The Village of Glen Carbon as we know it began as "The Land of Goshen" in 1799. People started moving into the area creating the Goshen Settlement around 1801. This was almost a century before the Village was officially established in June of 1892. Workers from the Madison Coal Company and the St. Louis Press Brick Company wanted to create a company town that provided for its workers. They joined forces with 78 locals to petition the county and incorporate the Village. Within a decade, Glen Carbon had annexed surrounding areas, like Peters Station in the west and the Mont Settlement in the east, growing with its population.
As a mining and railroading town, the Village was a center of travel for both goods and people. It was common for residents and visitors to board a train and travel to Saint Louis using one of the two local train depots. These railroads were essential to agricultural, brick, and mining operations, as it was the easiest and most efficient way to deliver goods from Glen Carbon’s flourishing industries.
Glen Carbon was home to the St. Louis Press Brick Company that supplied bricks to surrounding towns and the construction of the 1904 World's Fair buildings in Forest Park, a few of which still stand today.
Main Street was a bustling mercantile center with various merchants, grocers, and saloons. In 1894, the Village passed an ordinance called “In Relation to Misdemeanors,” putting a law enforcement team directly in town rather than relying on the Township or County Constable. With 13 taverns and no churches in 1895, it is clear why the growing population would pass such an ordinance. The lively community then created its first volunteer fire department in 1893.
Because of the local brick and mining industry, Glen Carbon became a hub for immigrants, each gathering with others from similar areas and recreating familiar spaces. As a result, many neighborhood organizations sprang up, their mission to preserve their heritage, but with events open to all and offering a sense of community rivaled by none. The Village’s new residents watched out and cared for each other, something that continues today.
Over the years, Glen Carbon has transformed from an energetic industrial center, to a serene, quiet hamlet, and back. Stores that previously bustled along Main Street have shifted to the eastern part of the Village, allowing "Old Town" to reveal its quaint, small town atmosphere beloved by both residents and visitors. The map above showcases the history of the Village by offering pictures of former and current structures and their histories. Click on the green pins to see photos of a past location and learn about the early years of Glen Carbon.
To learn more about the history of Glen Carbon and its residents, stop by the Glen Carbon Heritage Museum located at 124 School Street in "Old Town" Glen Carbon. Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday and Saturday 9am-3pm.