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  • History of Mendota, IL History of Mendota, IL

    Breaking of the Prairie

    Mendota is an American Indian word meaning "Crossing of Trails." It came into being because of a meeting of railroads. The year was 1853 and from that date until well into the 20th Century, the iron horse that rode on rails dominated Mendota's development.

    The Passenger House, a combination depot and hotel, was built the first year, and was a place for changing trains to go from Chicago to St. Louis. The Illinois Central was the first chartered railroad meeting the Chicago Burlington and Quincy and the Milwaukee railroad right here in Mendota.

    When it was burned in 1895, the railroad built Union Depot, a larger, more impressive building to serve this multi-purpose of hotel, restaurant and ticket office.

    Every office holder stopped in Mendota to deliver a mighty speech before assembled travelers and townspeople, always in front of the Union Depot.

    The town of Mendota was incorporated in 1853, and some of the early industries were Mother Hubbard washboards, and Schaller and Goebel buggies and carriages. It was also the home of farm equipment and Extra Pale beer. Between 1865 and 1887 highstyle pump organs were made in Mendota. Early settlers farmed the fertile land and the railroad brought both agriculture equipment and goods to the new settlers. the community's first hospital was erected in 1918 and served the community until 1951 when the present Mendota Community Hospital opened its doors.

    Although Mendota is no longer a railroad town, it still houses railroad retirees, and a strong interest in railroading. The strength of Mendota, as always, rests with its people: people who care and reflect the beliefs of their forefathers in the community.