Lithia Springs Marina is set on picturesque Lake Shelbyville, appropriately located near Shelbyville, Ill. Widely known for its boat rentals, which include fishing crafts, pontoons and houseboats, Lithia Springs Marina has been around as long as the lake itself. "How's that?" you ask. Well, the story begins in the 1960's, when the United States Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Kaskaskia River as part of a larger project to control flooding and created lakes Shelbyville, Carlyle and Rend. At the time of the lake's creation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers solicited bids to build marinas at three selected sites on Lake Shelbyville. Business partners, Robert Bitzer and James Taggart joined forces with the Prosser family, all from Shelbyville, to submit a bid on the site nearest the city of Shelbyville.
The group won the bid, and Lithia Springs was born. As part of the agreement, the group put in docks, built a grocery store, founded a supply shop and other improvements. The marina has continued as a family operation, and today is one of the most picturesque sites on the lake.
Bob Taggart is the son of James Taggart, and when he returned home from a stint in the Navy during the Vietnam War, he became involved in the family business, and operated as the marina's manager for many years.
Lake Shelbyville is not as much a basin as it is a long, narrow strip of water, with many inlets and coves to enjoy. The entire lake is 25 miles long, but there is 250 miles of shoreline to explore. As Taggart explains, if you want to lose yourself for a weekend and never see another soul, it's easy to do on this lake. "You can take your boat and get completely out of the mainstream of traffic in one of the lake's coves." Lake Shelbyville is also one of the first greenbelted lakes created by the Corps, which means the federal government controls all building within 300 yards of the lakeshore.
"Our backyard of our home was close to the lake as possible, but still far enough from the lake that you had no lake view," Taggart says. No lake view for the Taggart family means lots of natural beauty for those on the lake itself.
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The marina offers a selection of pontoon boats, including choices from Godfrey and Crest's Sunset Bay models. Want to host a party for 25 people or more on the water? Rent a party barge, an oversized pontoon boat complete with two barbecue gas grills, picnic tables, a toilet, swim ladder and safety equipment. The marina also rents out Sunstar houseboats as well as a range of great fishing boats.
Amenities include a floating Subway sandwich restaurant (one of just two floating Subway restaurants in America), a ship's store that offers live bait, ice, snacks, groceries, fishing tackle, boating and skiing accessories, clothing, souvenirs, a fuel dock and much more.
Lithia Springs' service department is also dedicated to help with any engine problems that may arise. They service Mercury, Force, MerCruiser and Volvo Penta engines. Just need a part? No problem, as you can pick up oil, lube, batteries and other products you might need to get back on the water.
Part of what makes Lithia Springs so special is the loyalty of its employees. "Most of the employees have been with Lithia Springs for quite some time," Taggart says. "Twenty years, 15 years, for the full-time employees." This dedication means if you have a question or need engine help, you'll be dealing with experienced, friendly personnel, all dedicated to helping you. Need help docking? Call ahead on the radio and staff members are ready and willing to come assist you at once.
All of this adds up to one great pontoon or houseboat vacation. Interested in enjoying creature comforts while still feeling secluded from civilization? Schedule your weekend at Lithia Springs by calling 800-447-4121. Learn more about the marina by visiting www.lithiamarina.com. For more information on the Crest and Godfrey pontoon boats that Lithia Springs currently uses for its rental fleet, visit www.crestpontoonboats.com or www.nauticalglobalgroup.com.