Spring Valley, Illinois

For the unincorporated community in Adams County, see Spring Valley, Adams County, Illinois.
Spring Valley
Country United States
State Illinois
County Bureau
Township Hall
Coordinates 41°19′38″N 89°12′3″W / 41.32722°N 89.20083°W / 41.32722; -89.20083Coordinates: 41°19′38″N 89°12′3″W / 41.32722°N 89.20083°W / 41.32722; -89.20083
Area 7.47 sq mi (19 km2)
 - land 7.37 sq mi (19 km2)
 - water 0.10 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 5,558 (2000)
Density 1,389.3/sq mi (536/km2)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61362
Area code 815
Location of Spring Valley within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Spring Valley, Illinois

Spring Valley is a city situated on the Illinois River in Bureau County, Illinois. The population was 5,398 at the 2000 census, and 5,558 in 2010. It is part of the OttawaStreator Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Spring Valley is located at 41°19′38″N 89°12′3″W / 41.32722°N 89.20083°W / 41.32722; -89.20083 (41.327154, -89.200752).[1]

According to the 2010 census, Spring Valley has a total area of 7.468 square miles (19.34 km2), of which 7.37 square miles (19.09 km2) (or 98.69%) is land and 0.098 square miles (0.25 km2) (or 1.31%) is water.[2]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20155,314[3]−4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[4]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 5,398 people, 2,158 households, and 1,467 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,389.3 people per square mile (535.8/km²). There were 2,339 housing units at an average density of 602.0 per square mile (232.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.74% White, 0.76% African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 1.70% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.65% of the population.

There were 24,158 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.4% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.0% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 19.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,775, and the median income for a family was $50,348. Males had a median income of $56,774.85 versus $12,303.95 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,467.67. About 3.2% of families and 6.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.9% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.


Spring Valley lies in the valley of Spring Creek. The hills on either side of this valley were, and are to some extent today, laced with springs that still feed Spring Creek.

There were numerous springs in the town itself. One in the vicinity of the once Hunter-Doherty Lumber yard was so large and fast-flowing that the Indians had an encampment there. Remains of this encampment were visible in the early days of the town. There was a large spring that flowed from the side of the hill between East St. Paul Street and East Devlin Street, down a gully into Spring Creek. Springs still feed the pond of water at the foot of Number One slag dump on East St. Paul Street. This area is now the "Coal Mine Park" owned by Spring Valley PRIDE. The first drinking water supply was piped from large springs on North Sixth Street.

So, with the springs and valleys, it was easy to conceive the name Spring Valley. There is a record that the Indians called this territory, "The Valley of the Springs."

The fact that Spring Valley is located at the point in the river valley where the high bluffs, which contains the famous stream, are closer together than anywhere else in the grain belt and that there is a minimum flood plain has made this point most attractive for the location of grain elevators. It has become the fulcrum of the grain handling industry of the upper section of the Illinois River.


Map of Persons per Square Mile


Spring Valley was founded in 1884 in the heart of the coal fields of Northern Illinois for the express purpose of mining of coal. The building of Spring Valley was the enterprise of Henry J. Miller, one of the first settlers of this area, and his son-in-law, Charles J. Devlin. They conceived the idea of establishing a coal metropolis, in the Valley and on the slopes of the bluffs bordering Spring Creek, in the southeastern corner of Bureau County. They acquired the mineral rights of 5,000 acres (20 km2) and purchased 500 acres (2.0 km2) on which to build the town. They secured the financial aid and cooperation of coal and railroad capitalists, E.N. Saunders of St. Paul, Minnesota, a director of the Chicago and North Western railroad, Mr. Taylor of What Cheer, Iowa, and William L. Scott of Erie, Pennsylvania. Scott was a United States Senator from Pennsylvania during the administration of President Grover Cleveland. Most of these men are remembered in the name of the streets of the town.[6]

The Route 89 Bridge in Spring Valley, Illinois

Two companies were formed, the Spring Valley Coal Company and the Spring Valley Townsite Co. Backed by the almost unlimited resources of the coal barons, these two companies spent over $212 million in less than four years in the building of the town.

The boring of the mine commenced in 1884 and the town surveyed and platted. Spring Valley did not grow from a crossroads country store or framehouse, it was planned with the hope it would grow to be a large city. Space was set aside for churches, schools and public buildings and broad streets were laid out. St. Paul Street became one of the widest streets in the state and in 1984 made even wider. In the residential section of the city property line, lies 25 feet (7.6 m) from curb and ample room for expansion.

Spring Valley was a boom town, its growth was so rapid that it was called the "Magic City." In less than four years, by 1888, the Chicago North Western railroad had laid a line from DeKalb, Illinois, four mines had been sunk and the town had 3,000 people.

Violent strikes

There were large-scale violent strikes in the late 1880s.[7] Italian coal miners in the 1890s brought in anarchism, and the violence escalated during the depression of 1893-96. The strikes were failures but the angry miners voted for the Populist ticket in 1894.[8]

In August 1895, Spring Valley experienced the state's most destructive race riot to date, out of which came major legislation prohibiting companies from bringing in squads of men to replace existing workers. Tension between mine owners and union agitators led to a lockout in 1889. Many Italian immigrants arrived to cross the picket lines but eventually staged their own strike in 1894, encouraging the industry to bring in African Americans to break the strike. Relations between the races rapidly deteriorated, leading to the riot that ended the use of black strike breakers. Governor John Peter Altgeld's response to the August 4 attack on the black community by displaced Italian miners ultimately revealed his support of fellow immigrants over African Americans.[9] Another riot erupted in 1895 when recent Polish, Lithuanian, Italian, and Belgian immigrants raided the black section of town and burned, looted, and injured 14 blacks. Black victims of the riot took their attackers to court and used their status as citizens to win the case against the new immigrants.[10]

Spring Valley remained a brawling, boisterous place and until the competition from cheaper Southern Illinois coal fields forced the mine to close in late 1927.


Spring Valley like every other coal town came to know almost every nationality in Europe. These people came from LaSalle, Peru, Braidwood, Braceville and all mining camps of Northern Illinois. The English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and Cornish from the Coal fields of Great Britain, from Northern France and Belgium. Polish, and Germans, Swedes and Lithuanians from opposite shores of the Baltic Sea, Slavish peasants from Central Europe and immigrants from sunny Italy. Many arriving here attired in their native dress tagged and ticketed from their port of entry. The town also developed a black section known as the "Location." In 1905, the Bureau County Republican Newspaper stated that there were 32 distinct nationalities groups in Spring Valley.

The Spring Valley police station

Institutions founded

By 1888, two years after the incorporation of the town, February 8, 1886, two churches, the Congregational and the Immaculate Conception, had been built, two schools erected, the Immaculate Conception Parochial and the Lincoln Public School, which includes a two-year high school course, a newspaper (the Spring Valley Gazette), and a public library.

This library, an institution for which all towns wait many years, was established by the "Knights of Labor", the Coal Miner's Union in 1885 before the town was a year old, before even a city government was formed. This early interest in education culminated in the establishment of two schools believed to be the first of their kind in the state.

The Hall Township High and Vocational School training in shop, carpentry, printing, drafting, cooking, sewing, typing, shorthand, bookkeeping and banking. This school was constructed in 1914.

City government

The city government is aldermanic, with two aldermen to each of four wards, and a mayor, who is elected at large.

Mayor: Walt Marini, elected in 2013

Ward 1: Dan McFadden, Mike Richetta

Ward 2: Chuck Hansen, Tom Nesti

Ward 3: Michael DeAngelo, Walt Marini

Ward 4: Rick Fusinatto, James 'Uda' Taliano

Notable people


  1. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  2. "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  3. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  4. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  5. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. John H. M. Laslett (2000). Colliers Across the Sea: A Comparative Study of Class Formation in Scotland and the American Midwest, 1830-1924. University of Illinois Press. p. 128ff.
  7. Henry Demarest Lloyd, A Strike of Millionaires Against Miners: Or, The Story of Spring Valley. An Open Letter to the Millionaires (1890)
  8. Gianna S. Panofsky, "A View of Two Major Centers of Italian Anarchism in the United States: Spring Valley and Chicago, Illinois." in Italian Ethnics: Their Languages, Literature, and Lives (1987)
  9. Felix L. Armfield, "Fire on the Prairies: The 1895 Spring Valley Race Riot", Journal of Illinois History 2000 3(3): 185-200
  10. Caroline A. Waldron, "'Lynch-Law Must Go!' Race, Citizenship, and the Other in an American Coal Mining Town", Journal of American Ethnic History (2000) 20#12 pp: 50-77 in JSTOR
  11. "Chad Durbin Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  12. "J.A. Happ Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  13. Barakat, Matthew (2013-06-05). "Arab-American scholar Alixa Naff dies at 93". Associated Press. Seattle Times. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
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