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The area that became St. Charles was first settled in the early 1830s, and the city itself was incorporated on February 23, 1857. The Fox River provided power for mills and other industrial development such as paper manufacturing (St. Regis Paper Company) and food processing (Nestlé Purina PetCare). In addition to its river access for transportation, it lies along a major rail line—the former Chicago & Northwestern Railway main line known as "The Milwaukee Road"—and is served by two major interstates: I-88 runs east–west through town while I-290 travels north–south along its western border with Geneva.