Long Lake

So named for its winding course through the floodplain, Long Lake is one of the few perennial lakes to remain after large-scale drainage erased much of the lacustrine habitat of the bottoms. Beginning at a point on the far north end of Chouteau township (not far from the present-day confluence), Long Lake was for much of its existence more of a large slough connected to the Mississippi River during high-water stages, holding and carrying river water south through the better part of two townships before finding an outlet in Cahokia Creek some 20 miles away. While the lake was effectively cut off from its source by the construction of levees, the lake still wends its way through the bottoms and has given rise to specific suburban development patterns that seek to capitalize on lakefront property. Curving roads with names like Lakeview, Lakeside, and Lake Drive give communities like Pontoon Beach, Illinois, a distinctly recreational air. With boats and docks being replaced by aboveground pools here, the lake is perhaps seen as less of an asset as it once was—with neighboring industries contributing to a rather toxic lacustrine environment.