Galena History MuseumGalena & U.S Grant Museum

Galena Country is known for its well-preserved, 19th-century architecture and Ulysses S. Grant history, but there's even more to discover in this historically amazing destination! From the origins of Kraft Cheese to one of the earliest African-American churches in Illinois, Galena Country is loaded with stories of yesteryear, making it a cultural cornerstone where the past meets the present.

The Blackhawk War of 1832

In 1832, a faulty treaty caused a 15-week war between American settlers and Native Americans led by the Sauk warrior Black Hawk. Today, remains of the conflict are ingrained in the rich history of Galena Country. Explore more about this war with a visit to Apple River Fort State Historic Site in Elizabeth, where the intense battle took place. Interact with reenactors and discover how the town of Elizabeth was given its name. Stop at E-town Coffee Co., Lola’s Deli, or Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe to fuel up for the next venture.

Travel Tip: While in Elizabeth, stop by the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum. This museum, located in a former Chicago Great Western Railway station, showcases the Chicago Great Western Railway's history and heritage and offers insights into its impact on regional transportation and commerce.

Cannons in Grant Park

Stroll Grant Park and study the extraordinary cannons and monuments that overlook the Galena River. The “Blakely of Grant Park” fired some of the first shots in the Battle of Fort Sumter and “Napoleon,” commonly used in the Civil War. Perfect for a picnic and a book, Grant Park offers some of the best views in Galena Country! Interested in seeing a cannon in action? Visit during Grant's Homefront Civil War Reenactment in April or Galena's 4th of the July celebrations, you'll know it when you hear it!

Galena’s Nine Generals

Did you know? Galena is the only location in the United States home to not one but nine Civil War generals? That's right, including Grant himself! His home, the Ulysses S. Grant Home, is now a historic site open to the public, offering a window into the life of this prominent American leader. Visitors can also book a stay in the pre-civil war home of Ulysses S. Grant, which has undergone an extensive restoration and is currently operating as a luxurious vacation rental.

All nine generals left an important impact on the town that can still be discovered in buildings, street names, and local history. The city’s support for the Union cause is commemorated in various monuments and historic sites, such as the DeSoto House Hotel, where Lincoln and Douglas both campaigned, and the Elihu B. Washburne House, home to one of Grant’s closest advisors. 

Consider booking a stay at the Augustus Chetlain Home and Log Cabin Guest Houses, and visit the First United Methodist Church built by General John Corson Smith. You can even sit in the pew that the Grant Family sat in. When exploring downtown Galena, take note of the unique architecture currently occupied by the United States Post Office. Once a Customs House, this unique building was designed and built by Native American General, Ely S. Parker. A great photo-op, this piece of history is the second-oldest continuously operating postal facility in the United States!


Galena boasts one of the best-preserved collections of 19th-century architecture in the United States. The entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Walking through the streets of Galena feels like stepping back in time, with beautifully restored buildings showcasing various architectural styles, including Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate.

The Galena Historic District, spanning more than 85% of the city, is a testament to the town’s historical significance. The district includes over 800 properties, each with its own unique story. Notable buildings include the Dowling House, Galena's oldest house, built of native limestone in 1826 as a trading post and residence. Explore other historic sites, such as the elegant Belvedere Mansion and the fascinating Old Blacksmith Shop, for a deeper appreciation of the town's rich heritage.

Travel Tip: Join General Ulysses S. Grant himself for a historic walking tour down Main Street, where you will learn factual stories about early Galena, lead mining, steamboating, and General Grant in the Civil War.

Lead Mining and the Driftless Area

The unique geography and lead mining history of Galena Country have impacted almost everything in the area, from the distinct red “Galena brick” buildings to the size of the Galena River. At one time, this bustling lead mining city was larger than Chicago. At the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum, you can check out a real lead mine, learn about how glaciers shaped the region during the Ice Age, and discover how Galena Country came to be!

Travel Tip: Explore Galena via Trolley Tour! Sit back, relax, and listen as a tour guide shares historical facts and information about Galena and its incredible architecture.

The Origins of Kraft Cheese

A brand and flavor many of us have savored, Kraft cheese originated right here in Galena Country, in Stockton! Take a step back in time and learn about Kraft and much more at the Stockton Heritage Museum. After snapping a selfie with one of the original wagons used to transport the cheese, stroll the streets and discover Adventures in Stockton, a self-guided walking tour of Stockton's historic Main Street.

Red Stripe Beer

It’s Jamaican, right? Guess again! Red Stripe Beer was crafted in the original Galena Brewing Company in the 1830’s. When the brewery closed in 1938, the recipe was sold to two British investors who moved the company to Jamaica and made the drink world-famous during World War II. Today, the Galena Brewing Company is located on Galena’s Historic Main Street and features craft micro-brews, seasonal flavors, and six styles on tap. Tours, tastings, and a giant pretzel are a must-do!

The Secret of the Sunken Garden

This hidden gem, nestled among the cascading greenery of Linmar Gardens, features the remains of an African-American Baptist Church. Today the walls of the basement and a “Baptismal Font” fountain serve as a reminder of the building’s history as one of the oldest African-American churches in Illinois.

Galena Country has a fascinating history, and today, this history is preserved for you to enjoy! Book your stay at one of the award-winning accommodations and plan to take the historic and scenic route along Stagecoach Trail when traveling to Galena. Browse the official visitor's guide for even more insider tips!

Two people are cycling past an antique shop on a sunny street in Galena, Illinois.

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