Up in Door travel blog

Galena Historic District

2 million visitors this year - we were proud to do our...

Home of Ulysses S Grant, US President


We have never seen so many choices of hot sauce - this...


Female clerks here are poopets; males are poopers.

DeSoto House Hotel is the oldest operating hotel in Illinois

Town is built on a steep hill - kids cimb these 158...

Another set of 247 steps - Grant used these to go to...

Galena has many beautiful, well-preserved historic homes

This is for real and entails a hefty fine if a driver...

Three-room house: red = bedroom, stone = kitchen, brick = living room

Entry to the Durty Gurty Burger Joynt

Dubuque, IA Yesterday we drove along the Mississippi through Wisconsin and crossed the bridge into Iowa. Today we zipped back over the river into Galena, Illinois, for the day. Galena is a small town known for its well-preserved 19th-century buildings like the 1826 Dowling House. This Italianate-style home was a gift from local citizens to the Civil War general who later became a U.S. president - Ulysses S. Grant. We were told his given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant but he did not like H.U.G. as his initials so he changed his name. We also learned that during the Civil War there were only 15 generals in the Union army and 9 of them came from Galena. Galena millionaire Elihu Washburne helped these generals get their positions. A favorite of Washburne's, Grant was a captain when the war started and in 4 years, he became General of the Army. Grant also had the political backing of Washburne during his run for presidency. Washburne was appointed ambassador to France during the 8 years of Grant’s administration. Galena was at one time the center of the iron industry in the US. During the civil war 80% of the lead used in Federal forces ammunition came from Galena. Galena was so busy that 500 steamships (paddlewheelers)came annually to Galena with supplies and took back iron. By the 1830s, Galena's population had surpassed Chicago. Once the iron industry died out, the town decreased in importance and became a tourist destination. There are 22 B & B’s in old mansions. There is also a lot of great shopping and plenty of stores in which we could sample their wares. We walked the entire historic district and found some fun shops. Who knew that A & W made a BBQ sauce or that there is bacon-flavored popcorn?

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