Saint Stanislaus Conservation Area is in north St. Louis County. The Missouri Department of Conservation leases this 812-acre area from the St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation and manages it for a variety of wildlife species. The area was named for the former Saint Stanislaus Seminary which used this site for a retreat. Old building foundations from this retreat still remain.
Early French explorers named this historic bluff "La Charbonier," which means coal seam and the bluff was one of the most familiar landmarks along the lower Missouri River and was described by most of its early explorers and geologists. In May 1804, William Clark (of the Lewis & Clark expedition) described Charbonier Bluff in his journal: “The next morning we set sail at five o’clock. At the distance of a few miles, we passed a remarkably large coal hill, called by the French ‘La Charbonniere.'” The exposed coal seam located at the base of the Bluff served as a readily available source of fuel for early river traffic and settlers.
Long before the exploration of Charbonier Bluff, it was an important site for Native Americans. Burial mounds have been identified on the south side of the bluff, and two pyramidal platform mounds have been found. People of the Middle to Late Woodland Period and the Emergent or Early Mississippian periods occupied seasonal villages here, alternating between the bluff top in the summer and the riverside in the winter.
With the increasing development of northwestern St. Louis County, the Saint Stanislaus Conservation Area remains an oasis of varied natural beauty as seen from afar, and its potential for outdoor recreation is high.