Galena - A Lead
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Kansas, had a peak population of
about 10,000 during its mining hey days.
In the rocky hills and gravel-filled valleys of
Kansas is the small
town of Galena, born of rugged characters when lead was discovered in
1877. Before this time, the land was only sparsely settled by
hunters and farmers earning meager livings from the rocky and sterile
The existence of lead
in the area was known by the Indians long before the white settlers
began to populate the area. Large lumps of almost pure lead were
often found on or near the surface and would be melted and made into
bullets at the camp fires.
In the spring of 1877, a couple of
young white men found several heavy stones which contained high
amounts of lead. The land owner, a German farmer by the name of Egidius Moll, wasted no time in making negotiations with the nearby
Missouri Mining Companies. Before long, more rich deposits
of ore were discovered and by June 1, 1877, two rival companies were
in the field bidding against each other for the lease and sale of
mining lots. The two rival mining companies also
formed their own town sites – Empire City north of Short Creek, and
south of the creek, which was named for the abundant bluish-grey lead, to the south.
Galena was immediately laid out, and the
excitement caused by the lead discovery was so great, that no sooner
was a lot staked off than a purchaser was ready with the money in hand
to buy it. The influx of people was extremely rapid, so that in the
space of about two months Galena numbered a population of nearly 3,000
people. Business houses were hastily established, miners' shanties
were built by the dozens and and the town site was everywhere being
dug up with mining excavations.
A tract of eighty acres of railroad land adjoining the site was
purchased by a joint stock company called the South Side Town & Mining
Company, which also became a part of the town site.
Galena was incorporated as a city in May,
1877, in less than two months from the time it was laid out. That same
month, a post office was opened and a newspaper, called the Galena
Miner was established.
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
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.
"Red Hot Street," looking north from Galena to
with Short Creek in the foreground,
Kathy Weiser, June, 2010.
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From Legends' General Store
66 Books & Maps -
Legends of America and
Legends' General Store has collected a number of
Route 66 Books for our
enthusiasts. As great as
Route 66 is, if you aren't armed with a few good
tools on your journey, you'll miss great attractions, eateries, places to
stay, and wind up on the wrong path. To see this varied collection that
includes "how-to" books, travel guides, photograph books, attractions, and