By Jack Keating
In 1879, Galena was originally founded as a mining town, looking for (you guessed it) the metal Galena. It became one of the largest establishments around, boasting 800 residents and a number of buildings that made it more than just simply a mining town. Yet when the flow of Galena went dry, it slowly died out and became a ghost town, lost deep in the mountains. The Galena Store, which was once part of the town, became one of the last trading outposts of the Wood River Valley in the early 1900’s. For nearly seventy years, the store was passed between various ownership until the Gelskys bought it and constructed what is now the Galena Lodge. Yet again, for a number of years, the Lodge was bought and sold, each owner renovating and improving the trails systems originally built as mining roads in the late 1800s. One man’s plan was very ambitious, but Galena’s remoted hindered that plan, and Galena was shut down for over a year with talks of potential teardown. This is where the interesting part comes in, for in 1994 the “Help Save Galena Campaign” raised nearly $500,000 to save Galena and donate it to the Blaine County Recreation District, who now successfully operates it.
This only further shows how integral Galena truly is to the valley. When you’re there, happiness pervades throughout the air. You can truly feel it. It is an escape for so many people and helps them forget the hustle and bustle of their daily lives while being truly part of nature. The ability for civilization and nature to coincide in harmony gives me faith that man really does have the ability to exist in our world. Whether you are Nordic skiing, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, staying at the yurts, or simply coming for the food and atmosphere, most people agree that Galena is truly a magical place, and I highly recommend going there, resident or not.