The Unknown History of Lake Galena

There’s a town under Lake Galena in Peace Valley Park.

Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, you read that correctly.

I almost didn’t believe it when I heard it, but the more I looked into it, I found it to be true.

If you’re like me, your first reaction is to ask yourself “How does a town get covered by a lake?” So I decided I’m going to tell you the story of how a little town called Levin became what is now Lake Galena.

In 1860, two men from Doylestown, Christian Moyer and Daniel Brandt were digging post holes on the Brandt property east of the Hilltown road. It was there that they uncovered a large stone so heavy that it was almost impossible for the two men to recover it from the hole. To find out what exactly they had discovered, they took pieces of the stone into town to the local blacksmith where the pieces were smelted. What the two men had discovered was lead, otherwise known as Galena.

What is Galena you ask? Don’t worry, I have you covered. Galena, which is also known as lead glance, is an important source of silver and is one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals on Earth. It’s the main source that lead is made from, which has uses dating back to ancient times. One of the oldest uses of lead goes all the way back into Ancient Egypt, where people would apply it around their eyes to repel flies, which were a major carrier of disease. Today, lead is used to make lead-acid batteries, which are the same ones you can find in your car. Aside from being a source of lead, Galena is also an important source of silver. Silver, like gold, is considered one of the precious metals and has a wide range of uses. Today, silver is used in things ranging from air conditioning, solar energy, and water purification. However, back in those days (we’re talking about the 1860’s here), silver had more practical uses in things such as jewelry, and clothing.

So it’s safe to say Galena is a pretty big deal.

Jacob Neimeyer, a Pennsylvania German, heard of Moyer’s and Brandt’s findings and purchased their farm for $21,000 in cash. Neimeyer, a former California gold miner and Illinois lead miner, knew of the excavation methods required to dig up the blocks of Galena. Neimeyer excavated the grounds; hauling blocks of Galena weighing as much as 700 pounds and making shipment invoices for as much as $5,000. Word spread about Neimeyer’s success, and soon, galena findings were popping up everywhere around the area.

The area soon became a hot spot for galena mining, and tourists poured in to fill their curiosity. As a result, the nearby towns were flourishing as real estate prices rose, and the local economy began to flourish. The area soon became known as New Galena.

However, Neimeyer began to experience difficulties mining the grounds due to the flooding that would frequently fill the mines and stop his business in its tracks. Neimeyer sold the land for an alleged $75,000, and moved to Ohio, where he retired.

The town’s post office was established in 1898, and was forced to change its name to Levin since there was already a town named Galena. The post office was discontinued a few years later, and the name New Galena was re-used by the locals. The town was virtually abandoned up until 1974, when the county decided to flood what was left of the remains. From that, what is known today as Lake Galena was created.

So there you have it; the story of how once a small mining town became what is now Lake Galena. If you need something to do on a lazy weekend afternoon, take a trip over to Peace Valley Park and brag to the locals about how there’s a town under Lake Galena. They might look at you like you’re crazy, but hey, at least you know you’re partially sane right?

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