Not too long ago, Wauconda was a slow paced summer resort town where people came to enjoy the cool breezes that blew in from Bangs Lake. The resort town is gone, but the friendly, close-knit feeling of a small town remains. Today, Wauconda is an expanding community of business, industry, and fine homes, all carefully balanced and growing at about the same steady rate, while still retaining the small town atmosphere prized by its residents.
Industry is largely gathered in the northern section of the village where future developments will take the form of industrial parks with attractive buildings and landscaping. Retail business is expanding around U.S. 12, a primary north-south highway between Wisconsin’s vacationland and the Chicago metropolitan area. There are impressive new stores in equally new shopping centers.
Single family homes still rim the shores of Bangs Lake, a mix of small older homes and larger new mid-size and executive style dwellings. Fine homes line streets throughout the village and extend out into the countryside in new and handsome subdivisions. In addition to the water sports offered by Bangs Lake, residents enjoy a half-dozen well-equipped community parks and a year round program of sports, activities, and fitness offered by the Wauconda Park District. The Chain O’Lakes recreation area is only a few minutes north of Wauconda.
The village’s schools, both public and private, maintain excellent education programs and facilities. The Lake County Area Vocational Center expands the high school curriculum with career oriented training. The nearby College of Lake County assures easy access to higher education.
Community clinics provide high quality health care as well as two nearby hospitals – Good Shephard Hospital situated in the Barrington countryside and Condell Hospital in Libertyville. Where once Wauconda was a great place for summertime fun, it is now a great and secure place to live, work, and raise a family.
|Robert Crown Elementary School||620 W Bonner Rd, Wauconda, IL 60084||847-526-7100||Elementary Schools|
|Wauconda Elementary School||225 Osage St, Wauconda, IL 60084||847-526-6671||Elementary Schools|
|Wauconda High School||555 N Main St, Wauconda, IL 60084||847-526-6611||High Schools|
|Transfiguration School||316 W Mill St, Wauconda, IL 60084||847-526-6311||Middle Schools|
|Wauconda Middle School||215 Slocum Lake Rd, Wauconda, IL 60084||847-526-2122||Middle Schools|
Along a horse trail from Chicago to Janesville, Wisconsin is Bangs Lake. It was named after Justus Bangs, and in 1836 he was attracted to the area on the south side of the lake.
The fertile area could not support farming due to the lack of good transportation. Bangs needed to earn cash in order to improve his land. He decided to carry mail between Chicago and Janesville through his settlement. He continued to do that until 1845 when the trail was improved to allow a stagecoach. A log schoolhouse was built by 1839 by Andrew Cook, a friend of the Bangs. Still standing today by the southwest shore of Bangs Lake is the house that Cook built in the mid 1840’s when he fired local clay into brick.
Bangs and Cook platted a village in 1850 to aid in the sale of area land. They called their unincorporated town Bangs Lake but others called it Wauconda. The name Wauconda came at the suggestion of a local teacher who was reading a book with an Indian character named Wauconda. Growth was very slow and because of that they were not able to incorporate until 1877.
Though a small community of only 368 in 1910, it achieved some prominence as a vacation spot for blue collar Chicagoans. They loved the waters of Bangs Lake and many summer homes ringed the lake.
Justin Orvis and Robert Wynn, in 1910, solicited the community the idea of constructing a traction rail line from Palatine to Fox Lake. Wauconda residents quickly contributed almost $20,000 for the line when grain prices rose. They began construction immediately in Palatine, but engineering and economic problems delayed the entry of the steam line into Wauconda until mid-1913. The line was called the Palatine, Lake Zurich & Wauconda (PLZ&W). The railroad hauled agricultural products, local passengers and summer vacationers from Chicago to Bangs Lake. Unfortunately, the poorly made and under funded line did not help Wauconda grow in population. It grew to only 550 by the year 1939.
The hard surfacing of Rand Road in the 1920 eventually doomed the PLZ&W, though it did eventually bring expansion to the area. The population in 1946 was 650 and it almost doubled by 1952. Into the late 1960’s Wauconda remained a popular vacation spot. Its beaches were even memorialized in the 1980’s movie “Blues Brothers.” As the community became a suburban residential area, the population rose to over 2,200 by 1956 and 5,662 by 1974. In the year 2000, the population reached 9,448.
Wauconda Trivia & Fun Facts
Birthplace of Graham Beatty, College Basketball Player for the Harvard Crimson.
NASCAR/ARCA Racecar driver Brent Sherman is from Wauconda.
On January 28, 2005, over 3,000 people participated in a snowball fight for 10 minutes. It set a new world record for most participants in such an event.
On April 11, 1965, a tornado touched down near Crystal Lake, and ended two miles north of Wauconda. $1.5 million damage was reported.
In the movie, “Blues Brothers,” the scene where several state trooper cars crash off the highway embankment was filmed at the Rt. 12 overpass in Wauconda. They had trouble getting the cars to flip over when they went down the embankment, so they dug a hole into the embankment to help the cars flip over as they hit it.