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Settled in 1834, Rockford got its name from the shallow ford in the Rock River used as a crossing by the Galena-Chicago Stagecoach Line. City founders were African American slave Lewis Lemon, his master Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake who built a sawmill near the ford. Lemon later bought his freedom but stayed in the area as a truck farmer. Many different ethnic groups settled the region and that "melting pot" heritage can be seen throughout Rockford. Nicknamed the "City of Gardens," Rockford enjoys more than 6,000 acres of neighborhood parks scattered around the city's winding streets. Rockford also boasts the Anderson Japanese Gardens, ...

Settled in 1834, Rockford got its name from the shallow ford in the Rock River used as a crossing by the Galena-Chicago Stagecoach Line. City founders were African American slave Lewis Lemon, his master Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake who built a sawmill near the ford. Lemon later bought his freedom but stayed in the area as a truck farmer. Many different ethnic groups settled the region and that "melting pot" heritage can be seen throughout Rockford. Nicknamed the "City of Gardens," Rockford enjoys more than 6,000 acres of neighborhood parks scattered around the city's winding streets. Rockford also boasts the Anderson Japanese Gardens, one of the top Japanese gardens in North America. With about 13 formal acres, the Japanese Gardens contain a guest house, tea house, gazebo, stone sculptures, viewing house and decorative bridges, along with a waterfall made of 700 tons of boulders. Located just north of downtown, the Burpee Museum of Natural History is home to Jane, the world's best preserved and most complete juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex. The 66-million-year-old fossilized skeleton was discovered in 2001 by a Burpee Museum team who saw her toe and leg bones sticking up from a dry creek bank in Hell Creek, Montana.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Rockford was built along the Rock River, midway between Chicago and Galena, in northern Illinois. Named for the place where wagons would cross, or ford, the Rock River.
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring to enjoy blooming crabapples, magnolias, lilacs, tulips, daffodils and much more