Fox River Grove, Illinois

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Fox River Grove is a village in the Cuba Township of Lake County and the Algonquin Township of McHenry County, Illinois, United States. The population was 4,862 at the 2000 census.



Into the 1860’s the Fox River Grove region was chosen by the Ojibwa Indians for their winter home.

In 1869 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 an ideal vacation spot. In 1900 Frank's son Eman Opatrny bought the land from his father converting the family land into a tourist destination the Fox River Picnic Grove. In 1902 Opatrny added a luxury hotel, Castle Pavilion, which featured windows from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

In 1905 the Norge Ski Club purchased land in Fox River Grove and erected a ski jump. 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, whose hot air balloons float along the Fox River.

In 1919 the town of Fox River Grove incorporated. In the same year Louis Cernocky, Sr. established Louis's Place, a Bohemian restaurant and bar. In 1922 Cernocky built Louis' Crystal Ballroom behind the restaurant which was known to be frequented by many prominent Chicago residents.

In 1931 Theodore Bettendorff began work on what would come to be known as Castle Vianden which is located along what is now Route 14. By 1960 the castle 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. He was proud of his achievement, and he welcomed visitors. He died in 1967, and the property was purchased by new owners in 1968. During the 1970s, the castle was rented out as a honeymoon retreat. Today, it is a private home, primarily obscured by trees, and the land is closed to visitors.

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. The Picnic Grove remained a popular vacation destination for approximately 20 years before it fell into disarray.

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 was named the Picnic Grove Park. The rest of the land was to be developed into what is now the Picnic Grove Subdivision. Remnants of the Fox River Picnic Grove can still be seen in the park.

Fox River Grove Level Crossing Accident

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 of signalled rail crossings located very near street and highway intersections which are regulated by traffic signals, also known as interconnected crossings.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.8 square miles (4.6 km²), of which, 1.7 square miles (4.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (5.68%) is water.

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