131st Bomb Wing – Missouri ANG Community
St. Charles County
Historic Saint Charles County, Missouri, just northwest of St. Louis, began as French Canadian fur trader Louis Blanchette’s trading post, Les Petites Cotes (“The Little Hills”) in 1769, back when the United States still were fractious English colonies. Around 1799, Daniel Boone and his family built a homestead in the county, and his Boone’s Lick Road became the eastern kick-off point of both the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail. By the late 1700s the Spanish controlled the area and “The Little Hills” became “San Carlos Borromeo,” anglicized to “St. Charles” shortly after Lewis and Clark met here in the wake of the Louisiana Purchase on their way west in 1804. St. Philippine Duchesne founded the first free girls’ school west of the Mississippi in the town of St. Charles in 1818, and Missouri’s first legislators put the state’s temporary capitol here from 1821 to 1826 until the permanent one in Jefferson City could be built. German settlers developed wineries and commercial enterprises in the last three-quarters of the century, and since 1900, residents have actively worked to restore and preserve their heritage, with the result that almost 1 million tourists flock to Saint Charles County’s charms every year.
The city of St. Charles is St. Charles County’s county seat and is the third-oldest and ninth-largest metropolis in the state. The population has boomed since the 1980s thanks to commercial growth and new home construction; people are attracted by the town’s beauty and bustle, including the historic, pedestrian-friendly downtown shopping district. The city is known for celebrations. For the holidays, the Christmas Traditions Festival kicks off the day after Thanksgiving and stretches to the Saturday after Christmas with caroling and strolling, costumed Legends of Christmas, and Santa parades every weekend with the Lewis & Clark Fife and Drum Corps. RiverFest, a two-night festival, lights up the sky with fireworks every July 4th. In August one of the Top 10 craft fairs in the nation, the Festival of the Little Hills, extends through a whole weekend that includes historical re-enactments. Oktoberfest is a shout-out to the city’s German heritage; Missouri Tartan Day in April marks local Scottish American culture with marching bagpipers, caber tosses, hammer throws and tartan displays. The Irish have their days, too, with the Missouri River Irish Festival in September, the same month as the Bluegrass Festival in Frontier Park. Even gloomy winter lights up with the annual Fete de Glace, an ice carving competition in mid-January. And for walkers and bikers who might like to get away from it all, there’s the long but narrow Katy Trail state park that stretches 225 miles to the west along an old railroad right-of-way.