Tristan Johnson, Archivist
To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the establishment of St. Charles, statues of Seaman are being constructed throughout the city to honor this historical event. Seaman was the dog that accompanied Lewis and Clark on their journey to explore the land west of the Mississippi River after the Louisiana Purchase.
The city of St. Charles was founded in 1769 and was established as a hunting and trapping headquarters by Louis Blanchette, a French Canadian explorer. In May 1804, Lewis and Clark had come up the Missouri River and landed in St. Charles to officiate the transfer of the territory to becoming a part of the United States. This was only able to occur after the Louisiana Purchase, in which the United States purchased the land mass from France for $15 million, allowing the nation to double in size.
Statues of Seaman are beginning to pop up in front of many businesses in St. Charles. These three-foot tall statues are all painted by their respective businesses and will be proudly displayed for all to see. Beth Norviel, the St. Charles public information manager, stated that “it is similar to the birthday cakes that the city of St. Louis did.”
For those who may not recall, the city of St. Louis commissioned 250 statues of birthday cakes in 2014 to celebrate the city’s sestercentennial. One of these cakes was even located at UMSL and designed by the UMSL Fine Arts department.
Artist Gary Lucy was hired to create a painting of the moment in time when Lewis and Clark sailed from New Orleans along the Missouri River. The artist had to do much research, including looking at an original drawing done by William Clark of the vessel that they sailed on. “I don’t think people realize all the research that goes into a piece like this,” exclaimed Gary Lucy. The painting is currently on display in the lobby of St. Charles’ City Hall.
On Saturday, May 18, visitors to historic Main Street in St. Charles will have the opportunity to learn all about the city’s history through reenactments and historical demonstrations. At 10 a.m. on that day, guests can also catch a parade that celebrates every decade since the foundation of the city. Beth Norviel further goes on to explain that “this is a fun promotion to get residents and visitors out and about in the city.”
Today, the city of St. Charles is the ninth-largest city in Missouri, with a population of over 60,000 people. Many of the events in St. Charles take place on Main Street, a location with brick roads and old buildings that transport you back in time. During the holiday season, Christmas tales from around the world come alive through characters telling onlookers their stories. With their more recent endeavor into a Halloween festival, St. Charles also haunts Main Street with the ghosts of Halloween past. It is exciting waiting to see what they plan on doing next!
Who knew that a dog purchased for $20 nearly 250 years ago would get its own festival? While it may be a poorly named one, this is a festival to celebrate the accomplishments of the city of St. Charles over the past 250 years.