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Fox River Grove is a village in Cuba Township, Lake County and Algonquin Township, McHenry County, Illinois, United States. The population was 4,854 at the 2010 census.
Pioneers built homesteads in the Fox River Valley between 1830 and 1860. They were originally attracted to the area that would become Fox River Grove for its beautiful scenery, abundance of clear water and opportunity for hydroelectric power provided by the Fox River.
The Ojibwe people continued to winter in the region into the 1860s.
In 1850, Frank Opatrny purchased 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land on the southern shore of the Fox River. The area gained a reputation with city dwellers as a vacation spot. Chicagoans were transported by livery bus from the Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad station in neighboring. In 1899, Frank's son Eman Opatrny bought the land from his father, converting the family land into a tourist destination, the Fox River Picnic Grove which featured several cottages and a restaurant along a stretch of beach on the Fox River. In 1902, Opatrny built the Castle Pavilion, a luxury hotel which incorporated windows from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Opatrny soon after bought approximately 100 additional acres in 1905 and erected several new facilities, including six bars, shooting and photo galleries, and a racetrack.
In 1905, the Norge Ski Club bought some land and built a ski jump at Fox River Grove. The Norge Ski Club is the oldest continuously open ski club in the United States. The Norge Ski Club is also home to the Windy City Balloon Port, which offers hot air balloon tours of the area.
In 1919, the village of Fox River Grove incorporated becoming the ninth Village in McHenry County. In the same year Louis Cernocky, Sr., established Louis's Place, a restaurant and bar frequented by many prominent Chicago residents. Cernocky added Louis' Crystal Ballroom, located behind the restaurant, in 1922.
In 1931, Theodore Bettendorff began work on what would come to be known as Castle Vianden, which is located along what is now U.S. Route 14. By 1960, the castle, which was open to visitors, had eight towers, a guard room, bugle tower, castle yard, enclosed sun porch, modern kitchen, garage, dungeon, and a wishing well. Bettendorff continued to add to his castle until his death in 1967. During the 1970s, the castle was rented out as a honeymoon retreat. The castle remains a private residence.
In 1942, the Picnic Grove land was purchased by Louis, Jr., and Clara Cernocky. Louis was a successful local businessman and Clara was the daughter of Eman Opatrny. Dubbed "40 Acres of Paradise" by Cernocky, the Picnic Grove remained a popular vacation destination for approximately 20 years before it fell into disarray.
In 1945, Fox River Grove established the first VFW post in McHenry County.
After changing hands several times, in 1994 the Village of Fox River Grove obtained a grant to acquire 40 acres (160,000 m2) along the river and named the property Picnic Grove Park. The rest of the land was developed into what is now the Picnic Grove subdivision. Remnants of the Fox River Picnic Grove can still be seen in the park.
On October 25, 1995, a Metra passenger train, running express towards Chicago, collided with a Cary-Grove High School school bus, killing seven high school students. The accident brought reform and increased safety standards nationwide for signalled rail crossings located very near street and highway intersections which are regulated by traffic signals, also known as interconnected crossings.
Fox River Grove is located primarily in McHenry County and partially in Lake County, Illinois, along U.S. Route 14, 42 miles (68 km) northwest of downtown Chicago. It is situated on the south bank of the Fox River, which flows southwest to the Illinois River. The village of Cary is located on the north side of the river, connected to Fox River Grove by a bridge on Route 14.
According to the 2010 census, Fox River Grove has a total area of 1.78 square miles (4.61 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,862 people, 1,677 households, and 1,294 families residing in the village. The population density was 2,929.6 people per square mile (1,130.9/km²). There were 1,734 housing units at an average density of 1,044.8 per square mile (403.3/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 95.91% White, 0.68% African American, 0.12% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 1.13% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.83% of the population.
There were 1,677 households out of which 45.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.7% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.8% were non-families. 17.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.34.
In the village, the population was spread out with 31.7% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 35.0% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.9 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $66,469, and the median income for a family was $78,847. Males had a median income of $59,306 versus $28,643 for females. The per capita income for the village was $28,870. About 5.2% of families and 7.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.6% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.
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