Galena, Illinois

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Coordinates: 42°25′N 90°26′W / 42.417°N 90.433°W / 42.417; -90.433
Galena Illinois skyline.JPG
Downtown Galena, Illinois
Coat of arms
Name origin: galena, lead sulfide ore[1]
Country United States
State Illinois
County Jo Daviess
Landmark Galena Historic District
River Galena River (Illinois)
Elevation 633 ft (193 m)
Coordinates 42°25′N 90°26′W / 42.417°N 90.433°W / 42.417; -90.433
Area 4.17 sq mi (11 km2)
 - land 4.16 sq mi (11 km2)
 - water 0.01 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 3,429 (2010)
Density 926.4 / sq mi (358 / km2)
Settled 1690s (French)[2]
 - Founded 1826[3]
 - Chartered 1841[3]
Mayor Terrence Renner
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61036
Area code 815
Location of Galena within Illinois

Galena is the largest city in and the county seat of Jo Daviess County, Illinois, United States,[4] with a population of 3,429 at the 2010 census.[5][4] The city is a popular tourist destination known for its history, historical architecture, and ski and golf resorts. Galena was the residence of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals, as well as several entertainers and politicians.


Main Street

Galena has a rich history that is visible in the city's architecture. Originally inhabited by Sac and Fox Native Americans,[3] by the late 17th century, the French began to settle in the area. In the early 19th century, American settlers began to arrive.[6][7] Following a sharp decline in the demand for lead (which had been the city's chief income source during the early 19th century), Galena's population dropped from 14,000 in the mid-19th century, to 3,396 in the early 21st century.[3][8]

Once one of the most important cities in the state, Galena was a hub on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and St. Paul. Due to erosion, the Galena River is now inaccessible to steamboats. Galena received national attention in the 1860s as home of General Ulysses S. Grant.

Galena's official flag was adopted in 1976 to symbolize mining, agriculture, steamboats, and the nine American Civil War generals who lived in the city.[citation needed]

Lead mining[edit]

The city is named for the mineral "galena",[1] the natural form of lead sulfide and the most important lead ore.[9] Native Americans, including the Sac and Fox tribes, mined the ore in Galena for use in body painting.[3] In the 1690s, French trappers discovered the area and began mining the lead.[2][6]

American settlers arrived in the area in the early 19th century. 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.[7] Three years later a trading post was built in Galena that led to the first steamboat arrival in 1824.[7] By 1845 Galena was producing nearly 27,000 tons of lead ore and Jo Daviess County was producing 80 percent of the lead in the United States.[7]


Until the late 1980s, Galena remained a small rural farming community. In 1990, local industries included a Kraft Foods cheese plant, Lemfco Foundry, John Westwick's foundry, and Microswitch, Inc. In the 1980s, Galena Mayor Frank Einsweiler initiated a tourist campaign. 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 Drug have closed their downtown locations. Clingman's and Hartig's have relocated to the outskirts of Galena, while Stair's and Sullivan's closed their doors permanently.[citation needed] In late 2010, Clingman's joined the Hartig's family and moved their pharmacy to Hartig's Drugs location along Highway 20.

The Country Fair in Grant Park has helped guide the change to a tourist town. It is a craft show that attracts thousands of visitors to the area. The once boarded-up Main Street buildings have also been given a rejuvenation in the past two decades.

In 2010 Galena started a campaign called Vision2020, that is modeled after neighbor Dubuque, Iowa's Vision 2010, a committee which gives the community five ideas out of hundreds brought forth in the community that they want Galena to do in the next decade.

Galena has many parades that attract tourism. In 2010, the 32nd annual Halloween Parade attendance was estimated at 15,000.

In 2011, TripAdvisor listed Galena among its top-ten "Charming Small Towns".


US 20/IL 84 bridge over the Galena River

Galena is located at 42°25′5″N 90°25′53″W / 42.41806°N 90.43139°W / 42.41806; -90.43139 (42.418171, −90.431472)[10] along the Galena River, which is one of many tributaries of the Mississippi River.[7]

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 4.17 square miles (10.8 km2), of which 4.16 square miles (10.8 km2) (or 99.76%) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.026 km2) (or 0.24%) is water.[11]

Galena is located in the Driftless Zone, an area that was not covered by glaciers during the recent ice ages.[3] This area, which includes the far northwestern corner of Illinois, escaped glaciation, while almost the entire state was glaciated, nearly to its southern tip.[12] Because it escaped glaciation, this area is known for its hills, valleys, bluffs and considerable exposed rock.[3]

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 1,063 feet (324 m) above surrounding terrain.


Floodgates in downtown Galena

Because of the city's proximity to the Galena River, buildings have been threatened on numerous occasions by flooding. Eventually Frank Einsweiler built a dike to prevent city flooding. Because of this, the bridge for Highway 20 crossing the river was named the Frank Einsweiler memorial bridge.[13] Galena's Congressman, Leo E. Allen, helped acquire funding for city floodgates which were added in 1951 to connect to the river levee system.[13] Significant recorded floods include:

  • 1828 - In Galena's first recorded flood, water was high enough to allow steamboats to travel on city streets.[13]
  • 1937 - A flood inundated Main Street with up to five feet of water, causing serious damage to downtown buildings.[13]
  • 1972 - A storm upstream caused the flood gates to be closed but the river flooded the sewage treatment plan and backed up sanitary and storm sewers. Sand bags were placed around storm manholes to keep water from flooding the downtown with 3' of water.[citation needed]
  • 1993 - Almost eight feet of water threatened downtown Galena, but was stopped by the city's floodgates. Late spring season rainfall led the Mississippi and Galena Rivers to their highest recorded levels.[13][14]
  • 2010 - On July 22, eight inches of rainfall in one night caused the river to swell to twice its usual level. The flood gates were closed, protecting downtown, but many businesses and homes reported damages to basements and lower levels. Had the flood gates not been in place, it was estimated that six feet of water would have covered Main Street. Damages were estimated between $7–8 million. President Obama declared the county a federal disaster area on Aug. 19.[citation needed]
  • 2011 - In a 12-hour period between July 27 and July 28, Galena received between 10 and 15 inches of rain. The Galena River rose to more than twice its normal height and possibly its highest recorded level since the floodgates were erected. The Grant Park sign, built in the 19th century, was washed away and there were major damages to downtown businesses, the city's trail system and roads. Initial damage estimates were around $16 million.[15]


As of the census[16] of 2010, there were 3,429 people, 1,632 households, and 896 families residing in the city. The population density was 819.4 people per square mile (358.2/km2). There were 1,960 housing units at an average density of 470.0 per square mile (188.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.6% White, 0.5% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 3.7% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.3% of the population.

There were 1,632 households out of which 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.0% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.1% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.05 and the average family size was 2.71.In the city the population was spread out with 19.5% under the age of 19, 4.2% from 20 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 24.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44.7 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,409, and the median income for a family was $53,438. Males had a median income of $31,809 versus $30,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,117. About 5.9% of families and 7.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.


Panorama of Galena from the Levee, (left) Methodist Church Steeple, (center right) Lutheran Church Steeple, (right) Presbyterian Church Steeple


Broadcasting host Don McNeill

Galena is a popular tourist destination hosting well over one million visitors each year.[17] Galena is also popular with Chicagoans, many of whom keep second homes in the area.[18][19]


85 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.[2] The Old Market House State Historic Site, built in 1845, is a museum of local social history. Main Street was one of the first in the state to require architectural review of exterior building modifications. Zoning restrictions against wood-structure buildings contributed to the prevalence of brick buildings. All along Main Street the architectural style and historic feel create a unique atmosphere. Efforts to improve the existing infrastructure while preserving the character of this neighborhood continued in 2003 with the adoption of a comprehensive plan. The plan outlines details on burying utilities, replacing parking with bike lanes and several beautification initiatives. This historic district has garnered the attention of dozens of volunteer groups who work to beautify and increase the utility of the area. As the premier street in the second most popular tourist destination in Illinois those planning Main Street must be focused on balancing new developments along the waterway, and the transition to commercial stores with the charm provided by natural areas and long standing businesses. Trolley Cars follow parade routes north and south on Main Street and connect shopping to parks and wineries. [20] Main Street in downtown Galena has a large number of specialty shops and restaurants and a 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.[21] There are also several resorts and golf courses in the Galena area.[22][23]


Galena is home to Galena High School and since 1992, Tri-State Christian School.[24] Since 2007, Highland Community College has offered classes in the city.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Galena Historical Society (June 21, 2006). "History Highlights". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c Galena Area Chamber of Commerce via CommunityLink (November 15, 2004). "Lifestyle, Location & History". Archived from the original on December 5, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g City of Galena. "History". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ United States Census Bureau. "2008 population estimate for Galena city". Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Destination 360 (2007). "Galena Illinois". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  7. ^ a b c d e QuincyNet (August 2, 2005). "Galena". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  8. ^ United States Census Bureau. "2005 population estimate for Galena city". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  9. ^ Mineral Information Institute (October 18, 2004). "Lead". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  11. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  12. ^ Illinois Department of Natural Resources (2007). "Illinois' Natural Divisions". Archived from the original on January 13, 2008. Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Galena Historical Society (June 21, 2006). "A Timeline of Galena History". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  14. ^ Maier, David (April 17, 1998). "Wisconsin Journal, Number 26". Retrieved April 13, 2007. [dead link]
  15. ^ Speck, Addison. "Galena Faces Flood Damage After 13.5 Inches Of Rainfall". KCRG. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  17. ^ Economic Development: Approved comprehensive plan, City of Galena, Illinois, (2003, April 15).
  18. ^ Road Trip America (November 1, 2005). "Tritowns". Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  19. ^ Solomon, A. (2005, June 5). Back to Galena. Chicago Tribune, p. 1, Travel.
  20. ^ APA. "Great Places in America". APA. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  21. ^ DeSoto House Hotel. "DeSoto House Hotel History". Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2007. 
  22. ^ Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. "About Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa". Archived from the original on July 18, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2007. 
  23. ^ Chestnut Mountain Resort. "About us". Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2007. 
  24. ^

External links[edit]