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Rochelle, Illinois
Sign seen entering the city of Rochelle
Sign seen entering the city of Rochelle
Official seal of Rochelle, Illinois
The Hub City
Location of Rochelle in Ogle County, Illinois.
Location of Rochelle in Ogle County, Illinois.
Rochelle, Illinois is located in Ogle County, Illinois
Rochelle, Illinois
Rochelle, Illinois
Location in Ogle County, Illinois
Rochelle, Illinois is located in Illinois
Rochelle, Illinois
Rochelle, Illinois
Location in Illinois
Country United States
State Illinois
County Ogle
Township Flagg, Dement
 • Total 13.42 sq mi (34.76 km2)
 • Land 13.40 sq mi (34.71 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
823 ft (251 m)
 • Total 9,446
 • Density 704.87/sq mi (272.16/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Postal code
Area code(s) 815
FIPS code 17-64746

Rochelle is a city in Ogle County, Illinois. The population was 9,446 at the 2020 census. Rochelle is approximately 80 miles (130 km) west of Chicago and 25 miles (40 km) south of Rockford.


Originally named Hickory Grove, the town sits at the intersection of two rail lines. Having a number of granaries holding corn, wheat and other crops for shipping eastward, the town was an important rail link for farmers. During the Civil War, an arsonist burned some of the granaries. He was arrested but vigilantes stormed the local jail and hanged him from a tree. The town then was called Hang Town by locals and travelers. Later in the local pharmacy, some of the city fathers were discussing the problem of lack of people coming to reside in the town. It was agreed a new name was necessary. One of the men reached up on a shelf and picked up a bottle of Rochelle Salts, saying Rochelle would be a good name for the town.

After World War II, Rochelle grew, becoming a center for Swift Meat Packing and Del Monte canned vegetables such as asparagus, corn, green beans, and peas. Now the town hosts Nippon Sharyo, a Japanese maker of railroad passenger cars for commuter lines and regional corridor routes operated by Amtrak, as well as a meat packing plant owned by Hormel Foods.

On April 9, 2015, parts of the city suffered damage after a large wedge EF4 tornado struck the town.


Rochelle is located along the Kyte River (commonly, if inaccurately, known to most locals as "Kyte Creek").

According to the 2010 census, Rochelle has a total area of 12.919 square miles (33.46 km2), of which 12.9 square miles (33.41 km2) (or 99.85%) is land and 0.019 square miles (0.05 km2) (or 0.15%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,893
1890 1,789 −5.5%
1900 2,073 15.9%
1910 2,732 31.8%
1920 3,310 21.2%
1930 3,785 14.4%
1940 4,200 11.0%
1950 5,449 29.7%
1960 7,008 28.6%
1970 8,594 22.6%
1980 8,982 4.5%
1990 8,769 −2.4%
2000 9,424 7.5%
2010 9,574 1.6%
2020 9,446 −1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
2010 2020

2020 census

Rochelle city, Illinois - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 6,918 6,128 72.26% 64.87%
Black or African American alone (NH) 208 239 2.17% 2.53%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 21 20 0.22% 0.21%
Asian alone (NH) 65 73 0.68% 0.77%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 1 0 0.01% 0.00%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 0 15 0.00% 0.16%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 107 323 1.12% 3.42%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 2,254 2,648 23.54% 28.03%
Total 9,574 9,446 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


Rochelle, IL Rail Road Park 01
The Railroad Museum

Rochelle Railroad Park has spawned many imitators, such as the Railroad Platform in Folkston, Georgia. For many years the Whitcomb Locomotive Works, founded by George Dexter Whitcomb, manufactured industrial locomotives as well as the Partin Palmer automobile, in Rochelle.

Rochelle is also home to Union Pacific's Global III Intermodal Facility. At the time it opened it was Union Pacific's largest intermodal facility. Construction on the state-of-the-art facility was completed in 2003. On May 2, 2019, it was announced the yard would be closing in July 2019.

The Illinois River Energy ethanol plant is located in Rochelle.

Rochelle owns and operates Rochelle Municipal Airport.


Rochelle is known as the "Hub City" because of its location at the intersection of several major transportation routes. The first transcontinental highway in the United States, the Lincoln Highway, passed through Rochelle, as did US-51, one of the first highways to go the full north–south length of the United States. Both these roads have diminished in importance (and are now state highways 38 and 251, respectively), but Rochelle continues to be crossed by major highways, especially Interstates 88 and 39. Besides roadways, Rochelle is also crossed by two major rail lines; the Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway mainlines cross inside of the city limits. The effect, as seen on a map, was one of the spokes of an old wagon wheel meeting at the "hub", and thus the nickname was born. Today, literally dozens of businesses carry the moniker "Hub City", including furniture stores, shopping centers, realty firms, dry cleaners, and many others. Even the local high school's teams are known as the "Hubs".

Rochelle was once a stop for passenger trains operated by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and its successor, the Burlington Northern, such as North Coast Limited. The town saw its last passenger train in 1971, and in 2007, the depot, which had been built in 1921, was demolished.

Notable people

  • Joan Allen, actress
  • Joanna Baker, professor of ancient languages
  • Delos W. Baxter, Illinois state senator, lawyer, and mayor of Rochelle
  • Stan Campbell, pro football player
  • Mabel Craft Deering, journalist, born in Rochelle
  • William Gehring, Professor of Cognitive Psychology and one of the discoverers of Error Related Negativity
  • Lloyd Ingraham, actor
  • Paul R. Lawrence, Harvard professor and pioneer of contingency theory
  • William W. May, American athlete, competed in the 1908 London Olympics, Rochelle Township High School graduate and 1905 State Champion in the 50 yard dash
  • Daniel Van Kirk, comedian
  • Judith C. Toth, member of the Maryland House of Delegates (1975–1990)


Rochelle is served by two separate school districts. Rochelle Community Consolidated District 231 serves Rochelle and limited areas just outside town. District 231 has four elementary schools serving grades K–5: Abraham Lincoln Elementary, Central Elementary, Floyd J. Tilton Elementary, and Phillip May Elementary. The district also operates one middle school, Rochelle Middle School, serving grades 6–8. Rochelle Township High School District 212 operates Rochelle Township High School. About half of the high school's students come from Rochelle and District 231; the remaining students come from a number of outlying communities, including Kings, Steward, Creston, Hillcrest, Esmond, and Lindenwood.

There is also a private school named, St. Paul Lutheran School which enrolls children from the age of three, and up through the eighth grade.

See also

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

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Outstanding Hispanic athletes
Oscar De La Hoya
Michael Carbajal
Lee Trevino
Lorena Ochoa
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