Walking Galena Illinois – A Sunday Series

Harleys on Main Street, Galena Illinois

Harleys on Main Street © 2012 Bo Mackison

A motorcycle functions entirely in accordance with the laws of reason, and a study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself.  ~Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Desoto House Hotel, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Desoto House Hotel © 2012 Bo Mackison

Galena’s DeSoto House is the oldest continually operating hotel in Illinois. It first opened its doors in 1855 and was six stories high, 250 rooms, and billed as the “largest hotel in the West.” Twenty five years later, following fires and economic downturns in Galena, the top two floors were removed to downsize the hotel more appropriate to its demand. ~ from Scenic Byways


Steps Conquer Hillside, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Steps Conquer Hillside © 2012 Bo Mackison

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.  ~ Lao Tzu

When we were walking in Galena, I kept seeing huge series of stairs, leading from one street to the next, to the next. Hundreds of steps. It reminded me of the run the town Of Bisbee, Arizona has each October — the 1,000 step race. Surely Galena has at least a thousand steps. How fun to have a similar race in northwestern Illinois.

Chalk Board Menues, Main Street, Galena Illinois

IChalk Board Menues © 2012 Bo Mackison

Mushroom soup, made in small batches with artichokes and sun dried tomatoes, followed by a heaping dish of bread pudding (baked with love) — the top two on my list of comfort foods, any day of the week. ~ Bo Mackison

Wrought Iron Staircase, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Wrought Iron Staircase © 2012 Bo Mackison

The red brick wall was the color of a red brick crayon. ~ Douglas Adams

Many of the houses in Galena are made of a familiar (to me) red brick – there are red brick buildings in most of the river towns up and down the Mississippi. Bricks were made from clay, fired in kilns, and then loaded on barges.

All the river cities had easy and cheap access to this building ingredient. I grew up in a red brick house, went to church in a mammoth red brick structure until its roof and interior burned in a midnight fire when I was 6 years old.

Red Fire Hydrant, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Red Fire Hydrant © 2012 Bo Mackison

Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes the pressure off the second.

~ Robert Frost

Reflection of Buggy in Window, Galena Illinois

Reflection of Buggy © 2012 Bo Mackison

A city is the pulsating product of the human hand and mind, reflecting man’s history, his struggle for freedom, creativity, genius-and his selfishness and errors.” ~ Charles Abrams


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Galena is one of the most historically rich communities in Illinois. Nearly 85% of the buildings are in a National Register Historic District. It is also a hub for artists and craftspeople.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I don’t know how large Galena is, but his could be small town USA most anywhere. Looks a lot like the small town near where I live.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      About 3500 people. I think the thing that makes Galena special to me, Anita, is its Main Street. After a fire in the 1800s the town fathers enacted a law that all buildings had to be of brick. Those brick building really last!

  2. The last photo is marvelous. Galena seems like an interesting blast from the past.

  3. Bo Mackison says:

    They have bits of history, but some mighty fine dining and lodging, too.

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