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Historical Essay

Galena River (Fever River)

Origin of Galena River, Wisconsin

Galena River, Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.

A stream emptying into the Mississippi from the east, on which is the city of Galena, Illinois; now called the Galena River.

Theodore Rodolf, a Swiss imigrant who arrived in 1834, wrote of this stream, "The Fever is a large creek rather than a river, and is not navigable above Galena, and there only during high water in the Mississippi, which causes the slack water to overflow all low lands. During low water it was a most arduous and slow undertaking to bring boats up to the city, and often quite impossible. An old Canadian voyageur informed me that the name of the stream was "Rivière aux Fèves," or "Bean river," owing to the large amount of wild beans growing along its banks, from which it was corrupted to Fever River. This name is calculated to do injury to the climate of the country, for I never heard that fevers were prevalent along the stream, and Galena has always been considered a healthy place."

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[Source: Wis. Historical Collections XV: 343]