Braidwood, Illinois

Braidwood is a city in Will County, Illinois, United States, approximately 53 miles (85 km) southwest of Chicago and 18 miles (29 km) south of Joliet. The population was 6,191 at the 2010 census.

Location of Braidwood in Will County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 41°16′19″N 88°13′6″W
CountryUnited States
  Total5.53 sq mi (14.33 km2)
  Land5.36 sq mi (13.88 km2)
  Water0.17 sq mi (0.45 km2)
  Density1,148.91/sq mi (443.57/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
  Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s)815/779
FIPS code17-07770
Wikimedia CommonsBraidwood, Illinois

The Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station, a nuclear power plant currently owned by Exelon Corporation, is also located in the area (although the plant's address is actually in the nearby town of Braceville). The station is one of the major employers in the area and provides a significant portion of the electricity used in the Chicago area. The plant has been the subject of controversy concerning a series of leaks since 2007[3][4]

Reed-Custer Community Unit School District 255 educates students from in and around Braidwood, Custer Park, Essex, and Godley. The district has 3 schools: Reed-Custer Elementary School (Grades PreK-5), Reed-Custer Middle School (Grades 6-8), and Reed-Custer High School (Grades 9-12). The district level administrators are: Mark Mitchell (Superintendent), Christine Nelson (Assistant Superintendent), and Jim King (Director of Operations). Reed-Custer High School is located at 249 Comet Drive in Braidwood, IL 60408, and is part of the Reed-Custer School District known as 255U.


Braidwood is located at 41°16′19″N 88°13′6″W (41.271982, -88.218221).[5]

According to the 2010 census, Braidwood has a total area of 4.764 square miles (12.34 km2), of which 4.58 square miles (11.86 km2) (or 96.14%) is land and 0.184 square miles (0.48 km2) (or 3.86%) is water.[6]


Historical population
Est. 20186,203[7]0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 5,203 people, 1,843 households, and 1,422 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,124.0 people per square mile (433.9/km²). There were 2,305 housing units at an average density of 497.9 per square mile (192.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.48% White, 0.27% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.79% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.83% of the population. Was also known by Blacks to be a "sundown town".[10]

There were 1,843 households out of which 39.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.3% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.8% were non-families. 18.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the city, the population was spread out with 29.5% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.4 males.

Early history

In 1864, a farmer digging for water at the site of the present city found coal instead.[11] Deposits were substantial and the demand for coal in nearby Chicago was high, so companies rushed to acquire land and set up operations. A mining boomtown sprang up, a post office was established in 1867,[12] and the community was called Keeversville.[13] James Braidwood was an early member of the community, and in 1872 he was hired by one company to superintend the sinking of the first deep mine shaft.[14] The addition of more deep-shaft mines followed, and on March 4, 1873 the city was incorporated[15] and named in Braidwood's honor.

Concerning the city's early population, Donna reports,

According to the U. S. Bureau of Census for 1880 the population of Braidwood was 5,524, the highest of record in the census reports. In that year the population of the entire Township of Reed was 5,981. Since coal production reached its peak in 1877-1878, it is quite possible that the population may have been near 7,500 in those years, but hardly higher. Hundreds of people left Braidwood following the area's worst strike in 1877, when strike-breakers were imported by the coal companies, reducing the actual recorded census of 1880 to near the 6,000 number.[16]

Businesses and the lives of residents were centered on the coal mines, with economic prosperity and depression occurring in their turn. Mines cut back operations during summer months, when warm weather reduced the demand for coal, leaving many miners unemployed. The disputes between coal companies and miners over wages and working conditions were always rancorous and often violent, typical for the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[17]

On February 16, 1883, the Diamond Mine in Braidwood was suddenly flooded, resulting in the deaths of 73 miners.[18]

There was a combination of ethnicities, providing religious and cultural diversity. At first most miners were Americans or immigrants from northern Europe. African Americans arrived from West Virginia, and many later residents would arrive as immigrants from eastern and southern Europe.[19][20][21]

Notable people

Cultural references


  1. "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jun 29, 2017.
  3. HustisEmail, Jo Ann. "NRC: Tritium response is to emotion, not risk". Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  4. Association, Brett Chase and Madison Hopkins • Better Government. "Investigation: Radioactive leaks at Illinois nuclear plants". Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  5. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  6. "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
  8. "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  9. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  10. Retrieved 2019-11-08. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. Maue, August (1928). History of Will County, Illinois. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Topeka : Historical Pub. Co. p. 345.
  12. Donna, Modesto Joseph (1957). The Braidwood story. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Braidwood, Ill. : Braidwood History Bureau. p. 20.
  13. Donna, Modesto Joseph (1957). The Braidwood story. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Braidwood, Ill. : Braidwood History Bureau. p. 18.
  14. Maue, August (1928). History of Will County, Illinois. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Topeka : Historical Pub. Co. p. 347.
  15. Adams, James N. (compiler) (1989), Keller, William E. (ed.), Illinois Place Names, Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, p. 301, ISBN 0-912226-24-2
  16. Donna, Modesto Joseph (1957). The Braidwood story. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Braidwood, Ill. : Braidwood History Bureau. p. 21.
  17. Maue, August (1928). History of Will County, Illinois. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Topeka : Historical Pub. Co. pp. 347–349.
  18. Donna, Modesto Joseph, The Braidwood Story, pp. 75–79, retrieved 2018-12-31
  19. Joyce, Richard, Early Days of Coal Mining in Northern Illinois, The Illinois Labor History Society, archived from the original on 2008-05-14, retrieved 2008-02-12
  20. Vasco, Sandy, "Tales From Brawling Braidwood", Time Was Column, Free Press Advocate, Wilmington, Illinois, Quarterly Publication, Will County Historical Society (Fall 2001), archived from the original on 2007-08-18, retrieved 2008-02-12
  21. Woods, Robin F., A Story of James "Jimmie" Braidwood 1832-1879,, retrieved 2009-05-29
  22. Simkin, John (September 1997). "Anton Cermak". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  23. Shnay, Jerry (6 June 1985). "Pitcher`s Brilliant Effort Gives Reed-custer Title". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  24. "Baseball Almanac Les Norman". Baseball Almanac.
  25. Hinckley, Jim (2012). The Route 66 Encyclopedia. Voyageur Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780760340417.
  26. Cadden, LuAnn; Cable, Ted (2013). Traveling Through Illinois: Stories of I-55 Landmarks and Landscapes between Chicago and St. Louis. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781625845047.
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