History

Whoa! I didn’t know THAT!

Galena, Illinois is chalk full of history. From the homes of General Ulysses S. Grant to the haunted B&B’s, Galena’s rich history will have you running for the library to learn more.

All of the following locations are available to visit and tour. Some are free, some ask for a donation, and others charge a fee for the tour. Follow the links for more information and directions for each!

All About a Ghost Tour

Check out this walking tour of researched, authentic stories about Galena’s ghostly past & present. (In the DeSoto House Hotel! (www.desotohouse.com) Directions

Amelia’s Galena Ghost Tours

“As fate would have it, you will also get a chance to see some of the beautiful, yet ‘haunted’ locations and Victorian homes as well as our oldest cemetery in town…. but from the dark side of history.” (Check it out here!) Directions

Annie Wiggins Ghost Tour

Join this tour for a taste of Galena’s sites, cemeteries and ghostly tales.
(More info here!) Directions

The DeSoto House Hotel

The DeSoto House Hotel was opened in April of 1855 as the “Largest Hotel in the West”. At the time of its opening, the building consisted of 5 stories and a lower level. It boasted 225 guest rooms, a gentleman’s reading room, ladies’ parlors, a 300 seat dining hall, retail stores, offices, a saloon, a bowling alley, and electricity. Among the hotel’s notable occupants, President Abraham Lincoln spoke from the Main Street balcony in 1856. Two years later, Senator Stephen A. Douglas spoke from the same balcony. After Ulysses S. Grant’s return home from the Civil War, a reception ball for 2,000was held in the DeSoto House. Grant later used rooms 209 and 211 as his presidential campaign headquarters. (Read more about the DeSoto House here!) Directions

The Dowling House

Galena’s oldest home, the Dowling House, was built in 1826. It was once the only trading post in the city. The house was primitively furnished and housed many fur traders in its past. Learn all about the Dowling House during the Galena Dowling House Guided Tours. (Check it out here!) Directions

Elihu B. Washburne’s House

The Washburne House was constructed in 1843. It housed Galena Attorney, U.S. Congressman, political advisor to Abraham Lincoln & Ulysses S. Grant, and ambassador to France, Elihu B. Washburne. The house had only one resident family until 1968 when it was purchased by the State of Illinois as a historic site. (Learn more about the Washburne House here!) Directions

Galena Carriage Co.

Historic carriage rides, dinner rides, romance and roses! Enjoy the rhythmic “clip clop” sounds while on a scenic tour of Galena. (More info here!) Directions

Galena & U.S. Grant Museum

Offering exhibits on U.S. Grant, the wars, leadmining, transportation, commerce and much more pertaining to the Galena, IL area, the museum allows you a glance into Galena’s rich historic past. (More information here!) Directions

Galena Trolley Depot

Enjoy a city tour of Galena aboard a trolley! Tour of homes, with history mixed throughout; nightly ghost tours also available. (More info here!) Directions

Linmar Gardens

A guided tour of breathtaking 3.5 acre gardens with seven water features. (More info here!) Directions

Old Market House

Constructed in 1845-46, the Old Market House was at the heart of community life in Galena. The house sheltered vendors and shoppers in the river city’s business district until 1910. Today the Market House is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and holds many exhibits, meetings and special events. (Learn more here!) Directions

The Old Stockade

To prepare for the Blackhawk war of 1832, the Old Stockade building was erected as a refuge for women and children of the area. (More information about the Old Stockade is available here!)

Tri-State Trolley

Daily narrated tours from inside a climate-controlled trolley! Wedding transportation also offered. (More info here!) Directions

Other historic sites & museums in the surrounding area (most within about a 45 minute drive from Galena):

Apple River Fort State Historic Site – Elizabeth, IL

Located in Elizabeth, IL (about 20 minutes from Galena), the Apple River fort was the site of one of the battles fought during the Blackhawk war. Blackhawk and his 200 warriors attacked the fort on June 24, 1832. (Learn more here!) Directions

Crystal Lake Cave - Dubuque, IA

Enjoy an underground, guided tour of nature’s masterpiece through 3,000 feet of crystal menagerie. (More info here!) Directions

Elizabeth History Museum – Elizabeth, IL

Offering a glimpse into the area’s past, the Elizabeth History Museum holds more than four thousand local historical artifacts, including exhibits on businesses, schools, veterans and lead mining. (More information here!) Directions

Gramercy Park - East Dubuque, IL

Located in East Dubuque, IL (just 20 short minutes outside Galena), Gramercy Park is a ten acre park overlooking the Mississippi river. Its claim to fame is that it is site to 26 ceremonial and burial mounds of the Hopewell Native American culture, circa 200-500 AD. The site includes hiking trails, a pavilion, restroom, playground area and of course, a scenic overlook. (More information here!) Directions

The House on the Rock - Spring Green, WI (about 1 hr, 15 min.)

Check out this architectural masterpiece! Eclectic collections and incredible stories await you at Alex Jordan’s imaginary and awe-inspiring, man-made retreat! (More info here!) Directions

The Mining Museum & Rollo Jamison Museum – Platteville, WI

The Mining Museum of Platteville, WI (about 40 minutes north of Galena), traces the lead and zinc mining history of the Upper Mississippi Valley from its beginnings in the 1820′s until its end in 1979. The museum even takes you underground and into the past to see how the miners freed the rock and brought it to the surface. (Learn more here!) The Rollo Jamison section of the museum is a collection of hundreds of arrow heads found on Rollo Jamison’s family farm as well as many antique/historical artifacts from the surrounding area. (More info here!) Directions

Railway Museum – Elizabeth, IL

Also located in Elizabeth, the railway museum offers an extensive collection of railroad memorabilia. Here, you can learn more about how the railroad played an important role in the heritage of northwestern Illinois. (Learn more here!) Directions

Stockton Heritage Museum – Stockton, IL

The Stockton Heritage Museum (about 40 minutes east of Galena), is located in a beautifully restored 1890′s building. Here you can check out the Chicago Great Western Railroad replica and learn how the Kraft Foods empire began in Stockton, IL! (More info here!)