Embarras River (Illinois)

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For other uses, see Embarras River (disambiguation).
The Embarras River at Lawrenceville

The Embarras River (/ˈæmbrɔː/ AM-braw) is a 195-mile-long (314 km)[1] tributary of the Wabash River in southeastern Illinois in the United States. The waters of the Embarras reach the Gulf of Mexico via the Wabash, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers. The river drains a watershed of approximately 1,566,450 acres (6,339.2 km2) in an agricultural region. The name comes from French explorers, who used the term embarras for river obstacles, blockages, and difficulties relating to logjams and the like.


Map of the Embarras River highlighted within the Wabash River watershed

The Embarras River rises in Champaign County. The upper reaches of the Embarras include the detention ponds near the intersection of Windsor Road with U.S. Route 45 in southeastern Champaign; the southern portion of the University of Illinois campus, including the small creek near the Vet Med Building; and Meadowbrook Park in south Urbana.

The Embarras flows generally southward through Douglas, Coles, Cumberland and Jasper counties. In Jasper County it turns southeast for the remainder of its course through Richland, Crawford and Lawrence counties. Portions of the river's lower course have been straightened and channelized. It joins the Wabash River 6 miles (10 km) southwest of Vincennes, Indiana.

Along its course the Embarras passes the towns of Villa Grove, Camargo, Charleston, Greenup, Newton, Ste. Marie and Lawrenceville.


  • In its upper course in Champaign County, the river collects the East Branch Embarras River, which rises in southwestern Vermilion County and flows 20.3 miles (32.7 km)[1] generally westwardly in a channelized course, past the town of Broadlands.
  • In Coles County, the Embarras collects the Little Embarras River, which rises in Edgar County and flows 19.6 miles (31.5 km)[1] southwestwardly.
  • In Jasper County, the Embarras collects the North Fork Embarras River, 64.0 miles (103.0 km) long,[1] which rises in Edgar County and flows southwardly through Clark and Crawford counties.

Variant names[edit]

The United States Board on Geographic Names settled on "Embarras River" as the stream's official name in 1964. According to the Geographic Names Information System, it has also been known as the "Ambraw River" and as the "Embarrass River."


The only population of harlequin darters (Etheostoma histrio) in Illinois is found in the Embarras River.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed May 19, 2011

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°38′35″N 87°37′2″W / 38.64306°N 87.61722°W / 38.64306; -87.61722