of shoreline are made up of rolling hills covered with a wide variety of trees. A 600-foot dam is located at the south end of the park. A smaller lake, appropriately called Little Lake, is located just north of Lake Murphysboro.
Soon after its completion, Lake Murphysboro was stocked with breeder-size and yearling-size largemouth bass. In the fall of 1951, redear sunfish were introduced, followed by bluegill the next spring. Channel catfish are also frequently stocked. To maintain a healthy fish population, submerged vegetation and water draw-downs are used to keep the number of small panfish down.
- Natural Features-
Patches of native wild orchids may be found in the wooded areas of the park. Yellow lady’s slipper, showy, purple fringeless, twayblade, puttyroot, coralroot and ladies’ tresses are just some of the varieties to watch for. The variety of orchids makes it possible to find blooming plants throughout the year.
The wooded hills include groves of majestic oak and hickory trees, as well as most other types of trees.
Well-equipped campsites located in scenic areas of the park provide the perfect opportunity to extend your stay at Lake Murphysboro. Campers who want to truly experience nature will appreciate the 20 tent sites.
Those who love nature, but like the comfort of home, will prefer the 54 trailer sites that are equipped with electricity.Three Class A handicapped sites and one Class B/S handicapped site are available. A sanitary disposal station is located near the trailer area. All campers must obtain a permit from the site superintendent.
A three-mile designated trail offers hikers the opportunity to enjoy the plant, animal and bird life of the park up close. For those who prefer to explore nature on their own, several paths criss-cross through the hills and woods of the park.
Recreation - Archery-
An archery range is located in the northwest section of the park.
Whether you visit Lake Murphysboro State Park to fish, hike or especially for a picnic, you will enjoy the shaded picnic areas located in convenient locations around the lake.
For larger groups there are two shelter houses, one with drinking water and playground equipment. Parking areas are available at both shelters. Handicapped-accessible toilet facilities are located in the concession area and in the Big Oak and Water Lily camping areas. ADA restrooms are available at both shelters.
Fishing and Boating-
With its gentle hills and shady shores, Lake Murphysboro is a popular retreat for bank fishing. No matter what form of fishing one prefers, anglers will appreciate the variety of fish available: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish and crappie.
A fishing pier with facilities for the handicapped is available, and there’s a handicapped-accessible boat transfer station.
Boaters can bring their own boat or rent one near the boat launch. The outboard motor limit is 10 H.P.
Bank and boat fishing are also available on Little Lake, but no motors are allowed.
Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.
Lake Murphysboro State Park is located in Jackson County on the north side of Rt. 149, approximately 2 miles west of Murphysboro. From Rt. 13, 127, and 149 junction, take Rt. 149 west 2 miles to the entrance of Lake Murphysboro State Park/Kinkaid Lake. From Rt. 3, take 149 east approximately 5 miles to the entrance of Lake Murphysboro State Park/Kinkaid Lake.