Cultural Heritage · Historic Towns · intercity transit · Mobility · Rivers · travel plan

The Galena Illinois Historic District

History Tourism Geography the Environment and Main Street

History the French arrived in the 1650s and called Galena La Pointe; the early American settlers who reached the area in 1821 adopted this name as The Point; by 1828, it became the largest steamboat hub on the Mississippi between St Louis and St Paul, with shipments of lead ore and control of the mines by the US Government as local native tribes permitted settlers to mine in established areas in Galena.

Downtown Galena IllinoisGalena is Named for a Mineral Mined by Native Americans for a thousand Years

However, the growth of the city led settlers to encroach on native land claims, seeking new veins of lead, resulting in the Winnebago War. Following a sharp decline in the demand for lead, Galena’s population dropped from 14 thousand in the mid-19th century, to 3,396 in the early 1900s.

The Galena Historic District is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Tourism until the late 1980s, Galena remained a small rural farming community. The Country Fair in Grant Park has helped the town’s transition to tourism. The craft show attracts visitors to the area and once boarded-up Main Street buildings have been preserved.

Galena Historic PropertyPresident Ulysses S Grant and Eight Other Civil War Generals Came from Galena

Geography the Galena River is part of the Driftless Area of Wisconsin and Illinois. It is 52.4-miles – 84.3 km – long and flows through the city before joining the Mississippi. Because it escaped glaciation, this region is known for its hills, valleys, bluffs and exposed rock; Horseshoe Mound is located outside Galena and is 1,063 feet – 324 m- above sea level.

Galena FloodgatesEnvironment Because of the city’s proximity to the Galena River, buildings have been threatened on numerous occasions by flooding. In 2011, over a 12-hour period, Galena received nearly 15 inches of rain and he Galena River rose to more than twice its normal height. A dike and floodgates were built to prevent flooding of the city.

Main Street was among the first to require the architectural review of exterior building modifications. Also, zoning restrictions contributed to the prevalence of brick buildings and efforts to improve the existing infrastructure while preserving the character of this neighborhood. Trolley Cars follow parade routes north and south on Main Street and connect shopping to parks and wineries. Main Street in Galena has specialty shops, restaurants and is home to DeSoto House Hotel which opened in 1855 and is the oldest operating hotel in Illinois.

Main Street GalenaReduce Travel Times and Costs on Your Next Vacation or Business Trip

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