McHENRY – A car coming over the old Pearl Street bridge. Petersen Farm decades ago. Routes 31 and 120 circa 1920.
The scenes are among photographs featured in a local history book that writer Sandra Landen Machaj will debut Saturday at Fiesta Days. She spent a year pitching, researching and producing the book for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series.
“There have been a lot of old-time pictures of McHenry published,” she said. “I tried to get some that are different.”
One of her favorites is Edward Simonson’s family around a statute that originally was supposed to be a pillar for The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The statue was delivered with a broken toe, so Simonson, who worked at the museum, had it trucked to his cottage on McCullom Lake, where it stood from 1925 to 1956.
McHenry County Historical Society administrator Nancy Fike said she hoped that the pictorial history, and similar ones published about McHenry County and Woodstock, sparked interest in local history.
“For most people, that’s what they want to read and see. It piques their interest and maybe they’ll dig a little deeper,” she said, adding the McHenry County Historical Society Museum has a 13-pound book on the county in the 1900s.
Machaj, who splits her time between McCullom Lake and West Chicago, said she appreciated how many McHenry natives remained or returned to the area.
“So many people are descendants of the original people who settled here, many who never left here or who left here and came back,” she said.
The book’s nine chapters explore the area’s beginnings, life on the Fox River, the police and fire departments’ development, businesses, sports and schools. The last chapter includes shots of the skate park and the Riverwalk project.
She’ll sign and sell copies of her book from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday during the arts and crafts show at Veteran’s Memorial Park, 3400 W. Pearl St., McHenry. The 128-page book costs $19.99 and will be available in bookstores starting Monday.