Desoto House Hotel – Galena, Illinois

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 1 September 2023
  • Time to read: 6 min.


The Desoto House Hotel is located in the center of Galena, Illinois, a place where time itself seems to be eroding at the edges. This historic building is more than just a place to rest one’s head, with its worn facade and mysteries told through its creaky halls. It is a gateway to a realm where mystery and history coexist, where the unsettling and alluring come together.

Desoto House Hotel
Desoto House Hotel – Credit desotohousehotel


The Desoto House Hotel was built in 1855 by a group of local businessmen, including Alexander McGregor and James Langworthy. It was named in honor of the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who is believed to have passed through the Galena area in the 16th century.

One of the most famous guests of the Desoto House Hotel was a young Abraham Lincoln. He frequented the hotel while traveling on legal and political business in the area. It is said that he delivered speeches from the hotel’s balcony during his visits.

During the American Civil War, Galena was a key mining and supply hub for the Union Army. The Desoto House Hotel served as a gathering place for Union officers and dignitaries. General Ulysses S. Grant, a Galena resident, was known to visit the hotel during this time.

In 1859, only four years after its grand opening, the Desoto House Hotel faced a fire that caused widespread damage, affecting all parts of the hotel and destroying around 12 rooms on each floor. Then, about a decade later in December 1869, a major explosion occurred when a steam boiler in the hotel’s basement blew up.

Historic Photograph of Desoto House Hotel – Credit desotohousehotel

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Haunted Third Floor – Room 333

The Desoto House Hotel harbors the most haunted activity on its third floor. It all started with a skeptical desk clerk who had never believed in the paranormal. However, her perspective would forever change upon taking up her duties at this historic establishment.

Late one eerie night, as the clock ticked towards the witching hour, the desk clerk found herself alone on the ominous third floor. A sudden chill gripped the air, sending shivers down her spine. Her disbelief was about to be shattered.

In the dimly lit hallway, a radiant ball of light suddenly materialized before her eyes. It streaked past her in a blinding flash, leaving her bewildered and breathless. The once-skeptical clerk could no longer deny the existence of the supernatural.

But the eerie encounters didn’t end there. Room 333, she discovered, held an aura of unease that sent shivers down her spine. It seemed that this room was a hotspot for ghostly activity, making it the ideal choice for those daring enough to seek out otherworldly encounters at the DeSoto House Hotel.

Lady In Black

A shroud of mystery surrounds the enigmatic figure known as “The Lady In Black” at the DeSoto House Hotel. Her identity remains elusive, yet both employees and visitors have recounted witnessing her ethereal presence descending the hotel’s staircase before vanishing into a wall.

As previously mentioned, this spectral woman would gracefully descend the grand staircase of the DeSoto House Hotel, only to inexplicably vanish into the solid wall at its base. It was a sight that sent shivers down the spines of those who crossed her path.

Then, in the year 2011, an unfortunate flood forced the hotel into a series of repairs. Among them was the removal of drywall in the vicinity of the spot where the Lady In Black had been witnessed countless times. What they discovered left them astonished – the wall into which she had been disappearing had once been a doorway.

Today, this concealed passage remains uncovered, an intriguing relic for hotel visitors to behold, offering a tangible connection to the ghostly apparition that had mystified them for so long.

The legend of the DeSoto House Hotel’s enigmatic “Lady In Black” endures, her true identity veiled in obscurity. Yet, the tales of her spectral descents down the grand staircase and her vanishing act into the wall are no longer mere folklore.

Chilling Encounters – Haunted Hallways

Guests on the third floor of the DeSoto House Hotel have reported strange occurrences. They hear footsteps and noises from above, even though there are no more floors beyond. Some have felt a presence at the end of their beds.

As mentioned earlier, guests who have chosen to stay on the third floor of the DeSoto House Hotel have shared unsettling encounters. Amidst the quiet of the night, they have been troubled by the distinct sound of footsteps echoing through the hallway, accompanied by unexplained noises that seem to descend from a place higher up, even though there are no floors beyond the third.

Equally disconcerting are the accounts of those who have felt a spectral presence at the end of their beds. It’s a sensation that defies explanation and chills the bravest of souls.

The mystery of the DeSoto House Hotel’s third floor remains. Guests still experience unexplained sounds from above and eerie sensations by their beds. For those seeking the unknown, the legend lives on at the DeSoto House Hotel.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

The Desoto House Hotel, with its celebrated past and mysterious reputation, has become a focal point in the world of paranormal investigations and popular culture. It gained widespread recognition in television shows like “Eternal Enigmas: Unraveling Haunted Legends,” where investigators explored the hotel’s ghostly tales and eerie encounters.

In the realm of literature, the Desoto House Hotel features prominently in books such as “Haunted Illinois: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Prairie State” by Troy Taylor and “Ghosthunting Illinois” by John B. Kachuba. These books delve into the supernatural stories surrounding the hotel, offering captivating accounts of its spectral past.

Today, the John B. Kachubaremains a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those intrigued by the paranormal. Its place in popular culture and media, combined with its enigmatic ambiance, continues to attract visitors seeking an immersive experience in its historic and eerie atmosphere.


You’ll take with you not just the memories of your time at the Desoto House Hotel, but also the lingering chills that come with walking in the footsteps of people who have long since passed on. The Desoto House Hotel in Galena is more than simply a place to sleep; it’s also a window into a mesmerizingly romantic past and a location where history’s echoes stubbornly persist. As a result, if you ever find yourself in this small Illinois town, don’t be hesitant to check into the Desoto House Hotel, where the past and present meet in an uncanny embrace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Where is DeSoto House Hotel located?
A: DeSoto House Hotel is located in Galena, Illinois, a charming and historic town nestled in the scenic northwest region of the state.

Q: Are there any famous ghost legends associated with DeSoto House Hotel?
A: Yes, the hotel has its share of ghostly tales, including sightings of “The Lady In Black” and mysterious occurrences on the third floor. These legends have captured the curiosity of many guests over the years.

Q: Can guests request to stay in room 333, where paranormal activity is said to occur?
A: Absolutely! Room 333 is available for guests who are intrigued by the hotel’s ghostly history. Just mention your preference when making your reservation.

Q: Is the open doorway on the third floor, where “The Lady In Black” was seen disappearing, accessible to guests?
A: Yes, it is. The doorway that was uncovered during repairs in 2011 is now open for visitors to see, providing a direct link to the hotel’s haunted past.

Q: Are there any organized ghost tours or activities for those interested in the paranormal?
A: Yes, the DeSoto House Hotel occasionally offers guided ghost tours and special events for those seeking a deeper dive into the hotel’s haunted history. Check with the front desk for more information during your stay.

Q: Do the mysterious footsteps and noises on the third floor still occur?
A: While we cannot guarantee paranormal activity, some guests have reported hearing strange sounds and footsteps on the third floor, adding to the hotel’s mystique.

Q: Can I learn more about the history of DeSoto House Hotel during my stay?
A: Absolutely! The hotel has a rich history, and you can explore it through displays and information available throughout the premises. Feel free to ask our staff for more details during your visit.

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