The History of the Cordova High School Panthers
Cordova is located in northwestern Illinois right on the Mighty Mississippi River. The bulk of the town is located between Il. Rt. 84 and the River itself, approximately 15 miles north of East Moline (the Quad Cities). The town’s population is a peaceful 633 residents.
According to our good fan and great supporter of Cordova High Susan Morthland Mikles, the origin of the high school traces its roots back to 1887 when the high school curriculum was established. A booklet titled “Cordova High School: The Spirit Survives!” written in 2000 showed the spirit of the Cordova “kids” lives on to this day. The booklet as well as research by Susan Milkes provided the following information on Cordova High School:
“The school began in 1887 and the last class graduated in 1956 after which there was a consolidation of the high schools in Cordova, Port Byron , and Hillsdale that created Riverdale Unit #100 based in Port Byron.
The original Cordova High School was held in a two-story stone building that was used as both a grade school and high school. This building contained four rooms. The site of the demolished building in 2006 was this same site of the original school however the building that existed there in 2006 was not the original.
In 1920 the building’s upper floors were declared unsafe and classes were moved to the Methodist Church in Cordova. That same year financing for a new high school building was approved. Construction began on a new building in October of 1921 and was completed in August of 1922. The building remained as the Cordova High School building until the school’s closing in 1955.
At some point, at the site of the original building, a new school was erected and used as a grade school. I am usure of the actual date of this construction but this building continued to be used through the consolidation of 1955. Its usefulness lasted through the 1970s when it was closed due to new construction at what is now known as the Riverdale Elementary Building.
This grade schol building was purchased and used as a restaurant known as the “Cordova Landing” for many years. The building was eventual sold and sat empty for several years. The Village of Cordova eventually took possession of the building and had it torn down early this past spring (2006).
When the Cordova High School building used from 1922 through 1956 was closed, it never again was used in any capacity. This once grand building was eventually torn down in the late 1960s. The property on which this building sat was turned into a housing addition.” (Special thanks to Susan Mikles for this report)
The web address for the RIverdale HS website is http://www.riroe.k12.il.us/riroe/riverdale/ .
Cordova High School Quick Facts
Year school opened: 1887
Year school closed: 1956
Year demolished: late 1960s
Consolidated to: Riverdale High School (Port Byron)
School colors: Blue & Gold
School nickname: the “Panthers”
School fight song: “On Cordova”
Sung to “On Wisconsin”
On Cordova, On Cordova,
On to Victory.
Keep the good old school before you
We will win this game!
RAH RAH RAH!!
On Cordova, On Cordova
Fight on for your fame.
Fight Fellows, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
We’ll win this game!
Through research completed on other towns, it is known that Cordova HS competed in the old Two Rivers Conference during the 1940s and 1950s. Member schools included Port Byron, Hillsdale, Erie, Prophetstown, Lyndon, Atkinson, Annawan, Tampico, and Mineral. Cordova High School offered basketball, track, and baseball. .
The only IHSA hardware brought home was by the boy’s basketball team. Their success is listed below. Season records, coaches’ names and other information is needed for this section.
We did located some scores regardikng the IHSA State Tourney invloving Cordova on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores.” The scores we found are listed below.
1921-22 through 1932-33 Postseason scores, record, and coaches’ names needed.
1933-34 Rock Island District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Joy 29-28
Joy lost to Orion in the 2nd Rd.
1934-35 Moline District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to East Moline 61-1
East Moline lost title game to Moline
1935-36 Reynolds District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd Beat Joy 20-17 (2 O/Ts)
2nd Rd Beat Matherville 27-12
Semi-final lost to Port Byron (score unavailable)
Port Byron lost final to Keithsburg
1936-37 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1937-38 East Moline District Champions! Coach’s name & record needed
Title Game Beat Tampico 33-22
Rock Island Regional Tournament
Rock Island Beat East Moline for title
1938-39 East Moline Regional Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
(Did not compete in District)
1st Rd lost to Rock Island 33-11
Rock Island lost to Moline in semi-final
1939-40 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1940-41 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1941-42 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1942-43 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1943-44 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1944-45 Erie District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Erie 51-26
Erie won District title over Coal Valley
1945-46 Orion District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Port Byron 23-15
Orion won District over Coal Valley
1946-47 Erie District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Hillsdale 47-36
Hillsdale lost in semi-final to Erie
Erie won District title over Orion
1947-48 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1948-49 Orion District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Port Byron 51-40
Port Byron lost semi-final to Alwood
Alwood won District title over Coal Valley
1949-50 Coal Valley District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Port Byron 45-41
Port Byron lost title game to Coal Valley
1950-51 Hillsdale District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Hillsdale 87-69
Hillsdale Beat Coal Valley for title
1951-52 Port Byron District Runner-up! Coach’s name & record needed
Title Game lost to Lyndon 68-64
(no other scores available)
1952-53 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1953-54 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1954-55 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1955-56 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
The final season for Cordova High School was the 1955-56 season. Cordova High School became part of the Riverdale School District in the summer of 1956.
Notable Roundball Athlete
Jack Guinn – Was a member of the Two Rivers All-Conference team for the 1952-53 season.
UNIQUE TOWN NAME
A fan of the Glory Days site named Jeff gave this explanation of how Cordova got its unusual name:
“Cordova was named after a Scandinavian who worked on the river in the 1800’s loading “Cords” of wood for the passing steam ships. The Scandinavian could only count to 10, so when a passing ship stopped to purchase more than 10 cords of wood the Scandinavian would announce, say for 14 cords of wood, “4 cord ova 10″. Thats truely how Cordova got it’s name.”
IN NEED OF YOUR ASSISTANCE
As stated before, we are in dire need of assistance in researching Cordova High School. What was it used for after it closed as a high school? What were the school colors and team nickname? We are hopeful someone from Cordova (or a neighboring town) can provide us with this information and possibly a photo of the old high school building.
If you have this information to share please write us to via e-mail at:firstname.lastname@example.org or via USPS mail at
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631