St. Charles County, Missouri
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
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
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.
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