Visitors Guide to Weldon Spring, Missouri
















 

 
 

Weldon Spring
St. Charles County, Missouri

   
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Weldon Spring has a long history of human occupation. Sioux, Osage, and other Native American tribes were drawn to the beautiful spring with its unlimited supply of pure sparkling water that flowed from the rocky hillside. Evidence of their occupation was found when excavating foundations for a new school and church.

The first Europeans to explore the Weldon Spring area were the Spaniards around 1541. In 1796 John Weldon, a frontiersman from North Carolina, obtained a land grant for 425 acres from the Spanish and became the first European to settle in the area by building a log home overlooking the spring, thus giving his name to the spring. After Native Americans burned the cabin in the early 1800s, Weldon with the help of neighbors built a larger home with four rooms downstairs, one room upstairs and two fireplaces. The Emmanuel United Church of Christ now occupies this land and the spring is still visible, located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Highway 94 and I-64.

Weldon’s heirs sold the Weldon Grant in 1829 and it was eventually purchased by John McMillan. In 1849, John McMillan, Jr. is credited with laying out the town, and calling it Weldon Spring.  The original plat shows 14 lots, some irregular in shape, on both sides of Marthasville Road (now known as Highway 94.) One of the first businesses in Weldon Spring was a cog mill, powered by water from the spring. Other early businesses were a blacksmith shop, gun shop, gristmill, general store, and a shoemaker’s shop. Many original structures constructed in the community are still standing today.

In 1940 when it was apparent the United States would eventually be drawn into World War II the Army purchased 17,232 acres of largely rural land near Weldon Spring. Displacing towns of Hamburg, Howell, and Toonerville and 576 citizens of the area the army built the Weldon Spring Ordnance Works. The Atlas Powder Company operated the plant and production began in 1941. At its peak more than 5,000 people were employed in over 1,000 buildings produced over 700 million pounds of TNT by the end of the war. After the war the Army sold most of the land to the Missouri Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri. Those acreages are now the Busch Memorial Conservation Area and the Weldon Spring Conservation Area.

The Army kept 200 acres and on this property the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission built a uranium ore processing plant in 1958. The Weldon Spring Uranium Feed Mill Plant processed raw uranium ore into “yellow cake,” or concentrated ore that was shipped to other sites. The processing plant operated until 1966 after which the site was abandoned but still contained contaminated equipment and hazardous chemicals.

In the 1980s the U.S. Department of Energy took over the site to clean it up. All that remains of the giant explosives factory are a few concrete bunkers used to store explosives scattered around the August Busch Memorial Conservation Area. The area now features a 200-acre site surrounded by thousands of acres of public land for hunting, fishing, hiking and bicycling.

Growth in the community has always continued at a very slow pace compared with its counterparts in northern St. Charles County. The image of the Weldon Spring is a small town of approximately 5,000 people surrounded by open pastures and fields, giving way to rolling fields and woods towards the Missouri River.




FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
August A. Busch
Conservation Area
Daniel Boone Home
Defiance, MO
First State Capitol
of Missouri
Katy Trail
State Park