Village of Stronghurst

History

In 1887 the Chicago, Santa Fe, and California Railway Company built a line from Kansas City to Chicago through Henderson County establishing several towns, one of which was Stronghurst. Known as the "Magic City," the town arose out of nothing and grew quickly as people wanted to live in a town where the railroad stopped.

Commercial endeavors skyrocketed - three grocery stores, a hat shop, a clothing store, a barber, a blacksmith/machinist, two liveries, a lumberyard, a meat market, a shoemaker, a laundry, a drug store, a photography studio, two hardware stores, a furniture store/undertaker, restaurants, a harness shop, a blacksmith and wagon shop, a jewelry store, three doctors offices, a paint shop, a tin shop, a carpenters shop, implement dealers, a grain elevator, two hotels, two banks, a theater, an opera house, a half-mile racetrack, a city park, a baseball diamond, a drayage service, ice delivery business, and a stockyard that handled more stock than any other point between Kansas City and Chicago.

In 1896 an electric company offered service from 7 to 10 pm each evening warning its customers by flickering the lights when the power would be shut off.  In 1903 Stronghurst made an attempt to remove the county seat to its location. Plans were drawn for an elaborate Victorian two story building, but at the November election the proposition failed by 121 votes.

In 1918 the Hereford Association Pavilion was built and was the site of many top quality livestock sales until it burned in 1923.  Construction of State Highway 94 began in 1924 and was given permission to pass through the village in 1925.  As much a manufacturing town as it was a farming village, Stronghurst boasted several creameries, a novelty and envelope factory, a tank factory, a windmill factory, three cigar factories, a brickyard, and a canning factory that remained in operation until 1933.

Culturally, Stronghurst was noted for the yearly Chatauqua (a caravan of lecturers, artists, musicians, and talent from other countries). Local residents eagerly took part in plays and musicals held at the Opera House. Each year in the village park the IOOF sponsored a huge picnic featuring a carnival with booths, rides, musicians, skits, acrobats, balloon ascension, and lectures. For children this was the highlight of the year.

Stronghurst is located along Illinois Highway 94. It is 70 miles south of the Quad Cities and 20 miles east of Burlington, Iowa. And oh, yes...the Santa Fe Burlington Northern Railroad still runs through the heart of town.

Points of Interest

Henderson County Fairgrounds, located on the south end of Stronghurst, the Henderson County fairgrounds is home to not only the fair but also activities scheduled throughout the year.

Village Park, located in the center of the village, this park has plenty to keep families busy during the day. There is basketball and tennis courts, children's playground equipment, a shelter house, and the most recent addition in 2015, the Dr. Robert Pogue Memorial Spray Park.

Spray Park, the most recent addition to the Village Park is the Spray Park which was built as a memorial to the late Dr. Robert Pogue.

Civil War Cannon, located in the Village Park, through the efforts of George J. Morgan, this huge cannon, weighing eight tons, was procured from the government to be placed in the northwest corner of the park on May 30, 1912. This gift to the George M. Evans Post No. 695 G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), was made possible by Mr. Morgan securing the aid of Congressman J. H. McKinney and Congressman B. F. Marsh. George M. Evans was a member of Company B of the 59th IL volunteers. He enlisted at Olena, IL July 17th, 1861 and was killed in the Battle of Pea Ridge March 7th, 1862, being the first volunteer from Henderson County to fall in the Civil War.

Annual Events

  • Henderson County Fair - Since 1934, a week long celebration held at the county fair grounds. Carnival rides, 4H displays, and evenings packed with racing.  Learn more at Henderson Co Fair

  • Christmas Walk - Talk a stroll through the past with neighbors to kick off the holiday season.

  • 5K Color Run - Great time to get together and support the Family Outreach Community Center.

  • Easter Egg Hunt - Community tradition that packs the Village Park.

  • Henderson County Olde Tyme Farm Show - Enjoy a weekend stepping back in time.  Learn more at Western Illinois Threshers

  • Stronghurst Fall Festival - Day of family fun in September at the Village Park kicking off the Fall season.