Much LAZIER than your average blogger  
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5.25.2007 - 44 comments 

The Holiday on Monday is the reason for this early post. First of all in honor of Memorial Day, I want to thank all of the families of those who have lost their lives in the defense of this country. Without those type of sacrifices, none of us would be able to enjoy the freedom that we all seem to take for granted. But, off of my soap box and on to this week's post.

There are so many things to do in this little town of Galena, that I hardly know where to begin. But let me tell you, if you are any sort of American History buff, you could fall in love with this place.

Let's start (as we did) at the Dowling House which is Galena's oldest home. It was an 1826 trading post and residence furnished with many primitives. This was also where we learned about the MUST SEE's in the city. We took a little area map and started hitting theses spots one by one.

Next stop was the Galena History Museum on Bench Street. There we found pictorial history of the Civil War, steam boating, geology exhibits. 1830s lead mine; "Peace In Union" painting. This place (as most of them) did have a video presentation as well as a gift shop.

On to the Old Blacksmith Shop ~ which is an authentic 1897 blacksmith shop, with working forges. It held original tools and equipment from the pre-Civil War days with its own Historian on site. Many of these now seem to do jewelry rather than horseshoes now.

One of my favorite stops in Galena was the Ulysses S. Grant Home. On April 9, 1865: General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, thus ending the American Civil War. Then a few months later on August 18, 1865; the town of Galena celebrated the return of its Civil War hero General Ulysses S. Grant. Following a jubilant procession with much flag waving and speeches, a group of Galena citizens presented the General with a handsome furnished house on Bouthillier Street. The house is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as the U.S. Grant Home State Historic Site.

Grant and his family arrived in Galena in the spring of 1860 and rented a small Federal style brick house. He had ended a fifteen year military career six years earlier, but had enjoyed little business success as a civilian. He hoped to reverse his economic misfortune by moving to northwestern Illinois, where he would work in the Galena store owned by his father and managed by his younger brothers, Simpson and Orvil.

Grant was a clerk in name only; he spent considerable time away from the store, "traveling through the Northwest considerably during the winter of 1860-61. They had customers in all the little towns in south-west Wisconsin, south-east Minnesota, and northeast. Iowa." Until he left Galena in the spring of 1861 to serve in the Civil War, Grant and his wife, Julia, rented a modest brick home on the west side of the river for approximately $100.00 a year.

Close to Grant's Home was a couple of old houses that had been converted to B&B's. One of these had been turned its own very nicely done Tea room. It was called Bernadine's Tea Room. It was just beautiful, so that is where we decide to stop and have lunch. The owner of that place kept coming over to our table trying to convince Mrs. LZ that we NEEDED to spend the night in his newly remodeled B&B which I think was called the Stillman House. He was not able to convince us to stay there much longer than the time it took to complete our meal, but it was fun having him try to persuade us.

The Old Stockade on the Cobblestone Street is a log-built structure that traces Galena history from the 1820s. It is also a Black Hawk War site. Thorough research of the original occupants of Galena was also available there. A reconstructed fort describes the area's Native Americans, its early settlers, the Black Hawk War of 1832. Seasonal living history events go on all year long in Galena.

The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design is an international museum and has a new satellite facility in Galena featuring contemporary art, architecture and photography from around the world. This was one of the few non historic themed places we could find.

Next, was the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum which had a Full-size caboose, both G-scale and HO-scale operating model railroads, artifacts of northwestern Illinois railroads and a lot more railroad paraphernalia.

Local history exhibits on lead mining were also available at the Apple River Fort; The Mining Museum & Rollo Jamison Museum from which you can also tour the 1845 Bevans Lead Mine and ride above-ground 1931 mine train.

The main street in Galena (which is shown here in part of my shot) was literally like a little 1850’s type town only now all the little shops are in fact either restaurants or cute little gift shops full of every kind of historical tourist offering you can imagine. Although this did not do a whole lot for me… Mrs. LZ was just thrilled!

"...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." - General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868