Founding of Lena

1853-The rail line that currently runs through Lena was surveyed and the very industrious Samuel F Dodds purchased 80 acres of land to add to his own and laid out the foundation for Lena.  Dodd’s house, the stone building still standing on Lena Street was one of the only two houses located in Lena at that time.  In 1854 the rail line was finished and trains began running, houses and businesses quickly developed, many of which are still standing today. By 1860 Lena had a population of over 600 and was a shipping point for grain and stock.

Civil War Era

When war broke out troops from the region met in Lena to organize. This activity greatly increased Lena’s business activity and population which held strong through the war and after.

Forming a Village

In 1855 Lena saw her first Post Office, though the location would change often over the years the facility remained in town. In 1866 The Village of Lena was officially incorporated.  In 1867 Lena’s first newspaper, the Lena Star was published. In 1869 The Lena Fire Company was formed which consisted of 35 members. In 1879 an opera house was built for entertaining residents and visitors alike and still stands today.   In 1895 Lena’s first water tower was constructed, this is still standing and is now a National Historical Landmark.

Lena Area Historical Society

427 Grove Street – Museum open weekends June to September and by appointment

The Lena Area Historical Society was organized in 1981. The museum building was built and occupied in 1986 and contains local memorabilia.  In 1987 the first log school house was dismantled and moved to the museum site and reconstructed by a group of volunteers.  It has been furnished as it was when built in 1849 by Samuel F Dodds in his orchard.  In 1989 an Illinois Central Caboose was purchased and moved to the site and is now furnished with railroad memorabilia.  In 1996 a summer kitchen was moved to the site and has been furnished with items of the day. Additionally, a general store/post office and a blacksmith shop have been added to the property 

Open Saturdays 1-4 pm

Private Tours Available.  For Information call Richard Holmes 815-369-4304

Genealogical Requests

Genealogical inquiries may be addressed to the Historical Society at PO Box 620, Lena, IL 61048 or by emailing gnprice@frontier.com.

Lena Historical Museum Programs

The Historical Society occasionally has local programs of interest pertaining to Lena Area history.  Also there is an annual Dinner Banquet in the spring with a raffle and Silent Auction as a fundraiser for the museum.