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McHenry is a city in McHenry County, Illinois, United States. The 2010 U.S. census reported its population at 26,992 and rests at an elevation of 797 feet [4]. McHenry was at one time the county seat of McHenry County, which once included adjoining Lake County to the east. McHenry took its name from McHenry County, which was named for Major William McHenry, an Indian fighter.[5]

McHenry, Illinois
City of McHenry
The McHenry Riverwalk
The McHenry Riverwalk
Nickname(s): The Heart of the Fox
Location of McHenry in McHenry County, Illinois
Location of McHenry in McHenry County, Illinois
McHenry, Illinois is located in Illinois
McHenry, Illinois
McHenry, Illinois
McHenry, Illinois is located in the US
McHenry, Illinois
McHenry, Illinois
Location of McHenry within Illinois
Coordinates: 42°20′21″N 88°16′54″W / 42.33917°N 88.28167°W / 42.33917; -88.28167Coordinates: 42°20′21″N 88°16′54″W / 42.33917°N 88.28167°W / 42.33917; -88.28167
Country United States
State Illinois
County McHenry
Townships McHenry Township. Nunda Township
Founded May 10, 1836 [1]
Incorporated (village) 1872
Named for William McHenry
 • Type Mayor–council government
 • Mayor Wayne Jett
 • Total 15.04 sq mi (38.96 km2)
 • Land 14.61 sq mi (37.83 km2)
 • Water 0.43 sq mi (1.13 km2)
Elevation 797 ft (243 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 26,992
 • Estimate (2016)[3] 26,611
 • Density 1,821.80/sq mi (703.41/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP Code(s) 60050 and 60051
Area codes 815 and 779
FIPS code 17-45694
GNIS feature ID 424159
Wikimedia Commons McHenry, Illinois

McHenry is surrounded by natural lakes and streams, grassy moraine hills, gravel banks and shallow nutrient-rich peat bogs, remnants of receding glaciers from the last ice age. Moraine Hills State Park and Volo Bog State Natural Area preserve some of these natural features.[citation needed]



19th centuryEdit

In the 1830s various settlers arrived in the area and created the foundation for McHenry. Some of the family names can still be seen today: McCullom, McLean, Boone, and Wheeler.[6][7][8]

George Gage came to the area in 1835 and purchased a plot of land west of the Fox River. This area eventually came to be known as Gagetown. In 1854, George Gage played an instrumental role in bringing the railroad to the city.[9] Gagetown was eventually renamed to West McHenry.[10]

In 1851, a dam was built on Boone Creek which created Mill Pond. The pond encompassed an area between today's rail road tracks and Route 31 and north of Waukegan Road.

In 1860, the historical Count's House was completed.

On August 4, 1875, the first issue of the city newspaper, the McHenry Plaindealer, was published by Jay Van Slyke.[11][12]

In 1880, the first bridge in McHenry was built at Pearl Street.[13]

20th centuryEdit

On March 30th, 1908 a train bound for Ringwood crashed near the McHenry train depot. One person was killed. [14]

In 1929, Mill Pond was drained by removing the dam on Boone Creek.

The original Pearl Street bridge was dismantled in 1976 and rebuilt using concrete. The bridge was split into multiple parts and relocated. One part sits on the grounds of TC Industries in Crystal Lake. Another sits in a county storage unit.[15]

In 1985, the McHenry Plaindealer became part of the Northwest Herald.


McHenry is located 60 miles northwest of Chicago in northern Illinois on the Fox River. According to the 2010 census, McHenry has a total area of 15.175 square miles (39.30 km2), of which 14.74 square miles (38.18 km2) (or 97.13%) is land and 0.435 square miles (1.13 km2) (or 2.87%) is water.[16] McHenry lies within the Fox River Valley, and its downtown area is situated on that river which is how it earned the nickname "The Heart of the Fox".[citation needed]


The city of McHenry lies within two townships: McHenry Township and Nunda Township. The majority of the city falls within the former.


See the full article, List of mayors of McHenry, Illinois.

City CouncilEdit

The city council consists of representatives from the 7 city wards:[17]

  • Ward 1 - Victor A. Santi
  • Ward 2 - Andrew Glab
  • Ward 3 - Jeffrey A. Schaefer
  • Ward 4 - Scott Curry
  • Ward 5 - Richard Wimmer
  • Ward 6 - Patrick Devine
  • Ward 7 - Geri A. Condon

City ClerkEdit

Lynzi Nevitt is the City Clerk and is supported by the Deputy City Clerk, Marci Geraghty.[17]


Census Pop.
1880 874
1890 979 12.0%
1900 1,013 3.5%
1910 1,031 1.8%
1920 1,146 11.2%
1930 1,354 18.2%
1940 1,596 17.9%
1950 2,080 30.3%
1960 3,336 60.4%
1970 6,772 103.0%
1980 10,737 58.5%
1990 16,177 50.7%
2000 21,501 32.9%
2010 26,992 25.5%
Est. 2016 26,611 [3] −1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]

The population density was 1,850.2 per square mile (714.4/km²). There were 8,127 housing units at an average density of 699.4 per square mile (270.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.18% White, 0.35% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.89% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.31% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 7.10% of the population.

There were 7,872 households of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.2% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.25.

Age distribution was 28.5% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.

The median household income was $55,759, and the median family income was $66,040. Males had a median income of $46,552 versus $29,808 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,272. About 3.8% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.1% of those under age 18 and 2.6% of those age 65 or over.


McHenry is home to Fiesta Days, a ten-day festival in the middle of the summer that includes music, parades, food, car shows, and more.[19]

Historic Places on the National RegisterEdit


McHenry is home to Moraine Hills State Park which has many miles of hiking trails and connects to the Stratton Lock and Dam. Fishing from the dam is allowed only with a valid fishing license.[20][21]

In addition to several dozen city parks, the Prairie Trail — a sub-section of the larger Grand Illinois Trail — runs through the middle of the city.[22]

There once was a movie theater downtown but it was closed in 2014.[23] In 2017 it was announced that it would be reopening and renovated in late 2017.[24] A drive-in theater east of town is open during the summer months.[25]


Major industrial users including Medela, Follett School Solutions, Fabrik Industries, and Plaspros have located in the city's business parks. Centegra Hospital - McHenry provides emergency and in and out-patient health care services to the city and surrounding areas. Steady residential growth has resulted in significant commercial development. The north Richmond Road corridor has become a destination for shoppers in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin areas with numerous "big box" retailers and smaller chains.[citation needed]


Schools and librariesEdit

There are two school districts serving the city of McHenry: McHenry Community High School District 156 and McHenry School District 15. District 156 oversees two high schools while District 15 oversees five elementary schools and three middle schools.

McHenry is served by one public library which is part of Cooperative Computer Services (CCS) consortium.[26] The library itself houses physical books, DVDs, magazines, and more as well as providing access to online digital content. The library also offers various training classes on various topics and has several meeting rooms available for use by request.[27]


In addition to K-12 schools, McHenry County College holds business seminars and trainings in the Shah Center.[28]



The closest public international airports to the city of McHenry are Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

The closest private airport to the city is Galt Airport in Wonderlake.

Public transportationEdit

The city of McHenry is served by Pace Bus and connects travellers to other cities in the area.[29]


The Prairie Trail runs through the middle of McHenry from Crystal Lake and connects to trails near the border of Wisconsin.[30]

Passenger railEdit

McHenry Metra Station

McHenry is currently the terminus of a branch line on Metra's Union Pacific/Northwest Line, with daily passenger service to Ogilvie Transportation Center (Northwestern Station) in downtown Chicago.[31] The line that now terminates at McHenry once continued to Williams Bay, Wisconsin, but that service was discontinued in stages in the 1960s and 1970s.[32]


Illinois Route 31 and Illinois Route 120 intersect in the city center. While not highways or interstates, they are the main roads into and out of the city.

There have been talks by IDOT to extend US Route 12 from the border of Wisconsin at Genoa City through northern McHenry and eventually connect with the proposed Route 53 extension (FAP 342). The Route 12 extension is also known as the Richmond-Waukegan Expressway (FAP 420), but plans for this have been stalled for decades. [33] [34] [35] [36] [37]

Notable peopleEdit

Notable horsesEdit

  • Two Eyed Jack, born in McHenry; Quarter Horse stallion and showhorse; the leading all time sire of American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) champions[40] [41] [42] [43]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jun 29, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  4. ^,P3_TITLE:424159,McHenry
  5. ^ Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 100. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Munsell Publishing Company (1922). History of McHenry County, Illinois (Vol 1). 
  8. ^ Munsell Publishing Company (1922). History of McHenry County, Illinois (Vol 2). 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-27. 
  17. ^ a b c
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  19. ^
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  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Union Pacific / Northwest (UP-NW) Line Map
  32. ^ Behrens, P. L. (2002). Steam Trains to Geneva Lake: C&NW's Elgin – Williams Bay Branch. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Dodson, James (May–June 1998). "Ace of Clubs". Departures Magazine. American Express Publishing Corporation. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  39. ^ Wyss, Cyndi (15 May 2009). "Wyss: Economic uptick good, but bears price". Northwest Herald. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^

External linksEdit