St Clair History
The earliest settlers in eastern Missouri were Frenchmen seeking gold and silver around 1720. One hundred years later mining developed locally with the opening of the lead and tiff (barite) mines at Virginia Mines in 1832. Later, iron and lead mining came to Moselle and Anaconda in the 1840s. Mining was a mainstay until the 1930s.
St. Clair was established in 1843 as Traveler’s Repose, a stagecoach way station from St. Louis to Springfield. It had a hotel and a post office. In 1859, the Southwest Branch of the Pacific Railroad arrived. The name was changed to St. Clair in honor of a civil engineer from the railroad. The arrival of the railroad caused the town to grow as it provided a means for shipping products to St. Louis, e.g.: lead, iron ore, tiff, lumber, livestock, poultry, and grain, the economic backbones of the community.
When the mining and lumbering industries played out, they were replaced by the coming of International Shoe Company in 1922. From 1920 to 1930 the population increased from 410 to 1453– one out of three people worked in the shoe factory. Transportation to St. Louis grew with the opening of Highways 30 and upgrading of U.S. 66 (now I-44). St. Clair soon became a resort for residents in St. Louis.
After International Shoe Company closed in 1982, residents began commuting to St. Louis for employment. St. Clair today is a rural bedroom community of the metropolitan area. However, the concentrated effort by the City may write another chapter here. There are now over 15 major industries and approximately 200 retail establishments. The population of the city is about 4724, with 15,000 people living in the school district.