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Galena has a Rich Native American History
Galena has a Rich Native American History

Find out how you can get a glimpse of the past When most people think about American history they probably picture muskets, powdered wigs, and perhaps presidential speeches. But before all of that, America had a rich history. Native peoples inhabited the land long before the Pilgrims got here, and their influences and contributions shouldn’t be overlooked – and in Galena, they are celebrated. Know for its history, including being home to a house once owned by Ulysses S. Grant, Galena owes a lot to its first inhabitants. In fact, the city gets its name from a lead ore mined by Native Americans that was used in burial rituals. During the Middle Woodland Period (1-400 CE), galena was traded by the Havana Hopewell tribe in the area. The spread of galena can be attributed in part to the French, who arrived in Northwestern Illinois in the 1600s. At the time, there were three predominant tribes in the region: Sioux, Sauk, and Fox, and the French discovered galena most likely thanks to their contact with the Sioux. Galena is the perfect place to get a sense of the legacy of Native Americans. When you visit, in a sense you will feel […]

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Why a Town with Only 3,000 Residents has Over a Million Yearly Visits

The city offers a snapshot of history that few other places in our country can match. Who would have guessed? That’s what you hear when you explain the reason why a city of only 3,000 residents three hours west of Chicago gets over a million visitors every year. What’s the attraction? Add an “s” to that word. Attractions. Galena is one of those amazing cities that has been blessed by both history and geography. It’s the home of no less than 9 Civil War generals—one of whom became our 18th president. Galena is so soaked in history that 85% of the structures in the town are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Civil war nexus No other city in the United States can make such a claim. Most people just call it “The 9 Generals,” and it’s one of the top reasons Galena draws so many visitors. If history—Civil War history in particular—is your thing, you can visit the homes and pre-war working places of 9 highly decorated Civil War heroes. And, you can do it without even stepping outside the Galena city limits. One of those 9 generals is none other than Ulysses S. Grant, and this […]

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5 Things to Look for in a Vacation Rental in Galena

Don’t book a place unless it checks off everything on this list If you are like most Americans, you probably don’t get a ton of time off from work. At most, you may only get a week or two each year, which means those precious vacation days have to be used wisely. You definitely do not want to come back from a trip wishing you had gone somewhere else, so it pays to do some research ahead of time. This is why Galena is a perfect destination. With its rich history, many fun things to do, and exceptional dining and shopping opportunities, it has something for everyone. But you’ll enjoy the town even more with the right vacation rental. Before you decide on one, think about these key features: A relaxing environment Whether you want to be out and about each day doing a lot of different things or are going on vacation just to take it easy, you’ll definitely want your rental to provide a relaxing setting. This should involve a spacious layout, comfortable furniture, and perhaps even a pool. Closeness to activities Nobody wants to spend a good chunk of their vacation just getting to and from the […]

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Galena, Illinois is a Golfer’s Paradise

  Grab your clubs and head to the premier golf destination in Northwest Illinois Some people like to do nothing while on vacation. Sitting by a pool or laying on a beach suits them just fine. But others prefer that their trips involve a little more activity, things like hiking, sight-seeing, or maybe hitting the links. If you’re in this latter category and you can’t imagine taking a trip without your golf bag, then it is time to visit Galena. Galena and the nearby area are home to several golf courses, each with their own unique attributes. But they do have one thing in common: All of them offer incredible views of the beautiful landscape Northwest Illinois is known for. Here are six of the best: Galena Golf Club Perfect for golfers at any skill level, the Galena Golf Club is meticulously taken care of and very affordable. There’s also a bar and grill on hand for an after-round drink or bite to eat. Apple Canyon Lake Golf Course If you like your golf with a side of scenery, Apple Canyon is for you. Playing the nine holes will take you through canyons and over hills. Lacoma Golf Club With […]

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The Natural Attractions of Galena, Illinois

Activities in Galena that will make you appreciate the great outdoors Who knew a small town tucked within northwest Illinois could draw such big tourism? Galena is known not only for their range of events and brewery tours but its natural attractions as well. In fact, Galena got its name from the mineral galena, which was mined in the area by Native Americans for almost a thousand years. Largely due to this fact, Galena is attributed with the first major mineral rush in the US. Despite quite literally being founded after a natural mineral, there are many other natural attractions that brings tourists to this small town each and every year. Galena state parks Whether you’re looking for a hike, a snowshoe adventure, or a place to camp or fish, Galena’s state parks and creeks are something you’ll need to experience to understand. The Galena Creek Regional Park is surrounded by the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest on three sides and provides activities in both winter and summer environments. In total, there are three state parks along the Apple and Galena Rivers around hills created by glaciers thousands of years ago. Ranging in difficulty and size, Galena state parks offer limitless activities […]

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Home to Generals: Galena and the Civil War

There’s more to Galena than meets the eye. It’s not unusual to discover that there’s a celebrity or two who also hail from your itty-bitty hometown. It’s almost unheard of, however, to find out that a small town produced enough of them to field an entire baseball team. Such is that case of Galena, home to no less than 9 Civil War generals. One of those generals went on to become our 18th president. You’ve got to wonder what made this unassuming Illinois town such a prolific provider of Civil War leadership. Something in the water, perhaps? Not perhaps, but precisely. Galena gets its name from the mineral byproduct of lead mining. By 1841 when it was chartered as a city, Galena had the busiest port between St. Louis and St. Paul on the Mississippi River. Thanks to that mighty body of moving water, Galena’s population had swelled to over 14,000 people by the 1850s. Records from the time show it wasn’t uncommon for as many as 15 steamboats to be docked along Water Street. By the start of the war in 1861, Galena was one of the state’s largest and most influential cities. So, 9 of these residents going […]

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Why The National Historic Register Chose Galena

A time-travelling treasure trip to America’s proud past How many places in the United States can say that 85% of their town is a national historic district? Galena, Illinois can. There are few places in America that can boast such a rich and significant heritage or provide such a vibrant link to the past. In fact, this beautiful destination remains barely changed since the mid 1800’s. With over 1400 sites of historical interest it’s no wonder Galena attracts more than a million visitors every year. Take a trip with us to learn why this scenic spot deserves its place on the Register and on your vacation calendar. A wealth of classic construction Second Empire. Queen Anne. Gothic and Greek Revival. Vernacular. Federal. Italianate. With so many beautiful building styles gracing Galena, it’s difficult to highlight only a few examples! The oldest living space is Dowling House, built by John Dowling in 1826. It belongs to a time when Galena was growing rapidly toward becoming a city in 1841, enjoying its status as a major exporter of lead and a bustling Mississippi port. Persistent fires in the 1850’s spurred Galena officials to build more with stone and brick. The serene and […]

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Galena Ranked as One of the 10 Most Charming Small Towns by TripAdvisor

See what this little gem has to offer Pretty much everybody is at least a little familiar with many of the big cities in the U.S. and the things that can be found there. But there are tons of other towns and villages around the country that deserve just as much recognition, and one in Northwest Illinois is starting to get it. Recently, the travel website TripAdvisor named Galena as one of the most charming small towns in America. “Northwest Illinois has always had a gem of a destination with Galena,” said Celestino Ruffini, the Director of Sale and Marketing for Jo Daviess County. “Both nationally and regionally, recognition has been given to what the destination provides, but it is heartwarming to know that efforts in preserving this iconic piece of American history just as it was in the 1800s are regarded so highly. It is the commitment of residents, past and current, that have made this destination into what it is.” Galena has also been declared one of the prettiest towns in the U.S. by Forbes. And if that weren’t enough, in 2013, Fodor’s Travel confirmed what locals already know: that Galena is one of the best small towns […]

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4 Things to Do and See at the Galena Country Fair

Image credit And why you should make your travel plans now Galena is known for an assortment of sights and attractions that can be enjoyed year-round, including historical buildings, live entertainment, and natural wonders. However, one of the town’s main attractions only takes place once each year: The Galena Country Fair. Held on Columbus Day weekend, the fair is two days chock full of fun and excitement. If you are planning to attend this year’s festivities, here’s what you can expect: Amazing arts and crafts If you love seeing the work of talented artists, you’re in luck. The Galena Country Fair will feature over 150 craftspeople from all over the country who have been hand-selected to showcase their wares. You will find an assortment of items for sale, including jewelry, pottery, woodwork, and fine art. This gives you an excellent opportunity to get a lot of your holiday shopping done early or just pick up something for yourself. Excellent food You can’t attend a country fair and not sample some of the delicious local cuisine! Basically, whatever you are in the mood for you’ll find, including brats, chili, tacos, and of course ice cream and funnel cakes. There will also […]

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Ulysses S. Grant and Galena: The Relationship Between This Little City and Our 18th President

The 18th president made Galena his home, and the city has kept his memory alive. It’s all about connections. We claim a place, and then the place claims us. That’s what happened with a little Illinois city and the 18th president of the United States. There’s an important place in our history books for Ulysses S. Grant. He led the Union Army to victory during the Civil War, and then went on to lead the nation through Reconstruction during 2 terms as our nation’s president. He called the Northern Illinois city of Galena home. Today, this Northern Illinois city features Grant’s home—as well as more than 1,000 other buildings—that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the U. S. Department of the Interior. Grant and Galena are bound by this historic tie. What’s in a name The 18th president’s given name was actually Hiram Ulysses Grant. The “S” was accidentally added to his West Point Academy nomination form by Ohio Congressman Thomas Hamer. Grant tried to correct the record, but eventually gave up as more people called him by this name. Galena never suffered a name problem at the hands of an elected official, but people often […]

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