Macoupin Creek

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Macoupin Creek
Physical characteristics
Main source Montgomery County west of Morrisonville
39°24′39″N 89°34′48″W / 39.4108846°N 89.5800944°W / 39.4108846; -89.5800944 (Macoupin Creek origin)
River mouth Confluence with the Illinois River near Hardin
420 ft (130 m)
39°10′47″N 90°35′55″W / 39.1797702°N 90.5987325°W / 39.1797702; -90.5987325 (Macoupin Creek mouth)Coordinates: 39°10′47″N 90°35′55″W / 39.1797702°N 90.5987325°W / 39.1797702; -90.5987325 (Macoupin Creek mouth)
Length 99.7 mi (160.5 km)
Basin features
GNIS ID 412812
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap · Google Maps
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

Macoupin Creek is a 99.7-mile-long (160.5 km)[1] tributary of the Illinois River, which it joins near the village of Hardin, Illinois.

The word macoupin refers to the yellow pond lily[2][3] (Nuphar advena), a native plant of the regional wetlands, and a favorite food source of local Indians. It has a large rootstock (a tuber) that was baked in a fire pit. The spelling is derived from French attempts at documenting the pronunciation of the Indians, with macoupin being the modern form of the original French macopine.

Macoupin Creek has been channelized near its junction with the Illinois River. A straight channel cuts through old oxbows on a direct path to the river. The old channel meanders through the Illinois bottoms for about 5 miles (8 km) before joining the river, near the village of Hardin. The two channels thus form an island, called Macoupin Island, across the Illinois River from Hardin.

The old channel of Macoupin Creek forms the northwestern boundary between Greene and Jersey Counties. The actual boundary is ambiguous because of the shifting creek.

The creek is about 100 miles (160 km) in length. The lower 23 miles (37 km) of the creek runs in a narrow valley, usually less than a mile wide, between steep bluffs that rise up to 180 feet (55 m) high. The bottom of the valley is mainly flat, and has little or no gradient in the downstream direction. The modern channel runs in a straight line, with little evidence of old oxbows. This portion of Macoupin Creek therefore appears to be a drainage ditch that was dug through a swamp or a marsh, that had no well-defined natural channel. This matches with old accounts that this area was a wetland, with natural lakes, and vast amounts of growing macoupin.

Cities, towns and counties[edit]

The following cities, towns and villages are drained by Macoupin Creek:

Parts of the following counties are in the Macoupin Creek watershed:

Parks and access points[edit]

Lakes and impoundments[edit]

  • Bunn Lake
  • Carlinville Lake
  • New Gillespie Lake
  • Otter Lake
  • Sunset Lake

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at WebCite, accessed May 13, 2011
  2. ^ "The Illinois Indians, Food Gathering", MuseumLink Illinois, Illinois State Museum, 2000 
  3. ^ "The Illinois Indians, Archeology, Zimmerman Site", MuseumLink Illinois, Illinois State Museum, 2000 

External links[edit]