The marker is located east of Galena at a road side rest area park where IL 84 and U.S. Rt. US 20 come together. It is on the north side of the highway. There is a large observation tower at the site.
Illinois Department of Transportation and The Illinois State Historical Society
Prior to 1820, Indians and occasional white traders occupied LaPointe, the name given to the present site of Galena. The settlement grew rapidly in 1823 and 1824 as each boat deposited new arrivals on the banks of the Fever (now Galena) River. The town was laid out in 1826, and the name changed to Galena (Latin for sulphide of lead). Terror reigned in the region during the Black Hawk War in 1832, but the suppression of the Indians cleared the way for unrestricted white settlement.
As supply center for the mines and shipping point for the growing river commerce, Galena became a thriving city when Chicago was still a swamp village. Galena's zenith arrived in the 1840's, and residents lavished money on elaborate houses, many of which still stand today. By the 1850's the surface lead deposits were depleted; the Galena River, once over 300 feet wide, began to gather silt; and the railroads started to take the river commerce.
Ulysses S. Grant arrived here in 1860 to work in his father's leather store. A year later this still obscure clerk marched off to the Civil War; in 1865, he returned in triumph to a gift mansion donated by his Galena neighbors. Grant was so prominent that he overshadowed the town's eight other Civil War generals.
In 1869, after his election as President of the United States, Grant appointed his Galena friends John A. Rawlins, Secretary of War; Elihu B. Washburne, Secretary of State; Ely S. Parker, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Print marker information