The city of Galena, Illinois is located in northwestern Illinois. The city grew up near the Mississippi River to accommodate the local lead mining and riverboat trade. Before the city was incorporated, Native Americans were collecting lead sulfide in the area. The French began mining the area around 1693. In 1821, American settlers built a permanent settlement on a hill overlooking the Fever River, later named the Galena River. By 1822, the federal government stepped in to run nearby mines, kicking off the first mineral rush in the nation.
The town's main street has undergone several renovations since the 1980s. Several large manufacturing companies have relocated there, including Kraft Foods' cheese plant, John Westwick's foundry, and Microswitch, Inc. The town has also undergone a tourism campaign, highlighting its historic assets in the face of suburban growth. The city's downtown area has also experienced changes in the past couple of years, with several local businesses closing their doors. Clingman's Pharmacy and Hartig Drug moved to the outskirts of the city, and Sullivan's Grocery moved out because of competition from the suburbs.
Galena was a mining town during World War II. Lead and zinc were mined for war materials. However, as the town grew, settlers began encroaching on native land. They aimed to locate new veins of lead and moved in closer to the mines. After two years of mining, the town closed its mines for safety. During this time, the Blackhawk War broke out, but the Blackhawk was eventually defeated at Bad Axe, Wisconsin.