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.
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 toxic materials produced by the
plant were stored in open-air lagoons along with TNT and wastes and uranium
and radioactive materials were disposed of in a quarry. In 1967 the Army
took over the plant to produce dangerous herbicides. The processing plant
operated until 1968 after which the site was abandoned but still contained
contaminated equipment and hazardous chemicals.
1985 the U.S. Department of Energy took over the site to clean it up. In
2001 workers completed the burial of 1.5 million cubic yards of waste in a
covered mound that fills 45 acres and reaches 75 feet in the air. A viewing
platform on top of the disposal cell is the highest accessible point in St.
Charles County and has four plaques that provide information about the local
area, the history of the site, and the construction of the disposal cell.
the interpretive center was opened to the public. This 9,000-square-foot
interpretive center is housed in a building that was once used to check
workers for radioactivity. Exhibits explain the site's history, including of
the towns of Toonerville, Howell, and Hamburg, a timeline of significant
events of the site, the legacy of the TNT and uranium plants, the efforts of
the community to clean up the site, and how the disposal cell was
area features the Hamburg Trail, a ten-mile bike trail that connects the
site to the August Busch Memorial Conservation Area, the Weldon Spring
Conservation Area, and KATY Trail State Park. The Howell Prairie consists of
150 acres surrounding the disposal cell that has been seeded with over 100
species of native prairie grasses and forbs that mirror the pre-European
Weldon Spring Site & Interpretive Center
April 1 - October 31:
Monday - Friday: 9 am
- 5 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 4
pm (April 1 - October 31)
or 10 am - 2 pm (November 1 - March 31)
Sunday: 12 pm - 4 pm
Closed on Holidays
There is no charge to visit the
Weldon Spring Site & Interpretive Center.
Directions: Weldon Spring
Site & Interpretive Center is located approximately 2 1/2 miles south of
I-64/US-40 on MO-94 heading towards Defiance and Augusta.
Official site maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of