Community Profile

Located in north central Illinois along the beautiful Rock River, the Sterling/Rock Falls community is a place where people feel right at home, right away! Use our site to get a feel for our community, then come experience Sterling/Rock Falls for yourself! Stroll our charming streets and soak up a little of our nearly 200-year heritage. Visit our local schools and see first hand what a powerful combination nurturing and technology can be. Round out your visit by exploring our affordable housing options, world-class healthcare resources, year-round recreational opportunities and family-friendly festivals and events.

Welcome to Sterling/Rock Falls!


Originally home to the Hopewell, Sac and Fox tribes, the first European settlers traveled to our corner of Illinois in the early 1830s. With our location on the powerful Rock River—a ready source of transportation and power—and an abundance of lovely woodlands, prairies and bluffs, our community quickly became a regional hub. The arrival of the railroad in the early 1900s helped turn us into a manufacturing powerhouse and earned our area the moniker “Hardware Capital of the World.”

Today, Sterling/Rock Falls continues to grow and thrive. Our commitment to education and healthcare, plus ongoing infrastructure improvements, has helped us attract new businesses and residents. And a wealth of year-round recreational and cultural opportunities makes us popular with locals and tourists alike.

Notable People

Here are just a few of the famous people who have called our community “home”:

  • Terry Brooks, epic fantasy author; Shannara series, Word and Void series and Magic Kingdom series
  • Hometown of major/minor league baseball players Dan Kolb, Seth Blair and Jake Junis
  • Joel Ryce-Menuhin, classical pianist and psychologist
  • Birthplace of college basketball player, Bryan Boerjan (Samford Bulldogs)
  • Louis Bellson, one of the world’s most famous drummers and creator of the double bass drum kit


Rock Falls – 9266 people (DCEO)
Sterling – 15,370 (DCEO)

Median age: 36.1 (Rock Falls); 36.3 Sterling; 37.6 US

Age group as % of population

Age Rock Falls Sterling
0-9 14 13.8
10-14 7 7
15-19 3.8 3.6
20-24 3.8 3.8
25-34 18.2 19
35-44 13.6 13.5
45-54 12.8 13.5
54-65 10.2 8.7
65+ 16.5 17


Race Rock Falls Percentage* Sterling Percentage*
White, non-Hispanic 81.4 70.6
Hispanic 15.1 24.2
Other race .32 2.3
Two or more races 1.7 1.6
Black 1.3 2.7
American Indian .2 .10

Total may exceed 100% because Hispanics could be counted in other races ( Source:

Nearest Cities

Some of the Midwest’s most popular cities are just a day trip away!

City Population Approximate Distance
Rockford, IL 150,115 47 miles
Davenport, IA 100,827 49 miles
Galena, IL 3,333 51 miles
Madison, WI 208,054 90 miles
Chicago, IL 2.8 million 100 miles


If you enjoy the great outdoors, there’s simply no better place to experience it than Sterling/Rock Falls. We’re a Sports Illustrated “Good Sports Community of the Year” and with more than 30 parks, miles of hiking trails, beaches, five 18-hole golf courses and state-of-the-art indoor fitness facilities, it’s easy to see why!

Sterling Park District
Administrative Offices/Duis Center
211 East St. Mary’s Road
Sterling, IL 61081

Rock Falls (Coloma Township) Park District
508 East 11th Street
Rock Falls, IL 61071


Ready access to highways and airports makes our “in the middle of everything” location even more convenient. We’re just minutes away from I-88, I-39, I-80 and I-74 and close to some of the world’s most popular airports. Airport Approximate Distance: Chicago/Rockford International Airport 42 miles, Quad City International Airport 48 miles, O’Hare International 112 miles, Chicago Midway 117 miles.


Your dollar goes further in Sterling/Rock Falls! Affordable housing is a big reason why the cost of living is lower in our area. Median housing prices are less than half of national numbers, and your property tax bill will be roughly 50% of Illinois averages. Cost-of-living: Rock Falls – 74,  Sterling – 76, United States Overall – 100.

Source: Sperlings Best Places

Quality healthcare

Some of the country’s best medical resources are right in our own backyard!

CGH Medical Center (815.625.0400) 24-hour trauma care, 35 specialty areas, diagnostic services and 14 family practitioners at 9 satellite community clinics.

Sterling-Rock Falls Clinic 6 locations, 50 physicians, 29 specialty areas

Year-round recreation and community events

There’s something for everyone in Sterling/Rock Falls. Sports fans can join a team or root from the sidelines. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the miles of biking and hiking trails in our extensive park systems. And ready access to the Rock River and Lake Sinnissippi (say that three times fast!) means it’s easy to spend a lazy afternoon boating or fishing. Throw in a year-round farmers’ market, festivals, concerts, plays and some of the area’s best shopping—plus all Chicago has to offer just a day trip away—and we think you’ll agree that Sterling/Rock Falls is the perfect place to play!

Environmental (Green Efforts)

It’s easy to be green in Sterling/Rock Falls! Extensive recycling programs cut down on landfill waste, and our popular bike path makes it easy to pedal your way to work, school or fun! Our year-round farmers’ market lets you stock your pantry with local foods in every season. And our ongoing commitment to the environment will help to insure the beauty of our lakes, rivers and parks for generations to come.


Get to know us today and we think you'll see
why Sterling/Rock Falls is just where you belong.

1200 Sixth Avenue
PO Box 1200
Columbus, GA 31902-1200
Phone (706) 327-1566 or
(800) 360-8552
Fax (706) 327-7512
[email protected]