Waterloo is the county seat of Monroe County and has approximately 7,000 residents. Located within 30 minutes of downtown St. Louis, the courthouse square and tree-lined streets give Waterloo small town charm and a distinct atmosphere.
The town is a bedroom community with a large percentage of its citizens working in St. Louis and other surrounding cities. Scott Air Force base is located only 25 minutes away. The community is centrally located in the county and convenient to attractions in the St. Louis area and Southern Illinois.
Illinois Route 3 runs through Waterloo, making the town easily accessible to the metropolitan area.
Waterloo has several city parks as well as a number of historic sites. The Peterstown House is a 150-year-old building refurbished and restored as a museum. It was a stage coach stop on the Kaskaskia Trail. Peterstown was the name given to the northern portion of the town. The house is located on North Main St. Bellefontaine House, on the southern edge of the city, is restored as the site of the earliest settlement made by colonists of American descent in the State of Illinois (1782). The first Americans came from Maryland and Virginia in 1781. They settled at Bellefontaine, which was a name given by the French, to a spring located there. The county seat was moved from Harrisonville, near Valmeyer on the banks of the Mississippi River, to Waterloo in 1825.
Waterloo plays host to a number of attractions, including the Monroe County Fair the last week of July. The community has a sister city partnership with Porta Westfalica, Germany and hosts a Porta Westfalica Fest in June in honor of the partnership. German visitors are often present for the festival at the courthouse square. Municipal band concerts are held every Tuesday, June through August at the courthouse square.
Waterloo has all the amenities of a modern city of its size and operates its own water treatment and municipal power plants. It is also home to the locally-owned telephone service provider, the Harrisonville Telephone Co. The city operates under a non-partisan aldermanic form of government. The enactment of zoning in 1972, is considered a benchmark in the city's current direction. The city's historic Morrison Talbott Library was recently enlarged and modernized.
Waterloo is surrounded by rich farmland, making agriculture a key component of the area's economy.
For more information about Waterloo, contact the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce at P.O. Box 1, Waterloo, IL 62298. Telephone number is 618-939-5300.
On October 2, 1980, the mayor of the City of Waterloo announced that the city would form a partnership with Porta Westfalica, West Germany. The announcement was the culmination of months of active promotion and planning by Waterloo's Vera Kohlmeier and Porta Westfalica's Helmut Macke.
Her genealogical research had led Mrs. Kohlmeier to the area surrounding Minden and Porta Westfalica, and she eventually concluded that perhaps two thirds of the German-ancestry citizens of Monroe County could claim heritage from this area of northern Germany.
Because of similar research by citizens on both sides of the Atlantic, letters were exchanged and face-to-face meetings were held in both countries. The happy result was official Sister Cities status for the Waterloo-Porta Westfalica Partnershaft, or partnership, in April 1981.
Porta Westfalica came into existence in 1973 as a consolidation of 15 villages into a modern city of 40,000 people. Located on the West River in northern Germany, Porta Westfalica is situated in a valley between two large hills and takes its name from its prominence as the "gateway to Westphalia." A major point of interest is the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial atop one of these hills. The area is known to tourists and vacationers for its large number of windmills, for its resorts, and for its unique mixture of old and new.
Plans began immediately for a visit to Waterloo by the famous Blaserkreis, Porta Westfalica's 70-member youth brass band, and their chaperones. The 10-day tour of the Blaeserkreis came in July 1981, with concerts in Waterloo, Belleville, and St. Louis. Families in Waterloo and the surrounding area hosted the German visitors; we took this group of young musicians into our homes-and, quickly, into our hearts.
Out of the Blaserkreis visit arose a new annual event in Waterloo: Porta Westfalica Day, jointly sponsored by Sister Cities-Portaloo, the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, and the Waterloo Lions Club. This festival celebrates our partnership with the German city and features a parade, music, food, and crafts that are a part of the area's cultural heritage. Vera Kohlmeier received the VerdienstKREUZ from Der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Bonn-April 7 1986.
The success of the visit can be measured partly by our receiving the Reader's Digest Award for the Best Single Sister City Project in the small-city category. Since 1982, six other Reader's Digest awards have been received by Waterloo in various categories.
From the very beginning, officials and citizens of both cities have visited their counterparts abroad, enjoying home visits. It is a special characteristic of Sister Cities that citizens and government officials work hand in hand to further their goal of a broadened awareness and understanding of the commonalities of our cultures.
Each summer since 1981, students from Porta Westfalica have spent several weeks in Waterloo as part of an ongoing exchange program. Since 1984, Sister Cities-Portaloo has sponsored visits of local youths to Porta Westfalica.
In June 1982, the Waterloo German Band and 40 other adults traveled to Porta Westfalica. The group was able to establish lasting friendships by living with host families. Forty-five people from our area were on hand in March and April of the following year to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Blaserkreis and the tenth anniversary of the founding of the City of Porta Westfalica. Later in the same year, 45 adults from the Porta Westfalica area visited Waterloo.
Waterloo was again host to 60 people from Porta Westfalica in June 1985. A group from Waterloo visited in Porta Westfalica in 1986, in 1990, and most recently in 1994. Visits by the German group have occurred in 1988, 1992, and 1996.
Joys and sorrows have been shared in our partnership with Porta Westfalica: anniversaries, birthdays, engagements, deaths, loving friendships. These occasions have only strengthened our ties.
Monetary donations have been sent from Waterloo to Porta Westfalica for aiding East German refugees. During 1993's perilous flood, Porta Westfalica sent monetary donations to us to be used for flood relief.
Sister Cities-Portaloo has aided surrounding communities in establishing Sister Cities relationships. Our neighbors in Columbia, Illinois and Belleville, Illinois have formed partnerships in recent years with Gedern, Germany and Paderborn, Germany, respectively. We often participate in combined functions and freely exchange ideas with Sister Cities organizations in both Illinois and Missouri. It is the philosophy of Sister Cities-Portaloo that in Sister Cities work, there are no boundaries!
The dreams and aspirations of Sister Cities-Portaloo are summed up in these words of the German poet Goethe: "To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of the distances or thoughts unexpressed...that can make of the earth a garden."
For more information contact Sister Cities--Portaloo, P.O. Box 15, Waterloo, IL 62298.
An outgrowth of President Eisenhower's People-to-People Program (initiated in 1956), Sister Cities International has helped more than 745 U.S. cities establish links with over 1000 communities in 86 other nations of the world. The organization itself was incorporated in 1967 and supports its activities by private contributions, foundation grants, and funding support from the U.S. Information Agency and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The major activities of Sister Cities International are technical assistance programs with developing nations, youth and education programs, a national awards program, assistance in formalizing new affiliations, and a research and informational service.