A Fine Labor Day in Galena, Illinois

From Freeport, IL, where I’m staying, I drove west 55 miles to Galena. Thought it would be rainy, but by just after noon it cleared and was perfect weather. Difficult to find a parking spot but eventually found one on a side street and walked to the main street pictured above. Signed up for the trolley tour, a great way to see the city and hear the history of this unique community. After that I walked the streets, and though it was busy with many people, it didn’t feel crowded. It felt similar to  walking in Stillwater, MN, if any of you have been there, but this main street was much longer.

A wide variety of shops and eating places to choose from, but not tacky and touristy. Many bed and breakfasts in the area and a few hotels on the edge of the city. Eventually I ate at Gobbie’s Sports Bar and ordered the gyros plate. Got breadsticks and a light, fine Greek salad before the gyros came, with fries. All for about $12.

US Grant’s father had a tannery in Galena, and Grant worked here for a time. On the trolley tour we saw where Grant lived, up the hill from the main street. Up lots of steps. The black and white photo below shows the leather shop, and some claim that the man standing in front is Grant. Not for sure, but you can see the shop along the curved frontage of main street.

Also after the Civil War, the city gave the Grant family a city on the east side of the city. Normally tours of the home were given but for some strange reason, on this busy Labor Day weekend, there were no tours. He and Julia are buried in Grant’s Tomb on the upper west side of New York City.



6 Replies to “A Fine Labor Day in Galena, Illinois”

  1. Joanne Sorenson says: Reply

    My Uncle and his wife, Stan and Jane, lived in Galena although I have only visited twice. Sometime I would really like to spend more time, it was a cool town.

    1. Hi Joanne, to be honest it would be nice to spend more time here, but I’ve found a couple days will get a person around pretty well. Population about 4,000 so it isn’t a large city. I’m still going to get down to that Holy Hill Cathedral down toward Milwaukee. They remodeled and are now open again; would want to go to write and live the simple life for a couple nights.

  2. I have been to Stillwater probably 50 times since I’ve lived in Minnesota. Would love to go to Galena and soak in all that history.

    1. Brad, I’m not a crowd person but the atmosphere here is so friendly, so roomy, so beautiful with all that brick. It’s like you took the four blocks of Stillwater and doubled it; and for some reasons lots of holiday people but not shoulder to shoulder. No franchises, of course, on the main drag, bed and b kind of high priced but lots of them. I toured the Grant home a few years ago, how revealing and insightful to learn about Grant and his family. Headed to cheese country tomorrow in Monroe, then on to Mineral Point–another historic and wonderful little community with a lot of history. Hope you aren’t getting too much rain, Brad.

  3. Carrie Wilhelm says: Reply

    Sounds like an interesting little town with a rich history and a lively Main Street. I am enjoying your daily doses of writing and photos.?

    1. Carrie, tell me how you’re doing? thanks for the note, I have readers like you in mind when I write. Took that trip with no expectations and got a lot out of it. Grant was a unique man and general. Thinking of you down there.

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