Commemorative Air Force
Saint Charles County, Missouri
In 1980 dedicated enthusiasts formed a squadron of the
Commemorative Air Force in St. Louis, Missouri and in 1981 the
squadron was granted wing status becoming the 25th C.A.F. Wing.
This self-supporting, all-volunteer group is located at St.
Charles County Smartt Airport and operates a small WWII
Memorabilia Museum. The Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air
Force currently has three operational WW-II aircraft: a North
American B-25J Mitchell bomber, a Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo
bomber, and an Aeronca L-3.
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first recorded Europeans to reach St. Charles County were Father Jacques
Marquette and Louis Joliet who were exploring the Mississippi River
Valley. In June 1673 on seeing the confluence of the Mississippi and
Missouri Marquette wrote in his journal, “I have seen nothing more
dreadful. An accumulation of large and entire trees, branches and floating
islands was issuing from the mouth of the river, with such impetuosity
that we could not, without great danger, risk passing through it.” While
the point of confluence has changed over time as the rivers make new
channels, the meeting of the two rivers can be seen at Confluence Point
State Park (photo right.)
interest in the region was limited mainly to fur trapping until the late
18th century. The first Europeans to live in St. Charles County were 15
Spanish soldiers who manned a blockhouse in 1767 at the confluence to
ensure that boats going up the Missouri had a trading license. In 1769 a
French-Canadian named Louis Blanchette established the first European
settlement on the Missouri River. Blanchette named the village Les Petite
Cotes (The Little Hills, later to become San Carlos) because of the low
bluffs along the Missouri River running along the length of the town.
first American settlers began arriving in the 1790s. Daniel Boone, the
famous frontiersman, became one of the first American settlers in St.
Charles County by building a home in Defiance in 1799. In 1804, when the
Louisiana Purchase was finalized, San Carlos’ name was Anglicized to St.
Charles. On May 16, 1804, William Clark arrived in St. Charles, still at
the time a predominately French community, with the main body of the Corps
of Discovery to await the arrival of Meriwether Lewis who still in St.
Louis. Lewis arrived from St. Louis on May 20, and the expedition resumed
their epic journey up the Missouri the next day. St. Charles has been
designated as a Lewis and Clark site on the Lewis and Clark National
Historic Trail and is the home of the Lewis & Clark Boat House and
Nature Center (photo right.)
Missouri became a state in 1821 two adjoining Federal-style brick
buildings on Main Street in St. Charles served as the seat of state
government until 1826, when the capitol building in Jefferson City was
ready. The buildings were bought by the state in 1961 and were restored
and are located within an easy walk from the new St. Charles Visitors
Center. There are also a large variety of restaurants, specialty shops,
and bed and breakfasts located in the historic St. Charles Historic
to this day the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers are major national
highways in the Midwest. But until the mid 19th century they were the
primary routes of transportation in Middle America whether by canoe,
keelboat, or steamboat. The railroad arrived in St. Charles County in the
1850s and became the major mode of travel until paved roads began being
built in the 1920s. The Katy Trail, the old route of the
Missouri-Kansas-Texas rail line and Missouri’s longest state park,
begins in Frontier Park in St. Charles and follows the Missouri River
until it reaches Clinton in western Missouri.
immigrants began arriving in large numbers beginning in the 1830s and by
the 1850s largely towns with a strong German heritage like Augusta were
prospering. The Germans began making wine soon after their arrival and the
vineyards in the area had achieved a reputation for excellence by the
1850s. The vineyards were dealt a severe blow by Prohibition began to
revive in the late 1960s and Highway 94 has become known as the
Weinstrasse, or "The Wine Road." Today Augusta’s economy
caters to visitors and offers antique shops, small boutiques, restaurants,
and bed and breakfast inns.
just north of St. Louis and within an easy drive from both
the city and St. Louis County, St. Charles County offers its visitors a diverse array
of attractions and events, historical heritage, natural beauty, and