Visitors Guide to
Arnold, Crystal City
Festus, & Imperial

Jefferson County, Missouri
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Incorporated in 1972, Arnold is one of the newest communities in Jefferson County located just 20 miles south of St. Louis where the Meramec River joins the Mississippi. Arnold is the largest city in Jefferson County and is primarily a bedroom community with its population commuting to work in St. Louis and St. Louis County via I-55.

Crystal City

In the early 1840s the "Missouri and Illinois Mineral and Land Company" was formed and sent out Forrest Shepherd, a mineralogist and geologist, to search for mineral, agricultural, and timberlands that might become economically viable as the infrastructure of the United States improved. One of the locations he examined was the east side of Plattin Creek near its mouth in Jefferson County where he found silica of superior quality for glass manufacturing. In 1871 Capt. E. B. Ward bought the Plattin Creek claim and adjacent land and organized the "American Plate Glass Company."

The company began clearing land for a factory and a company town, originally called New Detroit. As the town grew, the residents sought their own identity, and the name was changed to Crystal City. The American Plate Glass Company was sold in 1877 to the Crystal Plate Glass Company of St. Louis, and in 1895 the factory, town, and all its holdings were acquired by Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, which later became PPG Industries.

In 1908 a new factory powered by steam generated direct current electricity was built. This factory, Crystal City Works Nine, became the largest plate glass plant in the world. Crystal City remained a company town until 1906, when PPG began selling lots to private citizens. During World War II PPG produced airplane canopy subassemblies for the Curtis Wright Company, which led to the formation the Aircraft Glass Division. In 1985 it was announced that the factory would be closing, but it operated until December of 1990.


The town of Festus was formed by consolidating several towns that were platted in the late 1870s about one mile west of the glass works on the Crystal City Railroad. The town was originally named Tanglefoot because the whisky sold in the town caused the men to get their feet tangled in the brush when they returned to their homes. As the town grew the name of Tanglefoot was disowned as vulgar and renamed Limitville, this name being suggested by the fact that expansion was limited by nearby Crystal City. Festus was incorporated as a fourth class city in 1887.

The derivation of the name is uncertain. One possibility is that it was to honor a person, as Festus was a common 19th century first name. Other possibilities include the historical figure Porcius Festus from Acts 25:22 in the Bible or after a once popular but now forgotten poem entitled "Festus" by the English writer Philip J. Bailey. Festus and Crystal City are commonly called "The Twin Cities."


Imperial was originally known as West Kimmswick and was platted in 1905. The name changed during World War I with the opening of the Imperial Clock Works. Mastodon State Historic Site is located in Imperial on West Outer Road and on Seckman Road.

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