Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
With the fall season upon us, it’s hoped that road construction will soon be over. Our roads grow wider with more stop signs and stop lights. Years ago there were few stop lights. Even the stop signs were few and far between.
Over the years since the first Hoffman Estates residents moved in in Dec. 1956, one of the most dramatically changed roads has been Roselle Road. Originally opened in 1851, it only went from Central Road to Bode Road but over the years it would continue north and south for travel to Palatine and Roselle.
In 1956 there were no stop lights in town. Stop signs were used at major intersections with Golf and Higgins Roads. Higgins Road traffic didn’t stop at Roselle Road. If you traveled south on Roselle Road from Algonquin Road, you had no lights or stop signs. It worked well when you had to get up a good head of steam to get up the hill on a snowy day. In 1965 when I moved here, coming up that hill from Hillcrest Blvd. was always a challenge in the winter. Now we have stop lights at Central, Hillcrest and State Parkway. On bad snowy days you still slip and slide as you start up from each light. Once up the hill to Golf Road and Higgins Road and Bode Road you find more stop lights. Scooting around town is a little slower in 2015. (Old Higgins Road as it looks today is to the right.)
The horse and buggy days are over but sometimes the time it takes to travel from one place to another is equal to the days of the 1840s. Recently, improvements to Bode Road (correctly pronounced Bow Dee) have been most welcome. This is the oldest road in the area, being built in 1840. Its original name was the Chicago-Elgin Road. This information was found in the “Early Schaumburg Township Roadways from maps 1842-1970 and comments” at the Schaumburg Township District Library Local History collection. It’s very interesting reading. Irving Park Road or Rt. 19 was also known as the Chicago & Elgin Road but that was on a 1904 map. Bode Road was laid out in the early 1840s as the original Chicago-Elgin Road. How could it have gone to either town when it now ends at Roselle Rd at the east end and Route 59 at the west end?
On early 1850s road maps in the library’s collection, you can make out the road extending beyond what is now the end of Bode Road at Rt. 59. This would have been the connection to Elgin. At the east end of Bode Road at Higgins Road, early aerial photos of Hoffman Estates under development show the east end of Bode Road slightly turning north as it intersects with Roselle Road. That early 1850s map shows a road that connects to Higgins Road but does not show the road names. This would be the connection to Chicago by traveling along Higgins to the city.
Those who traveled these roads back in the 1850s with horse-drawn wagons filled with farm produce and supplies for their farms could never imagine that their farms would disappear to be replaced by what are now known at the “Burbs”. We travel these roads today hoping that additional widening, paving and repairing will only improve the commute to a faster pace than the horse and buggy days.
Hoffman Estates Village Historian