Village of Rockton buys Sonoco property on Rock River, may build a restaurant or hotel


The former Sonoco property is between the Rockton hydroplant and Settlers Park.

The Village of Rockton recently acquired the Sonoco property on the Rock River. The former paper mill shut down in 2008, and the buildings were demolished in 2015. A long cleanup due to ground contamination kept developers from purchasing the property.

Mayor Peterson said the Village bought the property on 200 Hawick Street and is planning to build on the site, which is just across Blackhawk Blvd from Settlers Park.

Nothing has been decided at this time. However, Peterson would like the Village to build a restaurant, boutique hotel or turn it into a wedding venue. “It’s right on the river. We could turn that not very pretty property into a pretty property.”

Peterson said until that time, the land will be used as an overflow parking lot. 

The Sonoco property covers less than five acres, but for years, Rockton was home to one of the most popular hotels and resorts in the Midwest, covering more than 100 acres. Each weekend from the 1940s through the 70s, The Wagon Wheel attracted hundreds of people, including the likes of Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan. The resort included a hotel, golf course, swimming pool, bowling alley, ice rink, dinner theater, candy kitchen, miniature train rides, a landing strip, and the Church by the Side of the Road.

Peterson hopes to beautify Rockton further by applying a $5,000 grant from the Association of Realtors to develop a grassy area for a small park, and commission a mural on the wall of Local Blessings located on Hawick Street. “I would like to see it dedicated to Cyndy Fogarty who did so much to help the Village,” Peterson said.

Meanwhile, store owners and Village organizations are getting prepared for the annual Rockton Christmas Walk celebration, Dec. 3-5. The annual parade on Main Street will be happening this year, plus sleigh rides, Hot Cocoa Crawl, lighted parade, Candy Cane Craft Fair, and an entertaining “Dueling Pianos” on Christmas Walk Eve.

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