Lake Carroll History

In the beginning, there was a dream. And champagne. And a boat on a pole. And of course, custom printed coloring books for the kids. Some things have changed and some have stayed the same but Fawnridge Realty knows that Lake Carroll has always been "The Great Escape."

Before it was a body of water, Lake Carroll was a collection of forest tracts and farmland near Lanark, IL. Then the owners of Russwood of Illinois, a division of a North Carolina company founded to create four-season recreational communities across the country, saw a different potential. In 1971, they announced plans to build a private community around a manmade lake, complete with a ski slope, golf course and a host of other recreational facilities. By the next February, they were selling lots.

Many potential buyers came from the Chicago area, having seen billboards or received mailers advertising “The Great Escape.” There was also a promotional video:

Since there was no lake yet (the developers would have to finish damming the East Plum River before that would happen) the developer’s agents would point to a 16 foot fishing boat mounted on a pole dozens of feet high and tell them that was where the water level would be. Families were often ready to buy and build just based on the natural beauty of the area. They were served champagne and a delicious supper at a barn the sales team had turned into offices, and many returned home dreaming of their new lake house. The kids presumably got to keep the custom coloring books they’d been provided of the magnificent Lake Carroll near Lanark, IL, which was full of drawings of all the fantastic facilities that would be there before long.

Workers piled over 700,000 cubic feet of soil into the new dam, and shifted another half million to make one of the highest hills in the area even taller and more steep to create what was then called the Plumtree Ski Area. It wasn’t long before the lake was picturesque, perfect for boating and a lovely home for fish and waterfowl.

Over the years more developers participated, the Lake Carroll Property Owners Association made continuous improvements and many more families joined the community. The golf course reached full size, nearly every attraction in the coloring book (and a few that weren’t) became reality and people kept discovering and loving “the great escape.” Lake Carroll naturally grew to become a truly cohesive community, and soon there was even more to enjoy than the facilities, such as a regular church service and clubs built around service, travel and hobbies.

Fawnridge Realty knows the history behind Lake Carroll as well as the details behind the surrounding communities like Lanark, IL. That is why we’re so glad to have been able to use the superb two volume history written by longtime resident Evelyn Rolfes as a primary reference. Rolfes did a masterful job of documenting Lake Carroll’s growth as a community, and we’re grateful for her hard work.