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Galena Country is #AmazingForAll

Posted on May 29, 2020 by Kirsten Bell

Galena Country has a strong history of inclusivity with many residents and businesses championing equality and diversity. To celebrate Pride Month, rainbow flags and stairs have taken over the Galena Pedestrian Bridge in downtown Galena. This warm-hearted community welcomes everyone to visit with Pride and to experience the places and people that make it Amazing for All!

In Galena Country, we encourage people to follow their passions. To take a deep breath. relax and be themselves. Whether exploring the rolling hills of the driftless region, treasure-hunting along Galena's historic Main Street, or indulging in a savory farm-to-table meal, it's a great time to make your way to Galena Country!

Everyone loves a good story. And here, one story always leads to another. Make memories, celebrate each other, and be sure to #AmazingForAll and #GalenaCountry when sharing your story. Plan a one-of-a-kind getaway today, by booking your stay and browsing the digital visitors guide.


Father's Day in Galena Country

Posted on May 20, 2020 by Kirsten Bell

Let’s talk about Dad! We love him more than he knows and, every year on Father’s Day, we shower him with gifts and adoration. Traditionally, it’s socks, ties, and tools that make Dad smile. It’s time for new traditions… break free from the expected and surprise Dad with the gift of Galena Country!

Credit: @trolleydepotcoffee

Galena Country not only offers one-of-a-kind gifts to purchase for Dad but also experiences that you can enjoy together and create special memories. From kayaking and golfing to the plethora of gift shops along Galena’s Main Street, you’ll be able to give Dad nothing less than the best to thank him for all he has done.

Float among the clouds

Is a hot air balloon ride on his bucket listGalena On The Fly will take care of that! Liftoff in one of the largest hot air balloons in the country. Drift above the rolling landscapes of Galena Country while taking in views of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin from your 3,000-foot high perch.

Pedal it out   

Little too high for Dad? Okay… what about renting a couple of bikes from Fever River Outfitters or Nuts Outdoors and cycle along the beautiful Galena River Trail just steps away from downtown Galena? It features towering bluffs and beautiful views of the river. If you complete the 8.8-mile stretch, you will reach stunning views of the Mississippi River at the foot of Chestnut Mountain Resort.

Reel in memories 

Nothing beats a good bonding session while fishing! Fine-tune your fishing skills with a guided fly fishing experience with Galena Fly Fishing Outfitters or spend the day picnicking and fishing at Apple River Canyon State Park. If Dad just wants to float down the river and have you listen to “when I was your age” stories… grab some kayak's from Fever River Outfitters or Nuts Outdoors and get a-floatin’ down the serene Galena River.

Shop for Fan Gear

What’s his favorite team? Whether it’s the lovable losers, winners, or that team only Dad cheers for… the gear to get can be found on Galena’s Main Street. Check out Country Crafts & Sports for sports memorabilia, and Fan Zone for licensed jerseys, shirts, and limited edition team hats. Another great option is For Bare Feet, which offers the largest selection of licensed sports socks made in the USA. Yes, we know… we told you to steer away from the usual socks and ties, but trust us, he will totally rock these team socks! While you’re at it, keep Dad up-to-date on the freshest apparel trends with multiple clothing stores and boutiques found on Galena’s Main Street, such as The Cotton ClubGalena Teesand The Neighborhood Co.

Cigars and Coffee

Cigars have been linked to celebrations, forming bonds, or just kicking back and relaxing for over a thousand years. It sounds like a good way to celebrate Dad's special day. Find premium hand made cigars at Nine Generals Cigar Company as well as a selection of men's grooming accouterments and barware! If Dad is a coffee lover, he's in for a treat! Spoil him with a gift box from Trolley Depot Coffee & Tea Co. or signature blend locally roasted coffee from Galena RoastersBill Bill's Coffee, or Mean Bean Roasters.

Golf Par Excellence

Challenge Dad to a round of golf at one of Galena Country’s scenic Golf Courses or enjoy the Drive 20 Golf Trail! Can you believe there are ten courses to choose from in Galena Country? Remember to let him win and then celebrate his winnings with a glass of wine from one of the area's four award-winning wineries when you get home!

Reconnect with nature 

There's no better way to relax Dad than to get him outdoors and surrounded him with nature! Take him birding at the Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary in Stockton, featuring more than 100 bird species and 6.6 miles of mowed trails on 409 acres. Notable Illinois species of conservation concern include the Henslow’s sparrow, bobolink, red-headed woodpecker, and northern harrier. Explore the many other parks and trails throughout Galena Country too.

Brews and Burgers

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a burger served with hand-cut fries from Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt before heading to Galena Brewing Co. for a growler filled with Dad's favorite brew to enjoy at home. In the mood for pizza instead? Stop at Wally’s Pizza in Warren which is conveniently located next door to Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House. If he’s more of a spirits kinda guy, treat him to some fine whiskey from Blaum Bros. Distilling Company. Click here for more dining options.

We know the importance of taking the time for the things that matter most, whatever you choose to do for Dad in Galena Country, you will make it a memorable Father's Day!


Enjoy a picnic in Galena Country

Posted on May 15, 2020 by Kirsten Bell

As the weather invites us outside with its blue skies and fresh breeze coupled with blossoming blooms and cheerful bird chirps, it’s hard to resist the urge to picnic! With social distancing in place, it’s an ideal way to dine safely with your family. Credit: @lindseytaylorphotography Sit in the sun or the shade of a mossy tree, take your shoes off and lie back in the cool grass, all while enjoying delicious treats and the company of loved ones while chasing a flying napkin or two. Speaking of chasing things... your fur baby would love a new frisbee from New Earth Animals to enjoy at the picnic!

What’s in the basket?

Part of the adventure is the unveiling of what has been packed in the basket! Let’s take a peek at the deliciousness that awaits: A selection of gourmet cheeses, sausages, and pâtés from Galena River Wine and Cheese, freshly baked bread and pastries from Tammy’s Piggly Wiggly and delicious sandwich meat from Pat’s Country House Grocery. Digging a little deeper, we have tasty dips and spreadables from Galena Canning Co. and the Grateful Gourmet Co., as well as yummy gourmet popcorn from the Great American Popcorn Co. Oh, what’s this we have here… some chocolate covered strawberries from Galena’s Kandy Kitchen for dessert. Yum!

What’s in the cooler bag?

No picnic is complete without a refreshing beverage! Pack a bottle of wine from one of Galena Country’s award-winning wineries or a growler of flavorful locally brewed beer! Looking for something a little different? Substitute the wine and beer with a cocktail kit from Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. or from Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape for the perfect sundowner! Cheers!

Great spots to lay down your picnic blanket

Casper Bluff Not only does this preserve boast some of the most commanding views of the Mississippi River and its backwater sloughs but the site also contains Native American mounds which were created centuries prior by local natives of the land. The most fascinating mound being the Thunderbird Effigy Mound, the only one known of its kind in Illinois. Gramercy Park Located on the bluff in East Dubuque overlooking the Mississippi River, this 10-acre city park is an Illinois Natural Heritage Landmark. It is home to 26 ceremonial and burial mounds from the Hopewell Native American Culture. Grant Park Pack a bottle of bubbles for the kids from Gabby’s Gifts or Poopsie’s online stores and enjoy a picnic in this historic and scenic park! Take in the stunning views of the city of Galena, watch the trains go by and check out the historic cannons and monuments. It’s selfie time with U.S Grant! Horseshoe Mound This 40-acre preserve offers one of the most scenic outlooks in Galena Country! The breathtaking views stretch across three states. Take a closer look through the viewing scopes! After your picnic, enjoy the hiking trails that extend throughout the preserve. Wapello Land and Water Reserve Based on its significance as a meshing point of two Native American cultures, this 79-acre site south of Hanover, was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places. It now boasts one of the premier prairie restorations in the Midwest. It's true. You can't change time. But if you spend it right, it can change you. Make the most of your time with a perfect picnic, making memories...where one good story always leads to another!


Walking Tour of Downtown Galena

Posted on May 1, 2020 by Kirsten Bell

With over 87% of its buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Galena's prominent past remains a permanent fixture. The architectural achievements of the men who discovered wealth in the region's rich lead deposits and profitable river commerce are best viewed while walking on foot. Credit: @jcbgrss This self-guided walking tour of downtown Galena identifies the community's diverse 19th century architectural styles and recounts the lives of the captivating individuals who first settled the steeply elevated terrain. The tour length is one hour. For your enjoyment, we recommend a comfortable pair of walking shoes and bottled water. Bring a camera or a pair of binoculars to capture the tour's breathtaking views. Please note that most of the locations on the tour are private and we ask that you remain respectful while enjoying the tour. Finally, walk at your own pace and have fun exploring Galena's magnificent architectural treasures!

1. Galena River Levee & Floodgates:

Built by the Army Corps of Engineers 1948-51, this large earthen levee with flood gates protects the downtown business district from periodic flooding, the worst of which was in 1937. This flood left up to five feet of water along Main Street. Visitors often ask how often the floodgates are used. Normally they might be closed only once every few years, usually when the ice leaves the river in the spring.

2. Corwith Building - 319 S. Main St.

Constructed in 1853 with a major facelift in 1873 and home of Nathan Corwith’s Bank of Galena. The Corwiths were prominent businessmen from New York. Nathan Corwith left Galena in 1874 and moved to Chicago. He died in 1888, worth over $6 million.

3. Davis Block – 304-310 S. Main St.

These were the first, all brick blocks in Galena, consisting of five stores, constructed in 1846. Locally produced Galena brick is noted for its orange color and inner softness. For this reason, city ordinance requires they be cleaned chemically to prevent damage to the hard outer surface. Within this block, one of Galena's nine Civil War Generals, John C. Smith, had his jewelry store at 306 S. Main, and the town's most infamous lawyer, M.Y. Johnson had his law office on the second floor of 304 S. Main. He was arrested in 1862 for southern sympathies but later released for lack of evidence. Galena fires: Every early city suffered from a devastating fire. Galena was no exception. Major fires in the 1840s led to ordinances which encouraged downtown commercial structures to be built of brick or stone. Still, the worst fire of all occurred in 1856, taking out several critical blocks. A building boom ensued, all in brick.

4. Old High School Steps

Located across from the DeSoto House Hotel, the stairway has been there since the 1850s. Wooden steps were replaced by concrete in 1919 and again in 1996. In addition to hilltop residents, the steps served hundreds of school children who used them morning, noon, and afternoon. They were walking to the large building on the hill with a square clock tower. This is the Old High School which was built in 1905 and converted in the 1980s to condominiums.

5. Desoto House Hotel – 230 S. Main St.

It opened in 1855. DeSoto is the oldest operating hotel in Illinois. It was named for the discoverer of the Mississippi - Hernando DeSoto. Investors included Jesse Grant, father of Ulysses. Both Lincoln and Douglas spoke from the balcony, although on separate occasions. Grant's presidential campaign headquarters were here in 1868. The original structure had five floors and 225 rooms, but lack of business, foundation settling, and fire insurance problems led to the top two floors being removed in 1880. Completely renovated in 1985-86.

6. DeSoto House Hotel Parking Garage:

The original facades of Main Street buildings were kept for historic appearance. The hotel project could not have proceeded without this solution to off-street parking. The garage site was originally a livery stable for the famous Frink and Walker Stage Line out of Chicago during the 1840s and early 1850s.

Side Trip: U.S. Post Office (Green & Commerce Streets):

This is the second oldest continuously owned and operated Post Office in America. The second floor served as the Customhouse, and the first floor served as Post Office. The Renaissance Revival style utilized by architect Ammi B. Young was the first standardized style to be used by the government throughout the nation. Superintendent of Construction was engineer Ely Parker; a Seneca Indian raised on a reservation in New York. When the foundation was laid, he had it stacked with bars (pigs) of lead equal to the weight of the completed structure to settle the foundation. Later the lead was sold and shipped downriver. The structure was then completed with Nauvoo limestone from the same quarries that supplied stone for the Mormon Temple. Today the building is as solid as when it was built. Note: Ely S. Parker was one of the most famous Native Americans in U.S. history. He studied to become a lawyer only to be told by New York State that Indians could not become lawyers. He then became an engineer, was hired by the federal government and sent to Galena to build the customhouse/post office. While here, he met Grant. Volunteering for the Union with the outbreak of the Civil War, he was turned down because of his race, only to be accepted a year later. Grant made him his personal military secretary; he was breveted a brigadier general at the end of the war and later became President Grant's Commissioner of Indian Affairs, only to resign when he created a storm of controversy by sending emergency food rations to starving Plains Indians prior to congressional authorization.

7. Schmohl Building (St. Louis Building) - 201 S. Main St.

John and Lena Schmohl emigrated from Germany in the 1850s and opened a millinery store at this site. In 1886, Lena, having lost her husband, built this building and installed Galena's first hydraulic elevator. Her apartment was in back along Bench Street. She was a respected business leader long before most women had the opportunity. The second Schmohl Building 213-217 (the white building) was built in 1884.

8. Coatsworth Building - 126 S. Main St.

Built by Joseph Coatsworth and Daniel Barrows in 1856-57. Utilized premium Milwaukee Cream City bricks, cast iron pillars, lintels, and sills. J.R. Grant promptly leased the 120 S. Main section for his leather goods store. It was here that Ulysses came to work in 1860. Major restoration occurred in the late 1970s - the building now houses apartments for seniors.

9. Newhall Drug Store - 101-103 S. Main St.

Built-in 1843 by Galena’s foremost physician/pharmacist Horatio Newhall, a Yale graduate, who also published the "Miners Journal," Galena’s first newspaper in 1828. But his most notable work was in treating Cholera victims during the dreaded 1832 and 1848 outbreaks. His observations on the disease and its spread are considered some of the best of the period. Note the small attic windows in the frieze, typical of the 1840s Greek Revival structures.

10. Hempstead Store - 100 N. Main St.

Built-in the Greek Revival style in 1846. Charles Hempstead was the first mayor of Galena, elected in 1841. Prior to this, the town was governed by a board of trustees and president. "City" status was given by the act of the legislature; Jo Daviess County's other "city" is East Dubuque; all other towns in the county are villages. The second floor also housed the law office of John A. Rawlins, another of Galena's nine Civil War generals who became Grant's Chief of Staff.

11. Brush Building - 120 N. Main St.

Circa 1837, this was the first large store to be constructed in the downtown of brick. Note federal style stepped gables (double-chimney) and prominent roof dormers.

12. Perry Street

Also known as the "cobblestone" street, although the stone was laid down as a deterrent to erosion, not as a paving stone. Maintaining control of horses and wagons on steep hills was a constant danger in early Galena (some say it still is...)

13. The Old Stockade - 208 Perry St.

Trader Amos Farrar's house became part of Galena's stockade during the 1832 Black Hawk War. A refuge for women and children, the upright timbers placed along the sill shows French "post and sill" influence. Restored to the 1890s appearance. Note: To locate the Old Stockade, take the first staircase at the corner of Perry and Main Streets. Proceed up the stairs halfway to the Old Stockade's entrance, a limestone walkway on the left.

Side Trip: Old Market House - 123 N. Commerce St.

This State Historic Site, built in the Greek Revival style in 1845, once sheltered both vendors and shoppers. It continues to entice visitors with its historic U.S Grant exhibits and events. It also serves as the official Welcome Center for Galena Country Tourism.

14. Meusel Cigar Factory - 208-210 N. Main St.

This 1888 Italianate commercial building housed one of Galena’s many 19th-century cigar manufactories. It was home to the Standard Cigar Factory. Tobacco was also a cash crop for some county farmers, particularly in the Stockton area, up until the 1890s.

15. John Dowling Building - 213 N. Main St.

Constructed in 1837 of native limestone. The southern half was purchased by the County and used as the courthouse from 1838 until the present courthouse was completed in 1844. The original building had a gable roof. Interestingly, the street level here was originally much lower; the main entrance in 1838 entered what is now the basement!

16. Flat Iron or Diagonal Building - 222 N. Main St.

The original building housed Bradley/Taylor House hotels and was three stories. Destroyed by fire in 1876. New Italianate structure was only two floors and has housed everything from the People's Bank (original safe still there) to a Justice of the Peace.

17. John Dowling House - 216 Diagonal St.

The Dowling House is located just left of Main Street on Diagonal Street. This vernacular structure is one of Galena's oldest, constructed circa 1826-27. Dowling was a trader who quickly became the largest iron dealer on the Upper Mississippi. Here you could buy stoves, hinges, nails, picks, and shovels. Note: Turn right on Franklin Street and proceed one block to Commerce Street to view the Old Blacksmith Shop.

18. Old Blacksmith Shop - (Corner of Commerce and Franklin St.)

At one time, Galena had more than two dozen operating blacksmith shops. Today the little red wood-frame structure is the only one that remains. Built-in 1897, most of the original tools including two forges and equipment are on display. Throughout our history, Galena Country has proudly never been like anywhere else. We may be old but we're never the same old thing!