Onarga, Illinois

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Onarga is a village in Onarga Township, Iroquois County, Illinois, United States. The population was 1,438 at the 2000 census.



Onarga is located at 40°42′56″N 88°0′25″W / 40.71556°N 88.00694°W / 40.71556; -88.00694 (40.715432, -88.006928)[2]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km²), all of it land.


Onarga has a continental climate, with four distinct seasons. Onarga experiences cold winters, with frequent snowfall and temperatures that sometimes plunge to -20°F or colder. Average January high temperatures are generally in the 20s. Record amounts of snowfall for the area were measured in the Winter of 2007-08.  Spring is mild, and often rainy, windy, and cloudy with high temperatures ranging from the 50s to 80s. Summers are hot and humid, generally with brief periods of intense thunderstorm and rainfall. Average summer highs are usually in the mid 80s. Falls are crisp and drier, and first killing frosts generally come in October. Onarga's typical summer weather is highly conducive to growing corn and soybeans, which dominate the rural landscape. On average, 40 inches of precipitation per year fall at Onarga.


Rural Onarga is primarily gently rolling farmland, dotted with dense oak and hickory groves, which are generally near water, such and creeks and low lying areas. The town itself boasts some spectacular examples of Victorian architecture, and the residents take great pride in the presentation and restoration of these homes. Visitors generally remark that for a small community, Onarga has a tremendous amount of historical and beautiful homes.


Onarga has a rich and celebrated history for a small town. It was originally laid out in the mid-19th century alongside the development of the railroad from Chicago. Because of its close proximity to Spring Creek, Onarga was one of the first settled areas of Iroquois County. The town grew rapidly but the population began to level off by the mid-20th century and now maintains fairly minimal population growth. Onarga is often associated with its tree and shrub nurseries that have been in business for over 100 years, earning Onarga the nickname, "The Nursery Capital of the Midwest."  Many fields surrounding the town bear rows of trees and bushes rather than corn and soybeans, which are otherwise ubiquitous throughout the region. The prosperous nursery businesses have led to a great amount of ethnic diversity in Onarga, as many Mexican and Mexican-American migrant workers have chosen to maintain roots in the community.

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