Lena, Illinois

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Lena Il Downtown4.JPG
Buildings in downtown Lena
Country United States
State Illinois
County Stephenson
Township West Point
Elevation 948 ft (289 m)
Coordinates 42°22′43″N 89°49′35″W / 42.37861°N 89.82639°W / 42.37861; -89.82639Coordinates: 42°22′43″N 89°49′35″W / 42.37861°N 89.82639°W / 42.37861; -89.82639
Area 2.61 sq mi (7 km2)
 - land 2.61 sq mi (7 km2)
 - water 0.00 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 2,912 (2010)
Density 1,350.0 / sq mi (521 / km2)
Founded 1834
Village President Dennis Bergman
Postal code 61048
Area code 815
Location of Lena within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Lena, Illinois
Website: http://www.villageoflena.com/

Lena is a village in Stephenson County, Illinois. The population was 2,912 at the 2010 census.


In 1853, a railroad survey by B. Dornblazer determined a course through present-day Lena. Samuel F. Dodds, who owned 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land in the area, purchased an additional tract of 80 acres (320,000 m2) on behalf of the railroad company and grading work was begun. Dodds owned a stone residence which still occupies Lot No. 1 on Lena Street, while Dr. F. Voightheld owned a log home (which has subsequently been demolished) near the train depot. At the time, these two buildings made up the extent of the town.

The town was originally shaped as a parallelogram covering twenty-six blocks for a total of 304 housing lots. During the summer of 1853, lots sold rapidly, commanding prices varying from $50 to $150 each. On New Year's Day 1854, track was laid, and railway cars began running between Freeport and Warren. The population began to grow, mostly with English and Irish residents. In 1854, there were about a dozen families in Lena. The public school was operated by Miss S. D. Hyde, Dr. J. R. Chambers was the only other physician in the township, and several local business were operating:

  • Dry goods and groceries — S. H. McEathron, William Allen, J. E. Ambrose
  • Lumber yard — J. N. Clifford
  • Blacksmith — William Young
  • Grain dealer — N. Perrin
  • Postmaster and railroad agent — Samuel F. Dodds
  • Physicians — Drs. N. C Pickard and F. Voight

There were also three church organizations in the village:

  • Presbyterian, Rev. R. Colston, Pastor
  • Methodist, Rev. A. Wolf, Pastor
  • Baptist, Rev. J. E. Ambrose, Pastor.

There were no church edifices in the village at that time, and the congregations took turns occupying the schoolhouse.

During the summer of 1855, Reber & Cheney and Dodds erected a three-story brick building at the corner of Railroad and Schuyler streets. It was completed in the fall of 1856 at a cost of about $4,000. The building is still used by local businesses. The Panic of 1857 had little effect on the growth of the town, and rapid expansion continued through 1860.

As growth continued after the Civil War, the first town newspaper called the Lena Star was established in 1867, with Dodds as editor. During its first year, the newspaper reported a local fire and called for a town water pump. Several fires erupted through 1868, and J.M. Shannon (who took over as editor of the newspaper) continued calls for a pump.[1] The Lena Water Tower was finally established on May 15, 1868.

By 1870 Lena's population had reached 1,295 people and its social and business community continued to grow. The Lena Fire Department was established in 1869 and officially met for the first time in 1870. Despite the presence of the fire department and well, fires continued to plague Lena. During the early 1870s structure fires consumed a warehouse, a stable, a rural school and several Lena houses. News of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was unsettling to the residents of Lena, and a fire of 1874 nearly destroyed the old railway depot and freight houses.[1]

A local opera house, constructed in 1879, was featured on the History Channel show American Pickers in February 2010. The Opera House, now reconstructed, was closed in 1938.[2]

Radio station WQLF (102.1 FM) is licensed to the city of Lena.


Lena is located at 42°22′43″N 89°49′35″W / 42.37861°N 89.82639°W / 42.37861; -89.82639 (42.378595, -89.826308).[3]

According to the 2010 census, the village has a total area of 2.61 square miles (6.8 km2), all land.[4]

The town of Lena is located in parts of Sections 32 and 33, on the Illinois Central Railroad, twelve miles (19 km) west of Freeport, and is, next to that city, the largest town in the county.


Climate data for Lena, Illinois
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 27
Average low °F (°C) 10
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.15
Source: weather.com[5]


At the 2000 census,[6] there were 2,887 people, 1,164 households and 807 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,350.0 per square mile (520.9/km²). There were 1,257 housing units at an average density of 587.8 per square mile (226.8/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 98.58% White, 0.21% African American, 0.03% Native American, 0.10% Asian, 0.31% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.14% of the population.

There were 1,164 households of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.4% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.6% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.95.

24.5% of the population were under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 22.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 88.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.5 males.

The median household income was $39,94, and the median family income was $49,375. Males had a median income of $40,202 versus $23,063 for females. The per capita income for the village was $18,613. About 2.2% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.3% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.


Education in Lena is provided by the Lena-Winslow Consolidated School District #202. Within the district are facilities in Lena (kindergarten, elementary, junior high, and high schools). Lena-Winslow High School is noted for its excellence in sports, music, theater and competitive speech.[citation needed] The Lena-Winslow Panther Football team won the Class 1A State Championship in 2010 and 2013. The high school is also home to LWTV, one of the state's few community-access (Public, educational, and government access (PEG)) television stations that operates under the auspicies of a school facility.

Notable people[edit]

Points of Interest[edit]


  1. ^ a b Welton, Sharon. "Lena Water Tower," (PDF), National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 30 September 1996, HAARGIS Database, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  2. ^ http://www.journalstandard.com/entertainment/x196128339/Lena-s-history-exposed-Well-guarded-secret-highlighted-on-American-Pickers
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  5. ^ "Monthly Averages for Lena, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ Charles Newell Fowler biography, United States Congress. Accessed August 9, 2007.

External links[edit]