More wagons, tents and hastily constructed
buildings sprang up in the new boomtown, which, within months, supported a population
of almost 10,000.
For a time, a heated spirit of rivalry was
carried on between Galena and Empire City,
each keeping pace with the other, and seeking to excel in the race.
The rivalry between the two mining
companies carried forward into the building of the two towns, bound
together by the rich veins of lead. Because Empire City was nearer the field of
operations for the mining activities, the majority of new settlers
first camped upon that town site. However, the natural advantage was
with Galena, since nearly the whole, and by far the richest, of the
lead field lay beneath and near the town. No sooner was this
fact discovered, than Galena began to take the lead of Empire City. This change soon began
to seriously discomfit the Empire
camp, who strove arduously to turn the tide, and save themselves from
being entirely absorbed.
With two cities striving to settle within
their own limits and the thousands rushing to the camp, more friction
naturally occurred. The prospect of keeping order in the two mining camps
was not a very promising one. Columbus Street in Empire and "Red Hot" and
Main Streets in Galena were the first to build up with business houses,
which were of log and frame boxes, hastily thrown together for
The quarrel assumed a serious aspect when Empire City decided to stop
their population from moving over to the Galena side. On the night of July 25, 1877, the city
council of Empire City passed a
resolution ordering a stockade eight feet high and one-half mile in length
to be built along the south side of their city. If the plan was carried
out, it would virtually stop all communication between the two cities and
hinder public travel. The stockade was to enclose the south end of
Columbus Street and the bridge over Short Creek.
the stockade began to be built, it created such a ruckus that the workmen
were given police protection while building the wall. Galena
residents protested in vain, petitioning the city, which, in turn appealed
to the U.S. Government to prevent the closing of a public highway to the
However, as the gap was being closed and the action of
the federal government was too slow, the Galena Mayor,
acting under the authority of the city council, organized a posse of fifty
citizens to prevent closing the gap. On August 15, 1877 at 4:00 am,
the posse attacked, tore down, and burned the greater portion of the wall. Empire City, not anticipating the surprise attack, was unprepared, which
resulted in the exchange of only a few shots and very little bloodshed.
For several years, the two towns would vie for
dominance with constant feuds between not only the towns, but their
residents. The war between the towns became so bad that the main
connecting link between the two cities became known as "Red Hot
Street,” when feuding became so intense that doctors and undertakers
began working nights and sleeping during the days.
This feud, coupled with the countless miners,
transients, and outlaws hiding within its midst, provided a hotbed for
violence. In this section of the town were
innumerable saloons and gambling halls that catered to murderers, outlaws,
and gamblers. During this time, many hardworking miners were lured
inside to lose their hard earned gold at the gaming tables and other
questionable pastimes. Some were never seen again.
During the early mining days, the
population shifted and flourished along with the fortunes of the mining
operations and many an enterprising entrepreneur became wealthy during the
early days of Galena, building fine homes and buildings. Others, who did not
find wealth in
Galena, soon left in pursuit of other endeavors.
In the fall of 1877 a building was constructed to
serve several church denominations, including the Presbyterian,
Episcopalian and a Methodist congregations.
The first school was taught in the winter of
1877-78, in a building that had been built for a store room.
In the fall of 1878, H. Webb established a
paper called the Short Creek Banner, but it was sold the following
year, the name was changed to The Messenger and moved to Columbus.
In 1879, the Kansas City,
Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad extended its line to Galena and
before long the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad followed suit,
extending its line from Joplin,
Missouri. Deeper mining operations began in earnest and the town soon saw all manner
of passengers, freight and lead being shipped through the area. The same
year the Presbyterians built their own church one-story frame building.
A school building was also built in 1879, which was comprised of a
large two-story frame structure containing four rooms. The school
district also purchased four lots for the schoolhouse site, which were
later found to contain rich lead deposits. A second school
building was erected in 1880 -- a two-story frame containing two
rooms, and the land on which the previous school sat was leased for
mining purposes, from which the school district profited handsomely.
The Episcopalians erected their own one-story church building the same