Galena Facts

  • Galena” is Latin for lead sulfide.
  • In the peak year of 1845, the mining district, with Galena as its hub, produced almost 85% of the nation’s lead.
  • The “Lead Rush” preceded the California “Gold Rush” by 20 years.
  • Galena claimed 9 residents who reached the rank of General for service rendered during the Civil War.
  • Ulysses S. Grant, Galena’s most famous citizen, moved to town in 1860, one year before the outbreak of the Civil War.
  • So much of Galena’s original architecture remains that over 85% of the community is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Furnace smelting lead in the 1870’s

The same scene today


How Many Galenas are there?

Galena, Illinois is probably the most famous, but there are any others, most named after the mineral. Long-time historical society member Ed Ganshirt has been collecting Galenas. Here’s a sampling of what he has found.

The town is on the north bank of the Yukon River, 270 miles west of Fairbanks. The population is 550 and the town is accessible by air year round and by river between May and September. The Air Force has recently reduced the size of the air base, but some new housing developments are being built.

It was a village in the mining area that is now the city of Bisbee and was probably named after a railroad siding that served some of the mines in the area. Bisbee is in the southeast part of the state and is made up of several villages that were copper mining areas. What was Galena is bounded by Highway 82, School Terrace Road, and Bisbee Road.

Only the cemetery exists at this time. The peak population of 75 was reached circa 1900. It is in Howard County in the southwest part of the state

There are at least three Galena areas in Colorado. Galena or Camp Galena is in Fremont County a few miles south of Canon City. All that remains is an old log cabin. Galena City, nine miles west of Lake City, was established in 1877. The founder had ambitions to be governor and renamed the town Capitol City. There are two old log cabins in the area and some new homes have been built nearby. Another Galena is mentioned in “Guide to Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps.” It is in Schofield County near Gunnison. Galena Mountain is near Silverton.

It is now a ghost town 229 miles northwest of Ketchum. It was a mining settlement and had nearly disappeared by 1890. In the area is Galena Peak, Galena Summit, and Galena Gulch. Sun Valley ski area is on Galena Summit.

This is an unincorporated area on route 150 about 10 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky. It is a bedroom community with a population of five to seven thousand.

The Galena (IL) Gazette reported in 1886 that a group of Germans from there had established a settlement near Sioux City near the headwaters of the Perry River.

This city was an important lead mining area and mined most of the lead needed during the Civil War after the mines in Galena, Illinois couldn’t fill the demand. It is a town of about 3330 located in the extreme southeast corner of Kansas.

Founded in 1762, it now has a population of 350. Its lead mines also produced silver.It is 65 miles east of Baltimore and 75 miles north of Washington, DC. It is tourist oriented and has antique shops and marinas.

In 1814, John Henry Cox bought several estates in the area and moved his five sons and several hundred slaves there. The plantation was named “Galena” after a Scottish mineral that signified “peace.” The house still stands, but there is no town of Galena. There is a Galena School near the location. The area is about 10 miles southwest of Holly Springs on Route 4 in Marshall County.

The town is the county seat of Stone County in the southwestern part of the state. About 400 people live there now. It was an important mining area. The principal industry is the county government. All of the county buildings are there.

The Galena area in Dodge County in southeastern Nebraska was laid out as a town, but no one ever lived there. Hayes County in southwestern Nebraska is the location of another Galena. Martinsburg is in the northeast part of the state, (51 people) and is in Galena Township. May have been named Galena when first established.

This state has two Galenas. One is in a region in the south part of Reno and the other is toward the center of the state near Battle Mountain. Only a couple of shacks remain there. There is a Galena High School in Reno. The area is suburban in nature and nearly 500 homes have been built there. It is in the high desert. Galena Creek runs through the area and Galena forest starts at about 500 feet in the mountains at the edge of Galena.

New York
It is now called North Norwich. It is also known as Galena Station.

This is a town of about 400 located 12 miles northeast of Columbus. It probably was named after the Galena Shale that was quarried in the area. The shale was pulverized and used to make bricks. The brick works closed recently.

Galena is in the northeast part of the state. It is about 100 miles from the Idaho state line and the same distance from the Washington state line. It was probably named Galena because it was near a large body of lead sulfide (galena). It is in Grant County which was named after U.S. Grant. The post office closed in 1943.

Galena Hill is now known as Miller Park. Charles Miller started the Galena Oil Company in Franklin. The lubricating oil contained galena and was said to lubricate over ninety percent of the railroads in the country. Miller also owned the Galena Navigation Company which operated the steamer Franklin between ports in New York and Houston. Houston has a suburb named Galena Park which named after the Galena Signal Oil Company, a subsidiary of the Galenas Oil Company of Franklin, PA.

South Dakota
This town is in Lawrence County near Lead and Deadwood in the west central part of the state. It was named after the lead mines, but more silver was produced there than was lead. There are 19 full time residents and some summer homes.

Houston has a suburb named Galena Park. It has a population of about 10,000 and was named after the Galena Signal Oil Co.(see Pennsylvania above)

To quote the President of the Wythe County Historical Society, “It is little more than a wide spot in the road (US52) centered on the Galena Presbyterian Church.” It was a lead mining region.

The town in Snohomish County was a boom town during the gold rush, but was named because of the lead in the area. There is a site on the west side of Spokane named Galena. The four Galena lakes are in Whatcom County in the northwest part of the state. Another Galena existed 30 miles form Roslyn in Kittitas County.

Galena is in a region of Western Australia known as the Mid West.

British Columbia, Canada
Galena Bay is on the Upper Arrow Lake southeast of Revelstoke. It is a small community named after the mineral.

There are all sorts of businesses and buildings that have the name Galena. In Galena, Illinois there are dozens. Across the globe in other mining communities businesses have also taken the name; Galena Computing Service on the Isle of Wight in Great Britain and a store in Santiago, Chile that sells bed linens, towels, etc.  In the immediate area: Dubuque, IA and Freeport, IL have Galena Streets.