Camp Emmanuel History

The CB&Q Railroad constructed the 17 acre, spring-fed lake in the 1920's to supply their steam locomotives with water. Eventually three doctors purchased the lake and grounds from the CB&Q and constructed cabins along the dam. Later the doctors donated the lake and grounds to the Southern Illinois District of the Church of the Brethren. Plans for Camp Emmaneul began to take shape.

In the 1940's the camp's founders acquired buildings from Camp Ellis, an army base which served as both training grounds and a WWII Prisoner of War Camp near Ipava, Illinois. Encompassing more than 15,000 acres, 30,000+ US soldiers would train at Camp Ellis, and 2,500 prisoners would spend time there before the end of the war. After the war, the camp was divided up and some of the buildings were moved and reconstructed on Camp Emmaneul grounds. Original German writing is still evident in the main lodge, and the buildings are one of the few surviving remnants of one of the largest training camps of WWII.

Photos of previous camps are available to view in the small chapel above the dining hall. Be sure to take a look next time you stop by!


1950 Camp Photo