Leclaire Lake (1906)
Consisting of only a little over five acres, Leclaire Lake Park is one of Edwardsville’s oldest and most beautiful parks. When first created, the lake served a dual purpose by providing a water source for the Nelson Factory Complex in addition to recreation for Leclaire residents and visitors. The grounds around the lake quickly developed with a pavilion for band concerts and boat houses to hold skiffs. Bath houses were built and there was even a diving plank across the water. The grounds were well groomed with trees for shade and numerous flower beds maintained by the Nelson Company.
When Leclaire Lake Park was donated to the City of Edwardsville in 1934 (after Leclaire’s annexation) the city had a policy of not maintaining bodies of water. However, Leclaire Lake was a favorite place, not just for Leclaire residents, but for all of Edwardsville. Popular demand saved the lake from being filled in.
The Lake has undergone at least two full renovations, the first, during the Great Depression, was done by WPA workers. At that time the lake was drained and dredged to make it deeper. A sand “beach” was created and a wall built around the entire lake to help prevent erosion.
The second complete dredging took place in 2006 with the City of Edwardsville approving a $173,000 contract to remove sediment from the lake's bottom. The lake had been experiencing major problems for several years. The bank had suffered erosion and siltation over the previous 70 years resulting in shallow water. The water was so shallow that a person could wade across the entire lake from bank to bank. Approximately 18,000 cubic yards of sediment had drained into the lake. In the early years it was estimated the lake average 8-12 feet in depth and by 2006 was only 2 to 4 feet in depth. The much needed project improved the water and overall quality of the area.