"The Rush for Gray Gold"

Leadmine region to be on TV

GALENA--Scenes taped in Galena and Elizabeth with local people portraying historical characters are an important part of a two hour television special which aired on Monday, Jan 19, at 8 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television.  

Lead rush

       "The Rush for Gray Gold" is the story of the 1820s rush of miners to the Upper Mississippi Lead Region, which includes southwest Wisconsin, eastern Iowa, and northwest Illinois.

       The two-hour documentary was written, directed and produced by david erickson, and independent video producer in spring Green, Wisconsin.  It was chosen by Wisconsin Public Television to kick off a year of special sesquicentenial programs celebrating Wisconsin's 150th anniversary as a state.  

       Erickson lived in Galena and Scales Mound between 1978 and 1983, and was a reporter for the Galena Gazette during that time.  He said this experience gave him " a big advantage" in doing the documentary on the history of the lead mine region.

The wild west

       "The Upper Mississippi lead mines weren't in the Midwest (in the 1820s and '330s), they were in the wild west," erickson said. "We, the production crew, want people to get excited about this era, so we tried to make the show exciting and fun.  We look at the area now and see placid farmscapes, but it was once as famous and colorful as mining boom sites like California and Alaska.

       "The cooperation from area people was great," he recalled.  " In some places we had 50 people show up, dressed in period costumes, shooting off authentic weapons, and "griming up" with authentic lead district dirt!"

        Bridgette and Jeff Ham, Carole Sullivan, Eric Faramus, George Bookless, John Bookless, Tracy Roberts and Jim Terry are among the Galena-area people who appear in the segments taped in Jo Daviess county.

        Jim Terry plays Leekley, A Primative Methodist minister who started that church in the area, according to Erickson.  also, the Apple River Fort in Elizabeth is used in one of the scenes.

Article taken from the
'Galena Gazette'
Vol. 165 No.2
 Galena, Illinois,
Wednesday, January 14, 1998
 page 3G

( to subscribe to the 'Galena Gazette'  call 1-800-373-6397)


1. Copies of the two-hour documentary are available at the Galena History Museum gift shop for $24.95.  

Galena/JoDaviess County Historical Society and Museum  
211 South Bench Street
Galena, Illinois   61036
(815) 777-9129

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