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The Rock River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately 299 miles (481 km) long, in the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Illinois. It rises in southeast Wisconsin, in the Theresa Marsh near Theresa, Wisconsin in northeast Dodge County, Wisconsin approximately 17 miles (27 km) south of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. It flows southwest, through the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, then meanders southward draining the area of southeast Wisconsin between the Wisconsin River and Lake Michigan. It passes through Watertown, collects the Crawfish River in Jefferson, and receives the Bark River at Fort Atkinson. In northern Rock County it receives the Yahara River, and flows southward through Janesville and Beloit into northern Illinois, where it receives the Pecatonica River 5 miles (8 km) south of the state line.
It flows south through Rockford, then southwest across northwestern Illinois, picking up the Kishwaukee River, passing Oregon, Dixon, Sterling and Rock Falls before joining the Mississippi at Rock Island. It was on the Rock River in Dixon where Ronald Reagan served as a lifeguard. Reagan’s favorite fishing spot, now called “Dutch Landing”, was located just southwest of Lowell Park on the Rock River. The name refers to Reagan’s nickname, “Dutch”.
Shortly before merging, the Rock and Crawfish rivers cross Interstate 94. Both rivers flood the nearby land regularly. In 2008, some lanes on I-94 were temporarily closed because of this flooding.