Sunday, August 03, 2014

Northern Road Trip, Day 10: My birthday in Galena with Ulysses S. Grant.

Dubuque's waterfront is a showplace, with shiny casino buildings, a museum and a walkway lined by public art project sculptures. Taking into consideration the remainder of downtown Dubuque, there's a bit of a Potemkin Village feel to it, but then again, gambling consistently fails to provide tumescence.

Adjacent to all of it is the restored rump of Dubuque's Star Brewery, once a hundreds-of-thousands-of-barrels powerhouse, now home to a wine bar and seeking tenants. The intent is similar to Fitger's in Duluth, mentioned previously. Perhaps housing, not retail? Note the delicious red star in the stones.

When it comes to great moments in American history, Robert E. Lee's surrender ranks high on my personal list, even if so many Americans in the present day fail to appreciate what was decided at Appomattox. Ulysses S. Grant was from Galena, Illinois, quite near Dubuque.

These photos are from the house given to him after the war ended, as financed by local fans, and which sits on a bluff overlooking the town. The view reminded me of Cesky Krumlov without the castle. Soon after setting up housekeeping, the Grants left for Washington DC and the general's new job as President of the United States.

Galena is a perfectly realized example of what can be done with a one-street, seemingly one-horse town with several million people living within a couple hours' drive. There is an undulating main street crowded with shops, bars and eateries, with a few thousand signs warning against parking. In short, rather like Nashville, Indiana, and to a far lesser extent, Madison (also Indiana) but even more calculated to serve hordes of visitors and make hay and dollars while the sun shines.

The Galena Brewing Company proved solid, so I was a happy boy. GBC's Hefeweizen was among the best I've ever tasted at an American "craft" brewery.

We drove back to Dubuque, gassed up in preparation for Monday's return drive, and walked to L. May eatery for a second time. In the end, Dubuque was just fine.

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