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Overview

In 1836, Presbyterian minister George Washington Gale chose an Illinois site for religious education. The result was Knox College and the city of Galesburg, named after its founder. Built in 1857, the college's Old Main is the only building still standing where the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates were held. An important part of the Underground Railroad, Galesburg also has a rail history that is still alive today. The first train pulled into Galesburg on Dec. 7, 1854. Four original lines eventually merged and Galesburg flourished with the railroad running in four directions. Author-poet Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg on Jan. 6, 1878. His ...

In 1836, Presbyterian minister George Washington Gale chose an Illinois site for religious education. The result was Knox College and the city of Galesburg, named after its founder. Built in 1857, the college's Old Main is the only building still standing where the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates were held. An important part of the Underground Railroad, Galesburg also has a rail history that is still alive today. The first train pulled into Galesburg on Dec. 7, 1854. Four original lines eventually merged and Galesburg flourished with the railroad running in four directions. Author-poet Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg on Jan. 6, 1878. His three-room birthplace and the rock under which Sandburg and his wife are buried is now a historic site. Walk through the garden with famous quotes from Sandburg's writings engraved in the stepping stones. President Ronald Reagan wasn't born in Galesburg (he was born Feb. 6, 1911, in an apartment above a store in nearby Tampico) but he did move to Galesburg when he was 5. In a strange bit of foretelling, the woman who would later become his wife often spent vacations in Galesburg. Nancy (Davis) Reagan's stepfather, a well-known Chicago neurosurgeon, was born in Galesburg and the family often visited young Nancy's grandparents' home in Galesburg. Located in northwest Illinois, a self-guided Ronald Reagan Trail driving tour celebrates the hometowns and heritage of the 40th President.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Galesburg, Illinois is a historic city set in the beautiful prairieland of western central Illinois.
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Fourth weekend in June for the annual Galesburg Railroad Days.