Population (2010)

Cordova has few public places where you can enjoy the river. If you are inclined to spend a night, however, they have a bed-and-breakfast in one of the best darn locations along the Upper Miss.

Visitor Information
Your best bet is to contact the library (see below) or the Village Hall during normal business hours (309.654.2620)

In 1837, John Marshall (one of many early residents who relocated from New Jersey), Archie Allen, and Dr. Thomas Baker platted the town that became Cordova. The village’s early economy centered on agriculture, but it was also an early transportation hub; Israel Atherton operated a hand-powered ferry between Cordova and Princeton, Iowa. The Diamond Jo Company built a warehouse in the 1850s (at 2nd and Main) that served his interests for two decades. Like Port Byron, Cordova was an important center for lime production; the industry began in the 1850s and lasted until the 1940s.

Cordova Baptist Church interior

Cordova Baptist Church interior

The railroad arrived in 1871 but because of the topography, the tracks were laid further east of the river than usual. As a result, Cordova did not suffer the fate of other river towns that were separated from the riverfront by railroad tracks. The arrival of the railroad signaled the demise of river transportation, at least for Cordova, and the Diamond Jo warehouse was shuttered. It sat empty until the 1880s when it was turned into a button factory for a few years.

After World War II, new families moved into Cordova, many of whom worked in the Quad Cities. New industries in the 1960s included chemical refineries built by Nitrin (which closed in 1969) and Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (better known as 3M), as well as a nuclear power plant.

The Cordova Township Park and Civic Center (11th St. at State Highway 84; 309.654.2620) has a park next to state highway with a walking path and plenty of spots to picnic.

Just north of town is the Cordova Dragway Park (19425 Illinois Route 84 North; 309.654.2110), which, as the name suggests, hosts drag races. During the summer, you can usually find some action on a Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday evening.

The Cordova Baptist Church (602 3rd Ave. South; 309.654.2501) dates to 1843; the current brick church was built in 1858 for $8,000. The construction included a series of wooden blocks and pulleys in the attic to provide a counterbalance to the hanging lights; the church now has more modern light fixtures. The building has been through several renovations. In 1888, wainscoting was added to the walls and arches added to the corners. In 1901, the foundation was repaired, new stairways were built, a new sloping floor was added and curved oak pews installed. The original steeple was removed in 1905 and not replaced until 1974 when a fiberglass steeple was installed. The art glass windows were installed in 1942; the portico was added in 1970.

Princeton Beach is a popular summer locale for swimming and general river enjoyment. It is located on an island just north of Cordova; you’ll need a boat to get there.

The Leisure Harbor Inn (701 Main Ave.; 309.654.2233; WiFi) has four well-kept rooms, each with a private bath, in a sprawling 1852-era house right on the Mississippi River. Guests are greeted with freshly baked goodies. The views from the porches are brilliant and the house has a number of common rooms in which guests can spread out. They even have a marina with transient slips, if you want to boat in.

Post Office: 1001 Main Ave.; 309.654.2349.
Cordova District Library: 402 Main Ave.; 309.654.2330.

Heading upriver? Check out Albany.

Heading downriver? Check out Port Byron.

© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009,2017

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