Boys were laughing and playing in the river. Speedboats whizzed by with a deafening roar. Tiny squirrels rushed across the path to avoid the many cyclists that barreled by (this is definitely a cycling city). These observations come from stolen minutes away from the QCenter in St. Charles, Illinois, which locals affectionately call “The Q.”

The river is known as the Fox River and it’s long been the lifeblood of the area. Before the arrival of settlers the area was inhabited by the Algonquin speaking Potawatomie tribe. Pieces of the story of Charlemagne and his Sons pepper plaques on the bridge and surrounding area. The compiled legend can be found at St. Charles’ Heritage Center.

Here is the piece we found on the Main Street bridge in St. Charles where all four fox brothers sit and watch the town:

The Legend of Charlemagne

…I would like you, my four sons, to be the guardians of this growing settlement, to see that it does become a great community in which men can live, can work, can be educated, can worship, and can play.

You, my firstborn, are to be the guardian of the civic, the business, the industrial life of this community.

Education will become important in the life of this growing community. And you, my second son, are to be the guardian of this educational and cultural expression.

Soon after this community has been settled, men will band together to worship, and you, my third son, are to be entrusted with the guardianship of this religious expression.

Amid this beautiful setting, it is only natural that recreation will flourish, and you, my last-born, shall be the guardian of this natural recreation expression of man living in these surroundings.

As for me, I shall now leave you to join my Indian friends.”

Finishing his talk, Charlemagne then bade farewell to his four sons and walked out of the den into the night and westward.

I’m told be one of the locals that the best (and fastest) way to enjoy the river is by bike. Most hotels have a bike rental service and paths run along the Fox for miles. Another way to enjoy the river (and escape the heat) is to rent a canoe, kayak or pedal boat from one of the many vendors in the area.

There are Paddlewheel Riverboats that runs a handful of times in the afternoon in Potawatomie Park. Unfortunately, we arrived too late for the last tour of the day.