St. Charles, Illinois

Originally home to the Pottawatomie -- the Neshnabi, as they called themselves -- St. Charles, Illinois is situated along the banks of the Fox River, about 40 miles west of Chicago.  The river, as the Pottawatomie well knew, was a tremendous asset, and white Anglo-Saxons were quick to discover this.  Not only was the river a source of water power, the land around it was an abundant source of firewood, game and fresh spring water and limestone -- one of the major building materials still seen in numerous area dwellings today.  Moving into the area in the 1830s, these early European pioneers eventually drove the Native Americans from their home.

Filling Station in St Charles

In 1836, the first dam was completed in what was then Charleston. It was a great source of power to grind flour and cut wood, both necessary to a growing town which, in 1839 changed its name to St. Charles. 1857 saw an iron bridge constructed across the Fox River, replacing several failed wooden ones, during a time when the city experienced great growth, aided by the influx -- not unlike sister city Geneva to the south -- of hard-working Swedish immigrants. The years of 1920-1940 brought now-familiar names like the Cable Piano Factory and Moline Malleable, Hotel Baker and Arcada Theatre to St. Charles, the philanthropic contributions of the Gates, Norris and Baker families.

Although St. Charles has experienced incredible growth, it still has the small-town allure that brought to its borders people from far and wide. There is an abundance of recreational areas -- including Pottawatomie Park -- picture-postcard scenic views along the Fox River, fine restaurants, great shopping opportunities and some of the friendliest folks in the valley.





Baker Memorial Church