McHenry County, Illinois

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McHenry County
Old McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock
Official seal of McHenry County
Map of Illinois highlighting McHenry County
Location within the U.S. state of Illinois
Map of the United States highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 42°19′N 88°27′W / 42.32°N 88.45°W / 42.32; -88.45
Country United States
State Illinois
FoundedJanuary 16th, 1836 [1]
Named forWilliam McHenry
Largest cityCrystal Lake
 • Total611 sq mi (1,580 km2)
 • Land603 sq mi (1,560 km2)
 • Water7.6 sq mi (20 km2)  1.3%
 • Total310,229
 • Density510/sq mi (200/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts6th, 14th

McHenry County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2020 Census, it had a population of 310,229,[2] making it the sixth-most populous county in Illinois. Its county seat is Woodstock.[3] McHenry County is one of the five collar counties of the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area. Long known as a center of recreation along with agriculture in the western portion, it has more recently experienced rapid rates of suburbanization, exurbanization and urbanization, but the western portions of the county remain primarily agricultural and rural.


McHenry County was formed in 1836 out of Cook and LaSalle counties. The county was named for Major William McHenry, a member of the Illinois Militia during Tecumseh's War, a major during the Blackhawk War in 1832, and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate. He died in Vandalia in 1835.

McHenry County originally stretched all the way east to Lake Michigan, with the county seat centrally in McHenry, but in 1839, the eastern townships of the county were carved out to form Lake County.

Historical sites[edit]

The Terwilliger House is one of several historical sites in McHenry County


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 611 square miles (1,580 km2), of which 603 square miles (1,560 km2) is land and 7.6 square miles (20 km2) (1.3%) is water.[4]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Climate and weather[edit]

Woodstock, Illinois
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: The Weather Channel[5]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Woodstock have ranged from a low of 11 °F (−12 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −29 °F (−34 °C) was recorded in January 1979 and a record high of 109 °F (43 °C) was recorded in July 1936. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.29 inches (33 mm) in February to 4.56 inches (116 mm) in June.[5]

McHenry County is like much of the Upper Midwest, as it usually sees hot, humid summers, and cold, snowy winters. The county is notably susceptible to high wind events, blizzards, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding.

Some of the most notable weather events in the county include the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, the Blizzard of 1967, the 1967 Belvidere - Oak Lawn tornado outbreak, the Blizzard of 1979, the Flood of 1996, the Blizzard of 1999, the Early Winter 2006 North American Storm Complex, the 2007 Midwest flooding event, the January 2008 tornado outbreak sequence, and the Blizzard of 2011.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2019[10] 2020[11]

As of the 2010 census, there were 308,760 people, 109,199 households, and 82,288 families residing in the county.[12] The population density was 511.9 inhabitants per square mile (197.6/km2). There were 116,040 housing units at an average density of 192.4 per square mile (74.3/km2).[4] The racial makeup of the county was 90.1% white, 2.5% Asian, 1.1% black or African American, 0.3% American Indian, 4.3% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 11.4% of the population.[12] In terms of ancestry, 34.4% were of German heritage, 18.7% were of Irish ancestry, 14.2% Polish, 10.8% Italian, 7.8% English, and 3.7% of American heritage.[13]

Of the 109,199 households, 40.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.3% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 24.6% were non-families, and 19.8% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.25. The median age was 38.0 years.[12]

The median income for a household in the county was $76,482 and the median income for a family was $86,698. Males had a median income of $61,971 versus $42,125 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,838. About 4.9% of families and 6.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.3% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.[14]




Census-designated places[edit]

Before the 2020 Census, only Chemung and Pistakee Highlands were CDPs.[15]

Unincorporated communities[edit]



McHenry County government is based primarily out of Woodstock, the county seat. The McHenry County Government Center, located on the north end of Woodstock along Illinois Route 47, features county offices as well as judicial facilities.[citation needed]

The current Sheriff of McHenry County, Illinois is Bill Prim, who was first elected in 2014.[16]


As a primarily outer suburban and exurban area, McHenry County has voted for the Republican candidate for President in all but two elections since 1880, the first being when “Bull Moose” candidate and former Republican president Theodore Roosevelt won the county in 1912.[17] Recent elections in 2004 and 2000 saw George W. Bush capture 59.72% and 58.5% of the county vote, respectively. In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama, then a Senator from Illinois, captured McHenry County with 52% of the vote—the first time a Democrat had carried the county since 1852.[17] In the 2012 presidential election, Obama only received 44% of the vote whereas Republican Mitt Romney captured 53% of the vote.[18] In the 2016 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump received 50% of the vote whereas Democratic Hillary Clinton received 42% of the vote.

No person with significant ties to McHenry County has ever been elected to the United States Congress or Illinois governorship.[citation needed] The mother of U.S. President Gerald Ford, Dorothy Ayer Gardner, was born in Harvard in 1892.

Presidential election results
Presidential election results[19]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2020 49.9% 82,260 47.5% 78,154 2.5% 4,164
2016 49.8% 71,612 42.2% 60,803 8.0% 11,515
2012 53.3% 71,598 44.6% 59,797 2.1% 2,842
2008 46.4% 64,845 51.8% 72,288 1.8% 2,499
2004 59.7% 76,412 39.3% 50,330 0.9% 1,206
2000 58.5% 62,112 38.3% 40,698 3.2% 3,375
1996 49.4% 41,136 37.5% 31,240 13.1% 10,880
1992 46.8% 41,356 28.1% 24,783 25.1% 22,155
1988 70.4% 46,135 28.9% 18,919 0.7% 445
1984 76.2% 47,282 23.2% 14,420 0.6% 340
1980 65.0% 40,045 23.6% 14,540 11.5% 7,070
1976 67.5% 37,115 30.6% 16,799 2.0% 1,075
1972 74.8% 36,114 25.0% 12,090 0.2% 108
1968 66.2% 27,245 26.5% 10,896 7.4% 3,044
1964 55.5% 22,503 44.5% 18,014
1960 67.0% 25,787 32.9% 12,659 0.2% 62
1956 78.3% 24,912 21.5% 6,820 0.2% 66
1952 74.2% 20,975 25.5% 7,218 0.2% 64
1948 73.5% 15,387 26.1% 5,459 0.5% 103
1944 73.6% 15,666 26.1% 5,567 0.3% 66
1940 72.3% 16,480 27.1% 6,170 0.6% 145
1936 60.6% 12,031 34.7% 6,893 4.7% 942
1932 53.1% 9,880 44.4% 8,260 2.4% 454
1928 65.3% 10,661 34.3% 5,596 0.4% 62
1924 67.2% 8,751 10.5% 1,372 22.2% 2,892
1920 85.1% 9,885 13.2% 1,536 1.7% 195
1916 72.0% 9,024 26.2% 3,278 1.8% 231
1912 31.8% 2,370 25.7% 1,913 42.5% 3,164
1908 71.1% 5,331 25.2% 1,887 3.8% 283
1904 77.2% 5,409 18.7% 1,309 4.1% 288
1900 70.1% 5,234 27.8% 2,076 2.1% 158
1896 70.9% 5,047 26.9% 1,913 2.2% 157
1892 55.2% 3,205 39.8% 2,311 5.1% 294


McHenry County College, a growing community college established in 1967, serves the majority of county residents. The college includes 2,000 full-time students and 5,800 part-time students. The main campus is located on the northwest side of Crystal Lake, along U.S. Route 14. Secondary facilities exist in Crystal Lake and McHenry.

McHenry County also includes dozens of school districts. This is a list of high schools that can be found in the county:

Public High Schools in McHenry County
Name of School School District Enrollment (2018–19)[20] Athletic Conference Team Mascot City
Alden-Hebron High School Alden-Hebron School District #19[21] 110 Northeastern Athletic Conference[22] Giants Hebron
Cary-Grove High School Community High School District 155 1,644 Fox Valley Conference Trojans Cary
Crystal Lake Central High School 1,477 Fox Valley Conference Tigers Crystal Lake
Crystal Lake South High School 1,480 Fox Valley Conference Gators Crystal Lake
Harry D. Jacobs High School Community Unit School District 300 2,089 Fox Valley Conference Golden Eagles Algonquin
Harvard High School Community Unit School District 50[23] 740 Kishwaukee River Conference Hornets Harvard
Huntley High School Consolidated School District 158 3,082 Fox Valley Conference Red Raiders Huntley
Johnsburg High School Johnsburg District 12[24] 593 Kishwaukee River Conference Skyhawks Johnsburg
Marengo Community High School Marengo Community High School District 154 665 Kishwaukee River Conference Indians Marengo
McHenry East High School McHenry Community High School District 156 700 Fox Valley Conference Warriors McHenry
McHenry West High School 1,443 McHenry
Prairie Ridge High School Community High School District 155 1,371 Fox Valley Conference Wolves Crystal Lake
Richmond-Burton Community High School Richmond-Burton High School District 157 636 Kishwaukee River Conference Rockets Richmond
Woodstock High School Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 1,008 Kishwaukee River Conference Blue Streaks Woodstock
Woodstock North High School 949 Kishwaukee River Conference Thunder Woodstock

Students in McHenry County may also be zoned into schools in other counties, such as Dundee-Crown High School in neighboring Carpentersville.

Private High Schools in McHenry County
Name of School Religious Affiliation Enrollment Athletic Conference Team Mascot City
Marian Central Catholic High School Roman Catholic 590[25] East Suburban Catholic Conference Hurricanes Woodstock

Medical facilities[edit]

Hospitals currently in the county include Mercy Harvard Hospital, Centegra Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry, Centegra Memorial Medical Center in Woodstock, and Centegra's Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital. Amita (formerly Presence) and Advocate health systems also maintain a strong influence in the county, and have hospitals in nearby Elgin and Barrington. On September 1, 2018, Centegra was acquired by Northwestern Medicine of Chicago, Illinois. Prior to its acquisition by Northwestern Medicine, Centegra was the largest independent employer in McHenry County. It is now part of a network of more than 10 hospitals and 400 care locations.


Much of McHenry County's economy centers around manufacturing, metalworking, media development and printing, transportation equipment, agriculture, health care, education, retail, food production, distribution, and technology. Gravel mining makes up a sizable portion of the country's economy.[26]

The major employment centers can be found in Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Huntley, McHenry, and Woodstock.[27][citation needed]

The southern portions of the county are within the scope of the Golden Corridor, the region of commerce along the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.


The county is known for its wide variety of shopping options. McHenry, Crystal Lake, and Algonquin/Lake in the Hills have established themselves as major retail areas, all featuring an array of big box stores, specialty stores, and restaurants. While there are no major malls located within the county, several lie just outside its borders: the lifestyle centers Algonquin Commons and Algonquin Galleria, and the regional indoor mall Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee.

In addition, several historic downtowns throughout the county offer unique shops and eateries in charming environments. The Woodstock Square Historic District, antique shops in Richmond and Hebron, downtown Crystal Lake and downtown Algonquin, and shops in other historic downtowns throughout the county accommodate residents and tourists alike. McHenry's Green Street is also a major attraction in the county.


Glacial Park, located in Northeast McHenry County

The entire county is served by the McHenry County Conservation District, which preserves sensitive land throughout the county and provides recreational opportunities for residents. The District also operates the McHenry County Prairie Path, a regional bike path that extends from the Wisconsin State Line in Richmond southward to Algonquin, where the path connects with the Fox River Bike Trail, which continues south to Aurora.

In addition, the Fox River, Kishwaukee River and Chain O'Lakes provide immense opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, and other water activities. Moraine Hills State Park and Chain O' Lakes State Park are both located in the county, adjacent to the waterway. Other major lakes in the county include Crystal Lake, Wonder Lake, and McCullom Lake.

There are also dozens of parks, golf courses, and country clubs throughout the county. Major skiing areas include Nordic Ski Jump in Fox River Grove and Buffalo Snowboarding Park in Algonquin. In addition, the Windy City Balloon Port in Fox River Grove offers hot air balloon rides over the Fox River Valley.

In 2012, the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge was established and encompasses parts of McHenry County.


Woodstock Opera House

McHenry County has an active art and theater scene. The historic Woodstock Opera House and Crystal Lake's Raue Center for the Arts both provide exceptional programs. In addition, Algonquin is noted for its Public Art Program, which showcases artwork year-round throughout the community. The county is also ideal for photography and filming. Much of the filming for the 1993 movie Groundhog Day took place in Woodstock.

There are also several important points of interest in the county including the Illinois Railway Museum and McHenry County Historical Museum in Union, the Old McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, and a variety of historical homes including the Orson Rogers House, George Stickney House, Charles H. Hibbard House, the Terwilliger House, the Count's House, and the Dole Mansion.

Throughout the year are a variety of festivals throughout the county, the centerpiece of which is the McHenry County Fair, occurring during a week in August in Woodstock. Many towns also have their own festivals throughout the year. Some of the most notable ones are the Ground Hog Days and the Great Lake Steelpan Festival in Woodstock, Fall Fest in Huntley, the Summer Sunset Festival in Lake in the Hills, the Lakeside Festival in Crystal Lake, Milk Days in Harvard, Settler's Days in Marengo, Cary Days in Cary, Founders Days in Algonquin, and Fiesta Days in McHenry.


Major highways[edit]

Several Federal and state highways run through McHenry County, including U.S. Highway 20, U.S. Highway 14, U.S. Highway 12, Illinois Route 22, Illinois Route 23, Illinois Route 173, Illinois Route 120, Illinois Route 176, Illinois Route 47, Illinois Route 31, and Illinois Route 62. Highly traveled county highways include Randall Road, Algonquin Road, Rakow Road, and Walkup Road.

McHenry County was the most populous county in the United States without direct access to an Interstate Highway within its borders. As a result, residents usually used the nearby Interstate 90 (the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway), via interchanges in neighboring Kane County. But a new interchange is now completed at I-90 and Illinois Route 23, which provides McHenry County with direct access to the interstate highway system.

Interstate 94 lies to the east of McHenry County in Lake County, Illinois.

Mass transportation[edit]

McHenry County is served by Metra Rail, which provides daily commuter service to and from downtown Chicago. There are seven stations in the county, all of them located along the Union Pacific/Northwest Line. The county is also served by Pace, which provides five fixed bus routes (550, 806, 807, 808, and 809), and MCRide Dial-A-Ride transit service operated by Pace and First Transit.


Lake in the Hills Airport offers general aviation service, as do Dacy Airport and Galt Airport, in the northern part of the county. Chicago-O'Hare International Airport is approximately 30 to 40 miles (48 to 64 km) from the county, while Milwaukee's Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is approximately 50 to 60 miles (80 to 97 km) away. Chicago Rockford International Airport, a busy cargo airport with limited, scheduled passenger service is located approximately 42 miles (68 km) west of the central part of the county (Woodstock).


McHenry County is entirely within the scope of the Chicago media market and the majority of the county relies primarily on Chicago television stations, radio stations, and newspapers for the source of its news and information. Certain sections of the county, particularly the rural far northern and far western parts, are also within the scope of the Milwaukee and Rockford media markets, respectively.

The county has an FM radio station, WZSR (Star 105.5 FM), which plays mostly adult contemporary and pop music. WZSR is based out of Crystal Lake.

The Northwest Herald, with a circulation of approximately 21,000,[28] is the county's primary newspaper, serving the greater McHenry County area, and printed and published in Crystal Lake.

Lake and McHenry County Scanner, launched in 2012 by Sam Borcia, is a local digital newspaper which covers McHenry County and nearby Lake County, Illinois.[29]

The county is also served by the larger Chicago newspapers Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and the suburban-focused newspaper The Daily Herald.

McHenry County Living, a bimonthly lifestyle magazine serving the county, reaches tens of thousands of area residents and businesses.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Day in McHenry County History - McHenry County Historical Society and Museum". Archived from the original on May 23, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  2. ^ "Index of /programs-surveys/decennial/2020/data/01-Redistricting_File--PL_94-171/Illinois". Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Woodstock, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 24, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  11. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  13. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  14. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  15. ^ "New CDPs for Review in the PSAP Verification Phase". United States Census Bureau. January 24, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  16. ^ "McHenry County Sheriff". Archived from the original on October 30, 2016. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  17. ^ a b The Political Graveyard; McHenry County, Illinois Archived 2012-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "mcvote". Archived from the original on December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  19. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on March 23, 2018. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  20. ^ "Illinois Report Card". Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  21. ^ "Alden-Hebron School District #19". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  22. ^ "Northeastern Athletic Conference". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  23. ^ "Harvard CUSD 50".
  24. ^ "Johnsburg District 12". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  25. ^ "Fast Facts - Marian Catholic Central". Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  26. ^ Keeperman, Brittany (March 3, 2018). "McHenry County Mining, Gravel Pits a Controversial Part of Local Economy". Northwest Herald. Archived from the original on March 11, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  27. ^ "McHenry County Illinois". Archived from the original on December 28, 2017. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  28. ^ "Northwest Herald Circulation Plunges - McHenry County Blog". Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  29. ^ "About Us". Lake and McHenry County Scanner. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  • Forstall, Richard L. (editor) (1996). Population of states and counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990 : from the twenty-one decennial censuses. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. ISBN 0-934213-48-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Dupré, D.H. and D.M. Robertson. (2004). Water quality of Nippersink Creek and Wonder Lake, McHenry County, Illinois, 1994-2001 [Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5085]. Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°19′N 88°27′W / 42.32°N 88.45°W / 42.32; -88.45