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Galena is the largest city in, and county seat of, Jo Daviess Countymarker, Illinoismarker in the United Statesmarker with an estimated population of 3,396 in 2006. The city is a popular tourist destination known for its history, historical architecture, as well as its ski and golf resorts. Galena was the home to Ulysses S. Grant, several other war generals, entertainers, and politicians.


Main Street
Galena has a rich history which is still visible in the city's architecture. Originally it was inhabited by Native Americans in the Sac and Fox Nation. By the late 17th century, French people began to settle in the area and in the early 19th century American settlers arrived. Following a sharp decline in the demand for lead, Galena's population dropped from 14,000, where it was in mid 19th century, to only 3,396, where it is in the early 21st century.

The official flag of Galena was adopted by the city of Galena in 1976 to symbolize mining, agriculture, steamboats, and the 9 American Civil War generals from the city.

Lead mining

The city is named for the mineral "galena". It is the natural mineral form of lead sulfide and the most important lead ore mineral. Native Americans, including the Sac and Fox tribes, mined the ore in Galena for use as body painting. In the 1690s French trappers discovered the area and also began mining the lead.

Within a few centuries American settlers arrived in the area. George Davenport, a retired colonel in the United States Army, successfully shipped Galena's first boatload of lead ore down the Mississippi River in 1816. Three years later a trading post was built in Galena which led to the first steamboat arriving in 1824. By 1845 Galena was producing nearly 27,000 tons of lead ore. At that time Jo Daviess County was producing eighty percent of the lead in the United Statesmarker.


Until the late 1980s, Galena remained a small rural farming community. In 1990, local industries included the second Kraft Foods cheese plant founded by James L. Kraft, the first being in Stockton, Illinoismarker; Lefco Foundry; John Westwick's foundry; and Microswitch, Inc.

In the 1980s, a tourist campaign was strongly endorsed by then-mayor Frank Einsweiler. Since that time the face of Galena has changed a great deal. Long-standing businesses in the downtown area including Stair's Grocery, Sullivan's Grocery, Clingman's Pharmacy, the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in Illinois, and Hartig's Drugs have closed their downtown locations. Clingman's and Hartig's have relocated to locations on the outskirts of Galena while Stair's and Sullivan's closed their doors for good.



Galena is a very popular tourist destination hosting well over one million visitors each year. Galena is also popular with Chicagoansmarker, many of whom keep second homes in the area.


Eighty-five percent of the structures in Galena are within the Galena Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and greatly contributes to the city's popularity. The Old Market House State Historic Sitemarker, built in 1845, is a museum of local social history. Main Street in downtown Galena has a large number of specialty shops and restaurants and is home to the Galena Cellers winery. Galena's Saint Michael's Church was founded by the pioneer priest Father Samuel Mazzuchelli. The church is named after one of the three Archangels. Opened in 1855, the downtown Desoto House Hotel, is the oldest operating hotel in Illinois. There are also several resorts and golf courses located in and around Galena including the Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa and the Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort.


Galena is home to Galena High School. Since 2007, Highland Community College has offered classes in the city.

Galena Territory

Golf course in Galena Territory
The Galena Territory is a private development located several miles southeast of downtown Galena. The territory, which is managed by a homeowners association, has set aside 1,500 acres (6 km²) of protected recreational land. The remainder is filled with low-density residential development and the Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. The resort is best known for its 63 holes of championship golf, including "The General," which Golf Digest ranked #41 in the 07/08 "America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses."


Civil War figures

By the end of the American Civil War, the count of generals from Galena reached nine; besides Grant:

Galena was also briefly represented in Congress by Edward Dickinson Baker, who would later be the only U.S. Senator to fall in battle.

Other residents

Famous visitors

Galena has had many famous visitors come to the city. Theodore Roosevelt spoke at Turner Hall while he was Vice President. General Tom Thumb visited Galena and stayed at the Desoto House. William McKinley spoke at Turner Hall. Former Vice President Schuyler Colfax was the first prominent speaker to speak at Turner Hall in 1877. Mark Twain also stayed at the Desoto House. Abraham Lincoln spoke from the 5th level balcony of the Desoto House when he was running for State Senate; the Desoto House's top 2 levels were demolished, and it now has only 3 levels.

Stephen A. Douglas was a frequent visitor to Galena and roomed in Galena the night before his debate with Abraham Lincoln in Freeport, ILmarker

Jefferson Davis was dispatched to Galena in 1832 to remove miners from lands claimed by the Native Americans during the Black Hawk War

In 1869 Galena hosted a woman's suffrage convention in which Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony both attended.


As of the census of 2000, there were 3,460 people, 1,570 households, and 893 families residing in the city. The population density was 926.4 people per square mile (358.2/km²). There were 1,821 housing units at an average density of 487.6/sq mi (188.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.54% White, 0.32% African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 1.16% from other races, and 0.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.06% of the population.

There were 1,570 households out of which 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.1% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.81.In the city the population was spread out with 18.7% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 22.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,103, and the median income for a family was $44,063. Males had a median income of $32,172 versus $19,670 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,773. About 4.3% of families and 9.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.8% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.


Galena is located at (42.418171, -90.431472) . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.7 square miles (9.7 km²). Galena is situated along the Galena River, which is one of many tributaries of the Mississippi River.

Galena is located in the Driftless Zone, an area that was not covered by glaciers during the recent ice ages. This area, which includes the far northwestern corner of the state of Illinois, escaped glaciation, even while almost the entire state was glaciated, nearly to its southern tip. Because it escaped glaciation, this area is known for its hills, valleys, bluffs and large amounts of exposed rock.

Horseshoe Mound is a hill located outside Galena that U.S. 20 winds around before entering Galena. The view from Horseshoe Mound is one of the most photographed spots in the city. It stands at high.


Due to the city's proximity to the Galena River, buildings have been threatened on numerous occasions by flooding. Galena's Congressman, Leo E. Allen, helped acquire funding for city floodgates which were added in 1951. The following were significant, recorded floods:
  • Galena's first recorded flood was in 1828. Water was high enough to allow steamboats to travel on city streets.
  • In 1937, a large flood inundated Main Street with up to five feet of water causing serious damage to downtown buildings.
  • Almost eight feet of water threatened downtown Galena in 1993, but was stopped by the city's floodgates. Late spring season rainfall led the Mississippi and Galena Rivers to their highest recorded levels.
  • In June of 2009 the Galena floodgates were repainted because of the flaking of the green paint. They were repainted a tan color to reflect a historic photograph that suggested the gates were at one time tan.



  1. Economic Development: Approved comprehensive plan, City of Galena, Illinois, (2003, April 15).
  2. Solomon, A. (2005, June 5). Back to Galena. Chicago Tribune, pp. 1, Travel.
  3. Report of the Sixth Reunion of the Grant Family Association at the Breevort House, New York, New York, February 27, 1914, ed. by Frank Grant and Elihu Grant (Westfield, Mass.: n. p., 1914), pp. 26-29.
  4. Hayes, K. (2007). The Cambridge Introduction to Herman Melville. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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