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Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk, located southwest of Peoria, Illinois, is a shining example of thoughtful land restoration. The 154-acre lake is part of an upscale residential development containing more than 40 lakes in Illinois' Western tourism region.
Fulton County, Illinois, home of Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk, lies between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Native Americans raised corn on the rich bottomlands as far back as 700 years ago. Early European trappers hunted beaver in the tributaries and eventually built cabins, dammed streams and built mills. Progress conquered the vast wetlands, tamed the seasonal floods, and eventually began to mine the area for the coal needed in a growing industrial age. By 1920, mining for coal had begun, stripping the topsoil off the rolling hills. Due to the area's high water table, the mined pits began to fill with water. The pond that became Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk was enlarged by damming Putt Creek for coal sluicing. Harold Truax, partner in the Truax-Traer Mining Company, felt a responsibility to restore the land. By 1935, he was stocking the ponds with bass and leveling the landscape. His son, Glenn Truax, developed the lakes he called Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills, meaning "Land of Many Lakes" or "Lake in the Hills."
Today, Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills contains 42 lakes. Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk is the largest at 154 acres; many other lakes are less than 20 acres. The country club was one of the first building projects in the new development, complete with a 9-hole golf course. The clubhouse, built in 1956, overlooked the swimming beach. The richly-appointed bar and dining room provided the venue for bands, parties and club member events. Lots were platted and sold and building began. Properties are spacious, allowing for privacy and large lawns. The development has been expanded to include an 18-hole golf course and a swimming pool. A tobogganing run, ice skating area and snowmobile trail are provided for residents. The old earthen dam was replaced with a modern structure for safety, and an overflow retention pond added to alleviate flooding in rainy years. Each homeowner pays a minimal amount for dam maintenance to the We-Ma-Tuk Hills Drainage District annually.
Fishing at Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk is excellent with catches of yellow bass, warmouth, green sunfish, flathead catfish, redear sunfish, bluegill, black crappie, white crappie, muskellunge, largemouth bass, channel catfish and walleye. The original bass fishery begun in 1935 is still healthy and is supplemented by regular fish stocking by the Wee-Ma-Tuk Landowners Association. Recent water testing shows the water to be of above-average quality, and association members remain continually vigilant to maintain water quality. All types of water craft are allowed on Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk, except for houseboats and those with cabins. Motors must be less than 125 horsepower. Boats up to 18 feet and pontoons up to 24 feet are allowed. The speed limit is 40 miles per hour. All boats must have a current sticker from the Association. No wake zones are marked. Water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, pontooning and power boating are favorites. The many coves and arms are a joy to explore via canoe or kayak. All other lakes in the Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills development are limited to trolling motors only. There is no public access.
Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk is removed from busy city traffic. The closest Interstate highway passes through Peoria 20 miles to the northeast. The location hardly forces isolation, however. The small city of Canton is less than five miles from Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills. This city of 15,000 offers daily shopping, arts and crafts galleries, restaurants and public parks, including one on Canton Lake. Other park amenities include multiple baseball fields and softball fields, tennis courts and basketball courts, disc golf, playgrounds, a swim facility and a designated SCUBA diving lake. Peoria offers 'big-city' shopping, a variety of arts venues, and historical buildings and museums. The Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive begins in London Mills, approximately 18 miles north of Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk, and winds through picturesque villages along the Spoon River. The Spoon River Fall Festival brings many visitors each autumn to follow the scenic drive where they will be met by guides dressed in period costumes who demonstrate 19th century skills and crafts. Twenty miles south of Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk, Dickson Mounds Museum, a National Historic Site and branch of the Illinois State Museum, is a major on-site archaeological museum. It offers a unique opportunity to explore the world of tNative Americans in an inspiring journey through 12,000 years of history in the Illinois River Valley. Nearby in Bryant, the Fulton County Playhouse produces performances in a converted barn. The non-profit Playhouse is dedicated to providing theatrical experience to locals while offering entertainment to area visitors.
Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk real estate is available both lakefront and on the golf course. Some golf course villas are available as overnight rentals. Private residences are occasionally offered as vacation rentals on a weekly or monthly basis. Come explore this unique lakefront community. Wouldn't you like to live here, too?
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