Frozen in Time
Walking along the streets of Galena is like stepping into the colorful pages of a Mark Twain adventure. You'd almost expect ol' Huck Finn to pop in and say hello. In fact, reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with your children before or during your trip is a great way to set the mood for this living history experience in the lush farmlands of northwest Illinois.
copyright Galena, Jo Daviess County CVB
A former antebellum boomtown, Galena was at its heyday in the 19th century as the lead capital of the world. Back then, it was a busy Mississippi River port town with four times the number of today's residents -- among them, former general Ulysses S. Grant.
1857 IL Central Railroad Depot, copy-
right Galena, Jo Daviess County CVB
But the boom went bust in the 1850s, and by the end of the Civil War, Galena was a ghost town. Ironically, poverty is what preserved the town. Lack of funds meant no money to raze old buildings, which went untouched for more than a century.
Main Street, Galena, copyright
Galena, Jo Daviess County CVB
Then, in the 1960s, revivalists moved in and restored just about everything in town, including Queen Anne, Italianate, Greek Revival, and Romanesque Revival mansions. Today 85 percent of Galena, population 3,600, is listed as a National Register Historic District.
You can tour Galena on foot, by trolley, by stagecoach, or on horseback. Of course, the less conventional the mode of transportation, the more fun for your kids!