Lake Charles was first settled in the mid to late 1700s by French colonists and was originally known as "Charlie's Lake," named after one of the earliest settlers. Early in its history the city was also known as "Charlestown." Early industry focused on lumber, but the city later became a major player in the oil/gas and sulfur industries. One nearby town is even named Sulfur.
French/Acadian heritage lives on in this region, which is not far from the heart of Cajun country in Central Louisiana.
Not far from Lake Charles is much of the nation's strategic petroleum reserve, which was started in the 1970s. The reserve is comprised of vast underground salt caverns that contain billions of barrels worth of oil.
Today, there is also a historic district in downtown Lake Charles to highlight the city's many fine Victorian era homes. Guided tours of some of the privately owned homes are available through the local historical society.
Today Lake Charles is one of the largest cities in Louisiana and its beaches and lake make it very popular for outdoor recreation and other recreation. Some call it the "Cajun Riviera."