McHenry is a city with style – a folksy, warm, inviting style that has encouraged spectacular growth, welcomed newcomers, and shared the wealth of recreation opportunities that stem from its prime location. McHenry stands at the gateway to the special wonders of the northern Illinois Chain O’Lakes recreation area.

Recreation assets are all around, in the Fox River which channels through the heart of McHenry, in city, county, and state parks, in the lakes of the region, and in many privately operated facilities. The homes of the McHenry area reflect the people’s love of the great outdoors. They line the riverbanks, their boat docks pointing like fingers into the river’s flow. They rim the area’s lakes and look out onto the greens and fairways of fashionable golf courses. They hide nearly out of sight in the dense green of oak and hickory forests. And, they line the quiet streets of neighborhoods where neighbors talk to neighbors as life-long friends.

McHenry’s schools receive high marks from residents. Quality is emphasized in curriculum, staff, buildings, and equipment. Excellent parochial school systems are here as well, satisfying parents who want religion-based schooling for their children.

Area residents take comfort in knowing that exceptional health care facilities are readily available when needed in three medical centers, one in McHenry itself and two others nearby. Shopping is convenient in the McHenry downtown area and in a large commercial center developing at the northern edge of the community. This growing gateway is a special place to live, work, and raise a family.

In 1837 a Chicago surveyor named A. S. Barnum, at the behest of one Henry McLean, laid out a village at the site of a small settlement on the east bank of the Fox River. He called it “McHenry” as an honor to a general who had led the fight against Blackhawk in the Blackhawk Wars. The fact that the general never lived in the area was of no matter. At the time, McHenry had a hotel and tavern, a hefty, log building owned by B.B. Brown.

McHenry’s first school classes were held at one end of the hotel in 1840. By 1839, the community had two hotels, a dry goods store, a shoemaker, blacksmith, a sawmill, a carpenter and joiner shop, and a general store. By 1850, the town had a brick Baptist church that stood on the corner of Green and Elm streets. When a county was carved out of northern Cook County, it became McHenry county and the village of McHenry was anointed as the county seat.

In the legislative session of 1838-1839, McHenry county was chopped in half, creating Lake county to the east and leaving McHenry county with its seat near its eastern boundary. Too near for most county residents who complained loudly to their representatives. With the arrival of the railroad in 1854, Gagetown sprang to life on the west bank of the Fox, opposite McHenry. It was named for George Gage, who led the effort to bring the railroad to the county. Naturally, it was built on his side of the river. Gagetown gradually attracted McHenry’s business to its side of the river and ultimately the two communities merged as one, under the McHenry label. In 1872 McHenry was formally incorporated as a village. Fifty-one years later, it became a city. Ideal may be an over used word but it suits well McHenry’s location and transportation assets. The city is a breeze away from some of the state’s finest recreation assets – Moraine Hills State Park and the spectacular Chain O’Lakes area – and near enough to the Interstate system for a quick jump to anywhere in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Two major state highways intersect in the city – north-south Rt. 31 and east-west Rt. 120. The latter intersects U.S. 12 only 15 miles to the east. Rt. 12 is a four-lane highway that connects with Interstate 290 about 20 minutes to the south. Rt. 31 carries traffic south and links with I-90 on the north side of Elgin, about 18 miles south of McHenry. To the north, Rt. 31 intersects Rt. 12 and leads to Wisconsin’s vacationland. O’Hare International Airport is less than an hour away and is easily reached by car or local limousine services. Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport is also about an hour away for McHenry residents. Private and small corporate aircraft are based at Lake In The Hills and Galt Airports, a few minutes to the south of McHenry. Chicago-bound commuters board comfortable METRA commuter trains in McHenry and nearby Crystal Lake for a speedy trip to the Loop. PACE buses provide economical transportation to points within the community and to neighboring cities in McHenry County. Dozens of area and national common carriers provide motor freight transportation service to McHenry business and industry. The main line of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad also serves the community and McHenry County.


School Address Phone Grade
Edgebrook Elementary School 701 N Green St, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-3123 Elementary Schools
Hilltop Elementary School 2615 W Lincoln Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-4421 Elementary Schools
James C Bush Elementary School 2117 W Church Ave, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-3731 Elementary Schools
Johnsburg School 2117 W Church Ave # C McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 344-4048 Elementary Schools
Landmark Elementary School 3614 Waukegan Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-8120 Elementary Schools
Riverwood Elementary School 300 S Driftwood Trl, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 344-7130 Elementary Schools
Johnsburg High School 2002 W Ringwood Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-9233 High Schools
Mc Henry High School E Campus 1012 N Green St, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-1145 High Schools
Mchenry High Schl-West Campus 4724 W Crystal Lake Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-7077 High Schools
Johnsburg Middle School 2117 W Church Ave # C McHenry IL McHenry (815) 385-6210 Middle Schools
Mchenry Junior High School 2120 W Lincoln Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-2522 Middle Schools
Montini Middle School 1405 N Richmond Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-1022 Middle Schools
Parkland Junior High School 1802 N Ringwood Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-8810 Middle Schools
Parkland Junior High School 1802 N Ringwood Rd, McHenry, IL 60050 (815) 385-8810 Middle Schools
McHenry History

“During the Black Hawk War in 1832, Major William McHenry led troops through northern Illinois. Over the next few years, settlement of Fox River Valley began and McHenry was developed on the west bank of the river. By 1837, a hotel, sawmill and ferryboat were in service. Legislation creating McHenry County was passed that year. The village of McHenry served as county seat until 1844. In 1851 a wagon road was constructed right through town. The famed Riverside Hotel was built in 1864 and it still stands today.

In 1854, George Gage secured the route of the Fox Valley Railroad from Chicago to the area. The village of McHenry was incorporated in 1872. Even though there were few than 800 residents, business flourished. There were over 80 enterprises including flour mills, harness makers, seven saloons, a pickle factory, a newspaper and a brewery and also seven churches by the year 1876.

McHenry grew slowly over the next fifty years. Known as a resort destination in the twenties, McHenry had bands playing at local pavilions and trainloads of visitors coming to stay in the cottages along the Fox River. Marine recreation became popular then and still remains important today. After WWII new industry came to town, which included metalworking, electronics, and automotive components. Beginning in 1956 as a 23 bed community hospital, the Northern Illinois Medical Center became a regional trauma center serving two states.

Starting in the late 1940’s, subdivisions were being built all over the city. There were many who lived there and commuted to Chicago for work. The population tripled from 1950-1970. It went from 2,080 to 6,772. It then tripled again by the year 2000 with a population of 21,501. While McHenry continues to grow in all directions, there remain a few problems. There is a lot of traffic congestion and not enough access to the Fox River.”

McHenry Trivia & Fun Facts

“McHenry is the birthplace of two college basketball players: Luke Slater (Army Black Knights) and Montana Heirmen (Bradley Braves).

Matt Skiba, guitarist/singer-songwriter of the punk rock band Alkaline Trio lived in McHenry during his childhood.

McHenry, IL is featured in the beginning of Kevin Smith’s controversial film, Dogma.

The elevation of McHenry is 761 feet

The area historical tornado activity is 59% greater than the overall U.S. average.”