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5 Great Winter Activities in Galena
5 Great Winter Activities in Galena

There’s always something fun to do in Galena, even when the temperatures drop While many folks decide to take their vacations in the summer, there’s something to be said for waiting until later in the year to get away. Traveling in the winter offers special benefits, including fewer tourists, off-season pricing, and no need to worry about whether or not you still fit in your swimsuit. Galena is the perfect destination for your winter trip. In addition to the city’s historical sites that you can check out any time of year, there are things that you can only see and do during the winter. If you’ll be visiting soon, here’s what you can look forward to: Skiing There are hills to ski down in Galena, but the best skiing is of the cross-country variety. The Galena River Trail is almost 3.5 miles long. Winding through Galena Junction, it will take you to the Mississippi River, and along the way you’ll marvel at Galena’s natural wonders. The trail is also good for snow-shoers and hikers. Bird watching If you’ll be in Galena in the early part of the year, you’re in for a treat. Every winter thousands of bald eagles converge […]

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A Peek at the Galena History Museum

You’ll leave with an enjoyable understanding of how Galena contributed to the Civil War and the Riverboat Economy. If history had a physical address, it might be the city of Galena, Illinois. The first mineral rush occurred there, a full 20 years before California’s Gold Rush. It’s the adopted home of Ulysses S. Grant, who is among 9 Galena residents who reached the rank of General for Civil War service. And more than 85% of the city’s buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. If you were looking for an actual street number address, you’d do well with trying 221 South Bench Street in downtown Galena—which is the location of the Galena & U. S. Grant Museum. If it has to do with Galena’s history, you’ll find it preserved or recorded here. Housing Memories The museum opens daily at 9 a.m. Give yourself plenty of time to explore because there’s a lot to see. The museum currently features 8 exhibits: Driftless Area’s First Peoples: It’s an immersive interactive exhibit that introduces you to the Native American inhabitants who hunted and mined the area that became known as Galena. Grant’s Leather Store: Before his Civil War military career […]

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These Galena Vacation Rentals Will Take You Back in Time

Experience the days of yesteryear on your next trip There’s something to be said for a quaint vacation. Jet-setting and big resorts can be fun (if expensive), but frequently the best and most memorable trips take place on a much smaller scale. When planning your next getaway, here’s why you should think about forgoing a hotel and instead staying in a log cabin. A link to the past Before we got all fancy, many people in the U.S. lived in log cabins, including the future 16th president. And while they are not nearly as common today, staying in one even for a little while can make you feel more connected to your ancestors, or at least some of the first settlers. You get to “rough” it While some folks like to experience every comfort while they travel, that’s not everybody’s cup of tea. With a log cabin, you’ll pretty much be left to your own devices (electric or otherwise). This means you will have to keep yourself entertained and prepare your own meals. (Hunting, however, won’t be necessary; a trip to the supermarket will suffice.) You’ll also get to curl up in front of a roaring fire. You’ll be immersed […]

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6 Fascinating Facts About Galena, Illinois

Think you know Galena? We bet you’ll be surprised For a small town, Galena continues to make a pretty big impression. Folks come from all over to experience its natural wonders, play on its numerous golf courses, or just to be immersed in history. And while many of the things that make Galena special are evident, there are others only the locals know about. Let us reveal some of its secrets. It wasn’t always called Galena Because Galena was once a huge mining town for lead, it of course attracted its share of people. Mined by Native Americans for more than 1,000 years, French settlers arrived in the 1690s. They called the town La Pointe. But in 1826, people decided a change was in order, and Galena – which is the Latin word for lead sulfide – won out. It helped America grow Years before the gold rush, the lead rush took the country by storm, and Galena was at the center of it. By 1845, an astounding 85 percent of the lead mined in the U.S. came from Galena. It was once more happening than Chicago Currently, Galena’s population is around 3,000. But during the lead boom, it was […]

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An American Boomtown: Why Galena Once Rivaled Chicago

Galena was the location of the first mineral rush in our country The small city of Galena, Illinois once gave the famous windy city of Chicago, Illinois a run for the money. And no, that’s not a tall tale you might have heard from Mark Twain on the Mississippi—although there’s a big connection between them. The river and the two cities, that is. Here’s a tale of two cities. No, not the ones Dickens wrote about. Galena and Chicago. Instead of the French Revolution and unrequited love, this story is about riverboats and mining for lead. Just what Is Galena, anyway? It’s a specific ore that Mother Nature baked into the area during its formation. The indigenous Indians had been mining it for use in burial rituals for hundreds of years before the first of the city’s settlers came on the scene. There was enough of the ore to attract a growing number of people who saw mining it as a way to become wealthy. The first boatload of ore was floated down the Mississippi in 1816. By 1845, the city—now named Galena after the ore—was the country’s leader in lead ore production. It accounted for more than 80% of […]

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The Advantages of a Quaint Vacation Rental Over the Big Resorts

There’s no better way to take in the sights and sounds of a destination than to temporarily live like a local. It’s a binary thing. People either love resorts, or they shun them. What’s the deciding factor? In most cases, it’s the destination. A big resort usually is the destination. This is why many resorts tend to be located away from densely populated or metropolitan areas. When you get there, the plan is to check in and avail yourself of the resort amenities. You may not even leave the resort grounds until checkout time. Which is fine, but… What if your objective is to visit a destination where you want to be included in what’s happening in the area? First of all, you likely won’t find any big resorts nearby—for the previously mentioned reason of location. Add the obligatory golf course, and the average resort takes up acres of land. A preference for taking in the local atmosphere is the main reason people pass on resorts. In that case, a vacation rental is your best choice. The experience can be transformational; it can put you right in the heart of the area you’re visiting. You can get a true taste […]

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The Definitive Historical Tour of Galena, Illinois

With so much to see, these are the can’t-miss sites Though it’s a small town, Galena, is known for a lot of things. The area in which it is nestled in Northwestern Illinois is gorgeous and filled with several natural amenities. In and around the city are many excellent golf courses, which is why the area has been called a golfer’s paradise. There is even a world-class magic theater. But above all, Galena is perhaps most renowned for its history. There are certainly cities in the U.S. that are older than Galena, but few can say their historical sites are as well preserved. A remarkable 85 percent of the town is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. With so much history to explore, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to see, which is why we’ve created this guide for you. Grant’s Home Let’s start with the easy one. If you have any interest in the Civil War, the home of one of the greatest generals in American history has to be on your list. Given to him after he returned to Galena after the war, the house has been restored to look exactly like […]

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A Time Capsule: The Beautiful 19th Century Architecture of Galena

History comes alive in these five buildings America is several hundred years old, but you wouldn’t really know it by looking at most of our cities and towns. Whether due to decay, expansion, or the ‘newer is better’ sentiment, older structures often get torn down without a second thought, which is a real shame. Not only are unique design elements lost, so is a piece of history. Thankfully, there are places that do their part to preserve historical buildings. Galena, for one, goes above and beyond in this regard. In fact, about 85 percent of the town is considered part of the national historical registry. While there are many buildings worth exploring, these five really stand out: Washburne House Built in 1843, this house was occupied by Elihu B. Washburne and his family for decades. Elihu was a Galena lawyer who eventually became a congressman and a political adviser to both Lincoln and Grant. The house was designed in the Greek revival style, complete with large pillars on the front portico. The interior of the Washburne House has been restored to showcase the “middle-class gentility” of the Victorian era. Dowling House The oldest house in Galena, Dowling House was constructed […]

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What’s in a Name: The Meaning of Galena and How it Shaped This Small Town’s History

Lead Sulfide, Illinois just doesn’t roll off the lips. Galena. Such a striking name. People often ask about its origins when they come to visit this town famous for its Civil War history—as well as being the home of the 18th president of the United States. Just who was Galena? Not who, but what Galena wasn’t named after a person. The city is named for a specific ore that’s found in the region. Indians in the area had been mining it for use in their burial rituals hundreds of years before the first of the city’s European-descended settlers arrived. The ore is commonly known as galena, which is the natural form of lead sulfide. If you’re making anything from or with lead, this is your go-to ore. Initial mining of the ore was attempted by French trappers in the late 1690s. French maps during that time identified the area as mines de plomb—plomb being the French word for lead ore. Unfortunately, these initial galena miners found themselves in constant conflict with the Sioux Indians. Galena wasn’t always called Galena Those early French would-be miners had a different name for the area that would eventually become the city of Galena. They […]

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Abracadabra! The P.T. Murphy Magic Theater and Your Galena Vacation

Here’s why you may want to plan your entire trip around this show Before they plan a vacation, a lot of people create a list of the kinds of the things they want to do while they’re away. This could involve sunbathing, hiking, sight-seeing, and a number of other activities. One thing, however, that isn’t often found on these lists is attending a magic show. But once folks find out about P.T. Murphy, that all changes. Expect for perhaps Vegas, there are not too many cities that can boast their own theater devoted entirely to magic. That’s one of the reasons why Galena, Illinois, is so special. Several days every week, P.T. Murphy performs a spectacular magic show in his very own theater. Located in historic downtown Galena in a building that dates back to the 1840s, the P.T. Murphy Magic Theater only seats 24 people. This means that there’s no bad seat and everyone has the chance to get an up close and personal look at Murphy’s amazing tricks and sleight of hand. The hour-long show is filled to the brim with humor, fun, and of course, some mesmerizing magic. Galena has a lot to offer, but when it comes […]

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