Galena, IL: Hidden Steampunk Gem of the Midwest

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The Lord Baron & KL Outside of the Bernadine Stillman Inn where they stayed.

I first went to Galena many years ago, having heard stories about it’s exceptional beauty and European style.  Upon arrival I was not disappointed and since then I’ve returned many times and even made a number of local friends.  Just this December my lady, KL and I decided to venture to Galena and spend a couple of days there.  For the adventurous steampunker, it’s an experience I highly suggest as there are innumerable antique and specialty shops and a noteworthy 85% of the town is on the national historic registry.  The Main Street strip is considered one of the best main streets in America and features such goods as locally made hot sauces, mid-west vinted fruit and central European style wines, brass jewelry, gourmand goods and a great variety of fantastic restaurants.  We ate at One Eleven Main ourselves.

One of the many ubiquitous pieces of taxidermy that sprinkle Galena. Also, hot sauce from Galena Canning Company!

Kenzie wanders through one of the many shops that carry just about everything.

A corner of an antique store. The other side is full of antique cameras.

Doubly, the town is abundant with bed and breakfasts, most are done up in a decidedly Victorian motif. Few are below $150/night (if you go on off days, Sundays – Wednesdays you can often find rooms for as low as $75).  And of course, being bed and breakfasts they feature a variety of ammenities.  One of the other fantastic things about Galena is it’s scenery.

Just before reaching Jo Davies’ Country if you are traveling from the east, you immediately begin to note that the land becomes increasingly hilly.  This is known as the Driftless region and sports vast valleys and dramatic ridges that can be as high as 1,000 feet or more above sea-level.  For the plains of the mid-west, this is quite the unusual find.

Kenzie curls her hair in front of the sink. It was next to our bed, quite traditional indeed!

Unfortunately one cannot take home everything they see in Galena.

Galena itself sports a very old-world style with old houses and narrow streets.  Even more so, the town exists along the banks of the Galena River which has caused the downtown to be built up on a near 45 degree angle going westward. A good explorer can literally take the stairs from one block west to another.  Our good friend Ryan Dies for instance, lives on the second floor of a building on Main Street but also has access from the next street west via descending stairs as each street is essentially four stories or more above the next!

The downtown slopes dramatic downward to the Galena River.

One of the random pieces of amazing that are all about Ryan's apartment.

Virtually every place you walk into in Galena has antique furniture.

All in all our stay in Galena was wonderfully relaxing while still being quite adventrous.  I would suggest Galena to any steampunker, mid-western or not, if they are looking to get away for a weekend and not break the bank.  Doubly, we found that traversing the streets in our steampunk outfits (which is essentially the only clothing we brought… and pretty much own) caused no derision but instead loads of compliments and even a few tourists asking to get their picture with us.

Our buddy Ryan licking up some snow... and standing on one of the steeply angled streets.

For more information check out Galena’s Official Website.  Also, feel free to visit The Galena Canning Company for some of the best hot sauce in the world.  One Eleven Main is a fantastic local dining experience.  The Bernadine Stillman Inn is where we were shown wonderful hospitality.  Galena Cellars has some great mid-western wine.  Visit our friend’s website Brassologie for all your brass piece needs.

-The Lord Baron

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  • 1 Lisa Radke Feb 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I LOVE your blog! Though I do feel for Santa’s former employee. I realize jobs are scarce these days, but this photo gives “off with their heads” new meaning.

  • 2 Rozzenator Mar 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Mr. Vorteque, you are endowed with words as well as talent.
    Thank you for the unexpected kindness and endorsement.

    Be always true and kind.
    Ryan of Brassologie.

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