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Coordinates: 41°16′N 88°53′W / 41.267, -88.883

LaSalle County, Illinois
LaSalle County Courthouse (8745757340).jpg
LaSalle County Courthouse
Map of Illinois highlighting LaSalle County
Location in the state of Illinois
Map of the U.S. highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location in the U.S.
Founded January 15, 1831
Named for René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
Seat Ottawa
Largest city Ottawa
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,148.04 sq mi (2,973 km²)
1,134.92 sq mi (2,939 km²)
13.12 sq mi (34 km²), 1.14%
 - (2010)
 - Density

98.3/sq mi (38/km²)
Congressional district 11th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Footnotes: [1][2]

LaSalle County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 113,924, which is an increase of 2.2% from 111,509 in 2000.[3] Its county seat and largest city is Ottawa.[4]

LaSalle County is part of the Ottawa–Peru, IL Micropolitan Statistical Area. LaSalle County borders Woodford, Marshall, Putnam, Bureau, Livingston, Lee, DeKalb, Kendall, and Grundy counties. Though LaSalle County is in the Chicago media market, it retains a unique identity with a mix of pleasant river towns, and vast expanses of farmland. The county is at the intersection of the Chicago, Peoria, Quad Cities and Rockford television markets, with all four regions advertising (and businesses from the respective regions) and having a strong influence on the area such that despite the county's short distance from Chicago, approximately 60 miles (97 km). The county is part of the far southwestern reaches of the Chicago metropolitan area, and it is also part of the Fox Valley subregion and the larger Northern Illinois region.


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 1,148.04 square miles (2,973.4 km2), of which 1,134.92 square miles (2,939.4 km2) (or 98.86%) is land and 13.12 square miles (34.0 km2) (or 1.14%) is water.[5]

Adjacent counties[]

LaSalle County, Illinois, is one of the few counties in the United States to border as many as nine counties. Illinois has two such counties—LaSalle and Pike. LaSalle County is the second-largest county by land area in the state of Illinois after McLean County.

Many of the residents of LaSalle County live in cities and towns along the Illinois River. It is the main population core, with some exceptions, including Streator to the south of the county. Large cities along the river include Ottawa, LaSalle, Peru, and Marseilles. The regions north and south of the Illinois River are mostly agricultural, including the Fox River portion of the county, and have few large towns.


Climate chart for Ottawa, Illinois
temperatures in °Cprecipitation totals in mm
source: The Weather Channel[6]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Ottawa have ranged from a low of 12 °F (−11 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −25 °F (−31.7 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 112 °F (44 °C) was recorded in July 1936. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.32 inches (34 mm) in February to 4.13 inches (105 mm) in June.[6]


LaSalle County was formed on January 15, 1831 out of Tazewell and Putnam Counties. It is named for the early French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. La Salle was the first European recorded as entering the area. He traveled the Mississippi River upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the land for France, or rather as a possession of King Louis XIV of France and named it Louisiana. In 1680, he and two other French traders built Fort Crevecoeur on the Illinois River in present-day Tazewell County, and in 1662, the Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock in present-day LaSalle County. By 1857, the county was served by the daily arrivals of two trains of the Illinois Central Railroad.

As William D. Boyce reportedly founded the Boy Scouts of America in Ottawa, the Council is named for him. He and two other founders established the BSA, but Boyce is given the sole credit since his faction of the BSA adopted the other two competing factions' elements within the organization. LaSalle County is within what is called the Lowaneu Region of the W.D. Boyce Council.

The Tri-County Area of DeKalb, LaSalle, and Kendall Counties have been influential in terms of their political, sports, multimedia, industry, and technology. DeKalb County was the birthplace of plant hybridization (DeKalb, DeKalb Agricultural), the hot-air hand dryer (Sandwich, Sahara-Pak), and is the home of supermodel Cindy Crawford, at least 6 MLB players, two NFL coaches, and three NFL players. LaSalle County was home to the Westclox Company for many years, was the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and was the home to the discoverer of Pluto, as well as a Wild West figure, multiple published authors, a legendary NCAA athletic director and coach, and multiple political figures. Kendall County is the home to a seminal piece of 20th Century architecture, the birthplace of the Harvester Reaper, (as well as the precursor to the International Harvester Company), the plastic tackle box and plastic-injection molding, and is the home of multiple athletes, politicians, and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. DeKalb, LaSalle, and Kendall Counties have all been featured in major films, either having been written by residents or former residents, having been filmed in the communities, or both.

Ottawa was the first site of the famous Lincoln–Douglas debates on August 21, 1858. The community has a strong association with the 16th President, and elements of the downtown area of the city retain much mid-19th century architecture. People in LaSalle County were predominantly abolitionist in attitude, and many Underground Railroad sites were maintained in the county prior to the American Civil War.

Utica (or the official name of North Utica) is considered the gateway to the Starved Rock area. Visiting three parks provides a full experience of the area. Starved Rock State Park, (south of Utica on Illinois Route 178), is the crown jewel. Matthiessen State Park (south of Starved Rock on Ill 178) has many of the same features of Starved Rock, but is smaller, and faces the Vermilion River to the west. Buffalo Rock State Park (east of Utica, and west of Naplate/Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road) has an enclosure which features American bison, as well as the mound sculpture complex, known as the Effigy Tumuli. The village is most well known for the April 20, 2004 tornado, which ripped through the downtown and killed nine people.


2000 census age pyramid for LaSalle County

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 9,348
1850 17,815 90.6%
1860 48,332 171.3%
1870 60,792 25.8%
1880 70,403 15.8%
1890 80,798 14.8%
1900 87,776 8.6%
1910 90,132 2.7%
1920 92,925 3.1%
1930 97,695 5.1%
1940 97,801 0.1%
1950 100,610 2.9%
1960 110,800 10.1%
1970 111,409 0.5%
1980 112,003 0.5%
1990 106,913 −4.5%
2000 111,509 4.3%
2010 113,924 2.2%
Est. 2012 112,973 1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
2012 Estimate[9]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 111,509 people, 43,417 households, and 29,827 families residing in the county. The population density was 98 people per square mile (38/km²). There were 46,438 housing units at an average density of 41 per square mile (16/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.97% White, 1.55% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.71% from other races, and 1.05% from two or more races. 5.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 25.8% were of German, 12.7% Irish, 8.8% Italian, 7.6% American, 7.3% English and 7.3% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.7% spoke English and 3.6% Spanish as their first language.

There were 43,417 households out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.70% were married couples living together, 9.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.30% were non-families. 27.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.20% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 28.00% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 16.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 97.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,308, and the median income for a family was $49,533. Males had a median income of $39,256 versus $22,097 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,185. About 6.90% of families and 9.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.10% of those under age 18 and 6.20% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns[]


LaSalle County is divided into thirty-seven townships:

  • Adams
  • Allen
  • Brookfield
  • Bruce
  • Dayton
  • Deer Park
  • Dimmick
  • Eagle
  • Earl
  • Eden
  • Fall River
  • Farm Ridge
  • Freedom
  • Grand Rapids
  • Groveland
  • Hope
  • LaSalle
  • Manlius
  • Mendota
  • Meriden
  • Miller
  • Mission
  • Northville
  • Ophir
  • Osage
  • Ottawa
  • Otter Creek
  • Peru
  • Richland
  • Rutland
  • Serena
  • South Ottawa
  • Troy Grove
  • Utica
  • Vermilion
  • Wallace
  • Waltham


School districts[]

Secondary schools[]


  • Earlville High School (CUSD 9), also has district area in DeKalb and Lee Counties
  • LaSalle-Peru High School, LaSalle
  • Leland High School, Leland, also has district area in DeKalb County
  • Mendota Township High School, Mendota, also has district area in Bureau and Lee Counties
  • Newark Community High School, located within Kendall County, but serves Mission Township
  • Ottawa Township High School, Ottawa
  • Sandwich Community High School (CUSD 430), located within DeKalb County, but serves Northville Township
  • Seneca High School
  • Serena High School (CUSD 2)
  • Somonauk High School, located within DeKalb County, but serves Northville and Adams Townships
  • Streator Township High School, Streator
  • Woodland High School, Streator


  • Marquette High School, Ottawa
  • St. Bede Academy, Peru

Colleges and universities[]

  • Illinois Valley Community College, Oglesby and Ottawa




  • Earlville Airport, closed in 2010
  • Illinois Valley Regional Airport, Peru

Major highways[]

  • I-39.svg Interstate 39
  • I-80.svg Interstate 80
  • US 6.svg U.S. Highway 6
  • US 34.svg U.S. Highway 34
  • US 51.svg U.S. Highway 51
  • US 52.svg U.S. Highway 52
  • Illinois 17.svg Illinois Route 17
  • Illinois 18.svg Illinois Route 18
  • Illinois 23.svg Illinois Route 23
  • Illinois 71.svg Illinois Route 71
  • Illinois 170.svg Illinois Route 170
  • Illinois 178.svg Illinois Route 178
  • Illinois 251.svg Illinois Route 251
  • Illinois 351.svg Illinois Route 351


  • LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station, Ottawa

Election history[]

  • 1960 presidential election- Republican Richard Nixon
  • 1964 presidential election- Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 1968 presidential election- Republican Richard Nixon
  • 1972 presidential election- Republican Richard Nixon
  • 1976 presidential election- Republican Gerald Ford
  • 1980 presidential election- Republican Ronald Reagan
  • 1984 presidential election- Republican Ronald Reagan
  • 1988 presidential election- Democrat Michael Dukakis
  • 1992 presidential election- Democrat Bill Clinton
  • 1996 presidential election- Democrat Bill Clinton
  • 2000 presidential election- Democrat Al Gore
  • 2004 presidential election- Republican George W. Bush
  • 2008 presidential election- Democrat Barack Obama
  • 2012 presidential election- Republican Mitt Romney


Effigy Tumuli at Buffalo Rock State Park; Streator Public Library building; Gen. W.H.L. Wallace window at Christ Episcopal Church, Ottawa; Fox River aqueduct; Vermilion River; and Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall, Marseilles.

Notable people[]

  • Bill Brown, (Mendota) former running back for the Minnesota Vikings
  • Herbert Crisler, (Earlville) head football coach at the University of Michigan (1938–1947), namesake of the school's basketball stadium, and is credited for created the helmet design for the Michigan football team
  • Doug Dieken, (rural Streator) former tackle with the Cleveland Browns (1971-1984); color commentary for Browns radio broadcasts
  • J.A. Happ, (Peru) current pitcher for Toronto Blue Jays, former pitcher for World Series Champions Philadelphia Phillies
  • Wild Bill Hickok, (Troy Grove) noted historical Western Figure
  • Helen Hokinson, (Mendota) cartoonist for The New Yorker
  • Silas Johnson, (Sheridan) credited as the last pitcher to strike out Herman "Babe" Ruth; played for the Cincinnati Reds
  • Harry Kelly, (Ottawa) 39th governor of Michigan
  • Terrence Malick, (Ottawa) film director, known for Badlands and The Thin Red Line; born in Ottawa
  • Bob McGrath, (Ottawa), Sesame Street performer
  • Clarence E. Mulford, (Streator) wrote the "Hopalong Cassidy" cowboy novels
  • Cleng Peerson, established the community of Norway
  • Edward H. Plumb, (Streator) film composer, worked with Walt Disney on Fantasia; nominated four times for an Academy Award
  • Maud Powell, (Peru) violinist
  • Adam Shabala, (Streator) former outfielder for the San Francisco Giants
  • Aaron Shea, (Ottawa) player for the Cleveland Browns
  • Clyde Tombaugh, (Streator) astronomer, discovered Pluto
  • W.H.L. Wallace, (Ottawa) Brigadier General
  • Walt Willey, (Ottawa) actor, known for "All My Children
  • Gary K. Wolf, (Earlville) author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, adopted into the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
  • Clay Zavada, (Streator) pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in LaSalle County, Illinois
  • Sandwich Fault Zone


  1. ^ a b "La Salle County, Illinois - Fact Sheet". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. 2000. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  2. ^ USGS GNIS: LaSalle County
  3. ^ "LaSalle County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  6. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Ottawa, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  7. ^ White, Jesse. Origin and Evolution of Illinois Counties. State of Illinois, March 2010. [1]
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved July 27, 2013. 


  • 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. 

External links[]

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