The City of St. Charles is located in the St. Charles County and is the County Seat. Lying just west of the Missouri River, it is about 30 minutes from Downtown St. Louis via Interstate 70. Important roads for the community are First Capitol Drive/Highway 94, West Clay, Fifth Street, Boone's Lick Road, Main Street, Second Street, North Kingshighway, Zumbehl Road, Droste Road, Muegge Road, Hackmann Road, Elm Street, Highway 370, Interstate 70 and many more. The City of St. Charles was incorporated in 1809. The St. Charles County area is one of the fastest population growing areas in the Metropolitan St. Louis area and the City of St. Charles is no different.
The residents of the city are served by two public school districts. One of them is the St. Charles School District which has six elementary schools (K-4), one intermediate school (5,6), one middle school (7,8) and two high schools, St. Charles High School and St. Charles West High School. The other public school district is the Francis Howell School District. Francis Howell has three early childhood centers, ten elementary schools, five middle schools and four high schools, Francis Howell High School, Francis Howell Central High School, Francis Howell North High School and Francis Howell Union School. St. Charles residents also have several private schools located within the community. One of them is Duchesne High School, a private Catholic co-ed high school. Others are St Elizabeth-St Robert School, Academy of the Scared Heart, St Cletus School, St Peter School and St. Charles Borromeo School, all private Catholic schools with grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Trinity Lutheran School and Immanuel Lutheran School are also located in St. Charles and offer grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Higher education is represented, too, by Lindenwood University. It was founded as an all girls school in 1827 by Major George Sibley and his wife Mary and was housed in a log cabin on the 149-acre campus. Today it is a private co-ed liberal arts university with over 14,000 students. It has been a four year institution since 1918.
The City offers its residents many opportunities for recreation and entertainment. First of all, St. Charles maintains over 20 parks with a total of 660 acres of parkland and feature a variety amenities. Three of the parks, McNair, Blanchette and Wapelhorst, have Aquatic Centers. Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Park is actually 4 different parks which feature such amenities as a boat ramp launch into the Missouri River, a dog park, a variety of hiking and biking trails and picnic shelters. Some of the other amenities that St. Charles Parks provide are fishing lakes, a skate park facility, athletic fields for baseball, softball, football and soccer; basketball, tennis and sand volleyball courts; playgrounds, picnic facilities and pavilions, nature areas and much more. Frontier Park is positioned along the riverfront and is the location of many St. Charles events and festivals.
Speaking of festivals, St. Charles hosts many annual events and festivals throughout the year. The Christmas Traditions Festival is held each year beginning on the Friday after Thanksgiving and then on each Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday in December and ending on Christmas Eve. (Hours vary by day) The Christmas Traditions is held on Historic Main Street in Old St. Charles and features Victorian Carolers, historic Santas and other Christmas characters such as Tiny Tim, the Nutcracker Prince, Jack Frost, and many others offering Christmas cheer to shoppers and diners on the beautifully lit and decorated Main Street. Other festivals include the Festival of the Little Hills, a three day festival held in August that features crafts, demonstrations, live entertainment and food and beverages. Riverfest is St. Charles' Independence Day celebration. It is held on July 4th and begins with a parade in the morning on Main Street and ends with a fabulous fireworks display in the evening on the riverfront. In between there are Carnival rides, food and beverages such as Kettle Korn, Funnel Cake, hotdogs and other festival food and much more. The Fete de Glace, or Festival of Ice, is held on Main Street in January.
For entertainment, St. Charles has several venues. One of them is the Family Arena which brings in big name concerts and family events. Another is the J. Scheideggar Center and Bezemes Family Theater located on the campus of Lindenwood University which hosts plays, ballets, concerts, musicals and more. Golfers will enjoy the private 18 hole Bogey Hills Country Club golf course. Ameristar Casino can be found on the St. Charles riverfront, just a short distance from Old Town. History buffs will enjoy the First Missouri State Capital Historic Site in Old Town, the MKT Train Depot and railroad cars in Frontier Park, the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center, the St. Charles County Heritage Museum and just stepping back in time by walking the streets through Historic St. Charles and Historic Frenchtown. And if a day of bike riding sounds enticing, rent a bike on Main Street or bring your own and pick up the Katy Trail, the rails to trails State Park, at the St. Charles Trailhead in Frontier Park and ride for as far west as your legs will carry you...but just remember...there is always the return trip back!
St. Charles has had three names in its history. In 1769, several years after Pierre Laclede established his fur trading post on the Mississippi River that would eventually become the City of St. Louis, a French Canadian hunter, Louis Blanchette, and his Native American wife and family, were settling in what he called "Les Petite Cotes", the Little Hills, along the west bank of Missouri River. At that time, Spain was in control of the Louisiana Territory, eventhough most of St Louis and Les Petite Cotes' residents were of French descent. In 1791, the Borromeo Church was established and at its dedication by the Spanish Lieutenant Governor of the Upper Louisiana, Don Manuel Perez, the town's name was changed again to "San Carlos" to honor the Cardinal of Milan Carlos Borromeo. When the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory in 1803, the name "San Carlos" was translated to its English meaning and the town had its third and final name, Saint Charles. It was in 1809 that Saint Charles was incorporated as a village. The City of St. Charles was briefly the first Capitol of the State of Missouri between 1821 and 1826. While the capitol buildings of the new State of Missouri were being constructed in Jefferson City, legislators made decisions and approved new laws for the new state in the buildings that can be found on Main Street in Historic St. Charles. Today, tourist can visit the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site and see where Missouri history was made.
St. Charles was the last touch with civilization for those men and women who were headed further west. In St. Charles, last supplies would be purchased for the long journey west. The "road" that most of these brave pioneers used was the Boone's Lick Road to connect to either the Oregon Trail or the Sante Fe Trail. This 120 mile trail had been established by Daniel Boone and his sons to go between St. Charles, where they lived, to the salt springs they had discovered in New Franklin Missouri. There the Boones established a business boiling down the water from the spring to get the salt, a very important commodity for preserving food, and shipping the salt down the Missouri River back to St. Charles to sell. The salt was also sold to the pioneers as they were continuing on to the Oregon or the Sante Fe Trails. Much of the Boone's Lick Trail eventually became U.S. Highway 40 and Interstate 70.
St. Charles Missouri City Hall
200 N. Second Street
St. Charles, MO 63301