Known for its charming downtown, 19th-century historic district, and the home of Ulysses S. Grant, Galena, Illinois offers some cool tours. One of the best tours in Galena, Illinois is the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk. This haunted ghost tour in Galena also ranks #1 of all tours on TripAdvisor with 5 stars. And I have to agree. During this 90-minute walking tour, you’ll explore historic downtown Galena as you learn more about its haunted past and present.
While The Haunted Galena Tour Company generously hosted my party and me on this haunted tour, opinions are always my own. And my opinion is that the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk is the best haunted tour in Galena, Illinois.
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Most haunted places in Galena, Illinois
The Haunted Galena Tour Company owner and master storyteller, Ted Williams, led us to the most haunted places in Galena by candlelight. Dressed in period costume, Ted shared fascinating and fact-based ghost stories, Galena’s dark history, and its creepy folklore. Many of their historic ghostly tale sources come from historic newspaper articles and the locals.
For the record, it’s believed that the entire town of Galena, Illinois is haunted. Here are my top three most memorable haunted places on The Haunted Galena Tour Company’s Ghost Walk. These are very high-level highlights as I recommend you experience the spooky side of Galena in person. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers.
Dowling House – one of the most haunted places in Galena, Illinois
My cousins and I toured the historic Dowling House in Galena, Illinois earlier in the day (highly recommend!). When I asked our day tour guide if the Dowling House was haunted, she just gave me a knowing glance.
The answer is definitely yes.
The historic Dowling House is haunted and is where the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk begins. While I didn’t see anything out of the normal in person or in my pictures during our ghost tour, I definitely heard something. We all did.
Built in 1826, the Dowling House is the oldest house in Galena. The first floor served as the lead-mining town’s only general store and trading post. At nearly 200 years, the Dowling House offers up many ghosts and unexplained sightings and noises.
While the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk is a ghost-storytelling tour, our guide did use some ghost-hunting electronic voice phenomena (EVP) equipment. It picked up some random words during our tour. However, our guide shared some spooky stories and ghostly pics from other tours.
When the guide turned off the lights and shared some other paranormal occurrences at the Dowling House, we heard something bumping around upstairs like footsteps. I was grateful I wasn’t in the Dowling House alone at night. On a different tour, a spirit yelled the tour guide’s name from the corner of the room. Sometimes the rocking chair rocks on its own. And a ghost cat makes the occasional appearance by brushing up on visitor legs.
Galena Welcome Center – one of the most haunted places in Galena, Illinois
It’s hard to believe that the building that serves as Galena Welcome Center is one of the most haunted places in Galena. (It’s my understanding the Welcome Center is currently closed for renovation. However, public restrooms are open) Back in the day, this building served as the Old Market House. And also housed a basement jail cell.
When you stop by the Galena Welcome Center at night, you’re invited to come back after the tour to knock on the basement door. If you dare, you may encounter Mary Ann Miller. She liked to imbibe in other kind of spirits and was arrested one night. She ended up in the Old Market House basement jail cell with an open window. An open window where the nearby river flooded the basement and she drowned. Her spirit allegedly haunts this building and the streets of Galena. She is known to knock back on the basement door or whisper into your ear, “I’m waiting for you.”
As our guide noted, “Ghosts don’t shout. They whisper.”
DeSoto House Hotel – one of the most haunted places and hotels in Galena, Illinois
Your Haunted Galena Ghost Walk ends at one of the most historic and most haunted places in Galena, Illinois. The DeSoto House Hotel, located at 230 Main Street in Galena, Illinois is a gorgeous 19th century building built in 1855. The oldest operating hotel in Illinois is also home to several ghosts.
Many claim to have seen the apparition of Abraham Lincoln, aggressive entities in the ladies restroom and banquet ballroom, and the infamous Lady in Black appearances and disappearances.
It’s believed the woman dressed in Civil War mourning clothes is grieving the loss of a loved one. The legend goes that a train carrying Civil War soldiers never made it to the battlefield. Instead, their lives ended after a railroad bridge collapsed killing the soldiers on board. Galena’s Lady in Black apparition appears walking in the basement of the DeSoto House Hotel and disappears into a brick wall.
Just a few years ago while making renovations, the hotel discovered a hidden doorway behind the brick wall. The exact spot where the Lady in Black disappears.
More of the most haunted places in Galena, Illinois
I’ve highlighted only three of the spine-tingling stories we heard during our 90-minute Haunted Galena Ghost Walk. Here are a few more Galena hauntings that you need to learn more about in person.
- Strange and unexplained noises and apparitions at Jo Daviess County Courthouse and state attorney’s office.
- A house on Bench Street, one of the most haunted places in Galena, had Christmas figurines turn by themselves. The owner also experienced someone holding and stroking her hand while sleeping when no one else was in the house.
- A young boy fell down a 75-foot pit mine, and people claim to still hear his screams.
- Be aware of any hovering apparitions above your hood and windshield when driving near Galena at night.
- We didn’t stop by any cemeteries on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk, but you’re bound to run into some paranormal experiences at night.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour
The following features some of the most frequently asked questions about the most haunted places in Galena, Illinois and the Haunted Galena Ghost Tour.
Where do we meet for the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour? What’s the location of the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour?
Meet in front of the historic Dowling House at 220 Diagonal Street in Galena, Illinois for the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour.
How long is the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour?
The Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour takes 90 minutes. While you are not walking the entire time, you should expect to stand for the entire tour duration.
What time does the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour begin and end?
The Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour begins at 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 or 10 p.m.
Are there stairs or inclines on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour?
Galena, Illinois is very hilly. However, you will not need to take any stairs on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour. Although you will walk up one steep street at the beginning of the tour. But it’s not too challenging.
Is the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk offered year-round?
No. The Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tours are scheduled late April through October. However, The Haunted Galena Tour Company offers a variety of tours you can attend throughout the year.
How much is the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk? Where do I order tickets for the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk?
Tickets for the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk are $23.50. You can purchase tickets on The Haunted Galena Tour Company website. Or visit their retail store, A Darkness Lovely, at 304. South Main Street in Galena, IL.
Does The Haunted Galena Tour Company have a gift shop?
Yes. The Haunted Galena Tour Company features a companion retail store in historic downtown Galena, Illinois. A Darkness Lovely, located at 304 South Main Street, offers books, games, candles, jewelry, tarot, and more.
Are children allowed to go on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour? What about dogs?
Yes. Children 7 years and older are allowed to go on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk Tour. Parents should use discretion as stories can be a little scary and do talk about murders and death.
Does The Haunted Galena Tour Company offer other tours?
Yes. The Haunted Galena Tour Company offers several tours including:
- Haunted Galena Ghost Walk – takes place in the downtown area.
- New East Side Haunted Galena Ghost Walk – explores little-known neighborhoods and wooded paths
- Spirits & Spirits Tour – a haunted happy hour tour
- Indoor Stage Show at the DeSoto House Hotel – murder and mayhem stories with cold appetizers and cash bar
Are you allowed to take photos or videos during the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour?
Our tour guide encouraged us to take photos during the Haunted Galena Ghost Tour. That’s because apparitions do turn up in photos. Ongoing video recordings are not permitted on the Haunted Galena Ghost Tour because of copyrights. However, our tour guide recommended that we take a recording while touring the Dowling House. Some people claimed they captured some strange orbs.
I did too. But it came from a guy wearing a glow-in-the-dark necklace.
If you capture anything unusual, make sure you share it with the Haunted Galena Ghost Tour hosts.
Note: If you’re taking photos on your mobile device, please remember to turn off your flash and silence your phone. One woman forgot and her phone rang three times in a row. It was while we were inside the pitch-black Dowling House. My video captured her daughter saying, “Oh, mother!” So funny. Her exasperated daughters finally took her phone away and silenced it for her.
What should I wear or bring to the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour?
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour as you will walk on uneven (and dark) terrain. And dress for the weather. You may want to wear a raincoat and bring an umbrella if it looks like rain. While this is not a ghost-hunting tour, you may bring your own equipment as long as it doesn’t disrupt others.
Are restrooms available on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour?
No. Restrooms are not available on the Haunted Galena Ghost Walk tour. However, restrooms are available at the last stop. Restrooms at the DeSoto House Hotel may or may not be haunted.
More of the best tours in Galena, Illinois
One of the best daytime tours in Galena, Illinois is the Galena Trolley Tours. Check out my review and post: Best tours in Galena, Illinois: Galena Trolley Tours. It’s the best tour to learn more about the Galena Historic District and the area’s historic homes and architecture.
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