Kenneth Steimel

St. Charles

Missouri

My hometown is St. Charles, Missouri. St. Charles is in the St. Louis metropolitan area. For all the St. Louisans out there I went to Francis Howell North.




As you can see, I'm not exactly from St. Louis but I'm going to include a picture of the Gateway Arch anyway: it's too symbolic to leave out.


St Louis Gateway Arch


My hometown is across the Missouri river from St. Louis county. The muddy Mississippi loops just north of St. Charles as well. As you can imagine, being at the confluence of these two huge river systems comes with occasional flooding. In 1993, the rivers flooded St.Charles for almost 100 days and were about 48 feet above normal.


1993-flood1


The flood waters reached the top of this flagpole at the monument to the 1993 flood near Portage de Sioux in St. Charles county.

My hometown is pretty historic for a town in the Midwest United States. For thousands of years, the Ilini, Osage and Missouri nations lived in the area. One of the largest cities in North America was actually just across the Mississippi in Cahokia, Illinois. This area was part of French Louisiana and was originally called Les Petites CĂ´tes meaning 'the little hills'. In the late 1700's Spain was given Louisiana. The Spanish influence, among other things, contributed the name St. Charles. The first church in the area was a catholic church named after the Italian Saint, Charles Borromeo. The name for that church was extended to include the entire town around it.
Daniel Boone and Nathan Boone also lived close to the city and were involved in much of the governmental affairs during Spanish rule.

Lewis and Clark's historical voyage to find a westward passage to the Pacific ocean started in St. Charles in 1804. Today there is a statue of them along with their newfoundland, Seaman, at the riverfront where they departed from. The boathouse in Frontier park has replicas of the keelboats that Lewis and Clark used on their expedition. These replicas were used in a reinactment of their expedition on the 200 year anniversary.

When Missouri became a state in 1821, the location where people wanted to build the capital, Jefferson City, was completely undeveloped and somewhat marshy. They needed a temporary capital until Jefferson City was a reality. This is the first capitol building in St. Charles.





You can take tours of this building today. I've actually toured it a couple times so maybe I can provide some information. The capitol was above a dry goods store, oddly enough. It served as the capitol from 1821 to 1826. Behind the capitol, there's a fenced-in yard with a log cabin from Kentucky. I always thought this cabin was pretty cool because of the breezeway that splits it down the middle. This site has been added to the registry of historic sites. You may have noticed that the streets are all brick. Historically, they were brick but sometime in the 1920's the city pulled most of the bricks and used asphalt instead. Around 50 years later, the city realized that the bricks were unique in comparison to the surrounding towns and put them back in. Now, main, second and all intersecting streets are brick. The downtown area has really grown lately. All the old buildings have new stores in them and, during December, the area is packed with shoppers. Personally, I go there for the coffee. I've been going to the same coffee house on main street since I started drinking coffee.



In the downtown area, there's also a park called Frontier Park. This park is a thin strip of land between the stores and the Missouri. This narrow strip used to be home to the MKT line which went from Missouri, to Kansas, to Texas (not sure what happened with Oklahoma in that acronym). Now this park is near the start of the Katy trail: a large trail which stretches from just east of downtown to Clinton, Missouri. That's over 240 miles long. I know a few people who have ridden the whole thing. Someday I'd like to accomplish that.


Katy Trail State Park Missouri


There's actually quite a bit to do in St. Charles. Oldtown provides plenty of stores, pubs and recreation areas while a newer area called the Streets of St. Charles provides restaurants and entertainment. There's a movie theater at the Streets of St. Charles and several bars.



If you ever get tired of St. Charles, though, there's tons to do in St. Louis. The City Museum is probably the most unique place in the city. The whole thing is a labyrinth of steel and concrete that you can climb on or duck through. Here's what the outside looks like.


City Museum outdoor structures


The building used to be an old shoe factory. It now has a cave system, circus tent, bank vault, whale, skate park, and an architectural museum inside. On the roof, there are is a Ferris wheel, slide and a school bus that overhangs the edge of the building. You can just see the school bus at the top of that picture.



I truly love the history and the culture of my hometown.