Galena, James River and Charlie Barnes

Galena was platted in 1852, and named for deposits of the ore galena near the original town site. A post office has been in operation at Galena since 1853 and the last public execution in Missouri took place in Galena in 1937.

The James River flows past the east side of the town and enters the northernmost arm of Table Rock Lake to the south.The historic Y-Bridge over the James River is located just east of the town. Float trips, for which the Ozarks are famous, reputedly originated at Galena on the James. John boats 18-24 feet long and 4 feet wide were used long before canoes and kayaks became popular and are amazingly maneuverable craft for their size.

Some anglers still prefer the stability they provide for casting while standing and the comfort of folding arm chairs which they can carry. Before the days of Table Rock Dam a five-day float of about 125 miles was available from Galena to Branson. However one of the fine fishing floats always has been the 22-mile section from “Hootentown” to Galena and this may still be floated even with john boats.

From Ralph Foster Museum at College of the Ozarks –   It is rumored that the skilled boatman, Charlie Barnes of Galena may have invented the jonboat; whether that is true or not, Barnes definitely defined the role of the jonboat in the White River. He built over five hundred boats in his lifetime, and he guided many people through the James River and the White River on float trips. Many of his clients, in fact, were industrialists and movie stars. Unfortunately, with the creation of Table Rock and Bull Shoals dams, his business died and the wooden jonboats simply lost their significance on the rivers.

Galena Chamber of Commerce


Roscoe “Red” Jackson was hanged at dawn on May 21, 1937, for murdering a traveling salesman for his car and $18. Several hundred witnesses were jammed inside the temporary stockade, built around the gallows, and many more people milled about the courthouse square. It was the last public hanging in Missouri.

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