During most of the nineteenth century, St. Louis was the hub of trade and culture for the great western waterway system of the upper and lower Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois rivers. Founded by the French in 1864, St. Louis was, by the time the Mormons first visited it, a sixty-seven year old settlement, a nine year old city—a young giant destined to become the "Fourth City" of our country by the end of the century. Throughout the Missouri and Illinois periods of the Church, up to the coming of the railroad to Utah in 1869 and beyond, St. Louis was the most important non-Mormon city in Church history. It became an oasis of tolerance and security for the Mormons. St. Louis deserves high praise because it never condoned nor participated in the Missouri or Illinois persecution of the Mormons.