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Pecatonica, Illinois facts for kids

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Sign leading into the south side of Pecatonica
Sign leading into the south side of Pecatonica
Small Town, Bright Future
Location of Pecatonica in Winnebago County, Illinois.
Location of Pecatonica in Winnebago County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Country United States
State Illinois
County Winnebago
Township Pecatonica
 • Total 1.31 sq mi (3.39 km2)
 • Land 1.28 sq mi (3.32 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
771 ft (235 m)
 • Total 2,090
 • Density 1,628.99/sq mi (628.77/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area code(s) 815
FIPS code 17-58408
Wikimedia Commons Pecatonica, Illinois

Pecatonica is a village in Winnebago County, Illinois, United States. It is part of the Rockford, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,195 at the 2010 census, up from 1,997 in 2000.


Civil War records from the state of Illinois include soldiers from Lysander, the area's common name before incorporation by rail speculators. The word Pecatonica is an anglicization of two Algonquian language words; Bekaa (or Pekaa in some dialects), which means slow and niba, which means water; forming the conjunction Bekaaniba or Slow Water. The village was named after the Pecatonica River, which forms its northern border. The Chicago & North Western Railroad came through in 1853 from Chicago and continued to Freeport, Illinois. That sparked the town to be the center of commerce for western Winnebago County. The Village of Pecatonica was incorporated in 1869, built on territory rightfully owned by Indians and previously deeded to the Reed family by US President James K. Polk. An electric interurban line known as the Rockford & Interurban ran from Rockford through Winnebago, Illinois and Pecatonica to Ridott, Illinois and on to Freeport until the line's eventual abandonment in 1930.

In February 1945, six Japanese men were arrested and sent to internment camps for sending coded messages to the Imperial Japanese Army. After the messages were intercepted, Pecatonica police searched their apartment and found large quantities of ingredients that could potentially create explosives. As of 2015, the motive of the Japanese men has not been declassified.

In Pecatonica, a small depot building remains standing near Skinner's Auto Body and Forget-Me-Not Floral, just off the 300 block of Main Street. For the portion of the rail line between Pecatonica and Winnebago, the line often parallels the Pecatonica River. This route has since been reclaimed as a nature trail known as the Prairie Path, and with the exception of small portions of private property near Winnebago (there are roads to avoid this portion) it is possible to walk or bike this route today. C.W. Knowlton opened his first bank here in 1882 and built a Queen Anne Victorian house on Main Street, on the hill overlooking the business district. It was restored by the Ed Smith Family from 1983 until the family moved out of the home.

Prior to rail traffic, this region of Northern Illinois received stagecoach traffic. A limestone house on Comly Road dates to this period, and there are permanent wagon wheel scars near a utility building for the 12 Mile Grove Cemetery, which is just hundreds of feet from the current corridor used by U.S. Route 20, a major east-west route through Northern Illinois. Further west, Route 20 parallels more roads which sometime bear the phrase "Stagecoach Trail". Another intriguing element of the past was found while connecting a house on 11th St. to utilities in the late 1980s. A wooden casket was found, buried very deep. It was believed that the person buried died of some disease presumed contagious, and thus the body was taken about a mile north from the current Route 20.

Pecatonica is the hometown of Hacks Auction, Northern Illinois premier auction house and J&J Tumbling and Trampoline which has produced several world class athletes, including 1988 Woman's Tumbling World Champion Megan Cunningham Gearhart (later a coach) and National Trampoline Team member Michael Devine.


Pecatonica is located at 42°18′36″N 89°21′31″W / 42.31000°N 89.35861°W / 42.31000; -89.35861 (42.309955, -89.358647).

According to the 2010 census, Pecatonica has a total area of 1.295 square miles (3.35 km2), of which 1.28 square miles (3.32 km2) (or 98.84%) is land and 0.015 square miles (0.04 km2) (or 1.16%) is water.

Parks and recreation

North of downtown Pecatonica, on West 1st Street is Sumner Park, which has three baseball diamonds, four tennis courts, two basketball courts, horseshoe pits and children's playgrounds. The park connects with the recently acquired Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve, both to the west and across the river to the north. Pecatonica Wetlands is made up of 1047 acres of flood plain forest, oxbow pond marshes and upland forest along the Pecatonica River. The site features spring flora and birdlife. Site development is still in progress but when complete will include fishing access, hiking and equestrian trails, picnic areas and wildlife areas. The Seward Bluffs Forest Preserve is also located nearby. The combined Public Parks and the Recreation Bike and Prairie Path offer a wide variety of recreation. It is a favored fishing spot along the Pecatonica River.

Winnebago County Fair Grounds

The fairgrounds have over 108 acres of indoor and outdoor activities including music festivals, motor sports, auto and trade shows, conventions, antique markets, social events, and the Winnebago County Fair.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,029
1890 1,059 2.9%
1900 1,045 −1.3%
1910 1,022 −2.2%
1920 1,088 6.5%
1930 1,152 5.9%
1940 1,302 13.0%
1950 1,438 10.4%
1960 1,659 15.4%
1970 1,781 7.4%
1980 1,732 −2.8%
1990 1,760 1.6%
2000 1,997 13.5%
2010 2,195 9.9%
2020 2,090 −4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,997 people, 791 households, and 579 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,607.2 people per square mile (621.8/km2). There were 827 housing units at an average density of 665.6 per square mile (257.5/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 98.35% White, 0.25% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.10% Asian, 0.25% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.60% of the population.

There were 791 households, out of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.7% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% were non-families. 23.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the village, the population was spread out, with 27.2% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $47,361, and the median income for a family was $55,086. Males had a median income of $40,900 versus $27,143 for females. The per capita income for the village was $20,420. About 3.6% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.7% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.


Education in Pecatonica is provided by the Pecatonica Community Unit School District #321, which operates three school buildings. The Elementary School, originally constructed in 1938, was used as a high school for many years. Two additions to that structure were built in 1962 and 1970 respectively. The Middle School, also a former high school building, was built in 1958 and also accommodated two additions to the original structure in 1967 and 1970.

The current high school building opened in 2003. This state-of-the-art facility is approximately 107,000 square feet. Along with the new high school building a football field and eight lane track were constructed. The high school complex also includes a baseball diamond and play field space for physical education classes. The building was built as a flexible multi-purpose facility that will allow for both school-based and community-based activities.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Pecatonica (Illinois) para niños

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