Historical Galena

title- Streetcars in Old Galena

a picture of an old street car

The Southwest Missouri Railway electric interurban system was begun in Webb City/ Joplin in the late 1890's.

Eventually the line ran from Carthage, Missouri to Picher, Oklahoma with branches to other locations reaching into Galena by the 1900's.

By 1925 the improved road system brought about schedule changes to reflect the overall slow down and by 1939 the line was closed for good.



title-The Katy Depot

a picture of the Katy Depot in Galena
For many years the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway connected the mining town of Galena to the metropolitan areas such as Kansas City, Dallas and Houston. The efficient railway system that was in place when World War II broke out transported soldiers across America.

Almost a decade after the end of the war the Highway Commission under Eisenhower began building ‘freeways’ eventually leading to the current super highway scheme. Because of this railroad travel was thought to be redundant and gradually declined throughout the country impacting many of the small towns that had been serviced by such railroads such as the ‘Katy’.

From 1957 onward the gradual extinction of the railroad from small town America added to an economic recession because of the many railway workers who lost their jobs. The new highways were efficiently designed to by-pass the little towns causing the people who had been used to flow freely to cities or other towns along the rail line to be essentially stranded. Many towns razed the often well-built and attractive railway depots. Galena's busy railway depot was closed the latter part of 1983. It had been standing for over 80 years at the bottom of the Front and Main Street hill.

When the Katy Depot closed Mr.Howard Litch, a Galena businessman who had collected all kinds of mining paraphernalia and other historical items for many years was the first to see a need for a museum. Through his leadership along with many other forward thinking people involved in the project the M.K.T. depot was moved to West 7th Street, next to the Galena Municipal Building. The depot became Galena's very own Mining and Historical Museum named after Howard Litch. Although still incomplete the new museum was dedicated during Galena Days on June 2, 1984.

The Galena Mining and Historical Museum has been an asset to the city of Galena educating its citizens about Galena's colorful history as well attracting a large number of visitors because of its location on historic Highway 66.
(Some of this content was taken from the May 30, 2001 issue of Galena-Sentinel Times by V. Hopkins)


title-The Smelter

a picture of the Eagle Picher Lead Smelter Plant in Galena, Kansas
The World's Largest Producer of Lead & Zinc
a picture of smeltermen at the Eagle Picher Plant Originally Galena was established as a mining town for lead and other minerals. It has been said that in the old days a person could travel underground all the way from Galena to Picher, Oklahoma. A few years ago the mine in Galena was filled and closed.

The EPA placed an area of Cherokee County on the National Priorities List of Hazardous Waste Sites in 1983, because of risks posed to human health. Mining in the 1930's brought about the growth of the tri-state area, but also brought the tragedy of pollution from mine operations.

Although mining Companies Eagle Picher Indiana, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Gold Fields American Corp, New York were responsible for the pollution it was the EPA that ultimately took care of the cleanup of the pollution problems that were created when Galena was a mining center 100 years ago.

Declared as a "Superfund Site" they began a 600 acre reclamation project followed by filling shafts and pits with more than one million tons of mining wastes and the construction of concrete channels to divert surface water runoff away from mine openings, as well as recontrolling and revegetation of the land.


Streetcars Katy Railroad Smelter Ago Back to Galena

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