Journey on the Fall Foliage Road: Exploring the German Heritage Corridor | Online Features






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As the leaves turn from green to gold and rust red, finding the best views of fall foliage means looking no further than St. Charles County where a country road runs parallel to the highway. 94 offers breathtaking vistas, new discoveries and rediscovered history at every turn.

Specifically, head to the highway ribbon that connects Weldon Spring to Washington, part of the German Heritage Corridor. Created in 2016 by Missouri Humanities, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to providing educational programs for Missourians, the hallway is filled with engaging activities for all ages.

Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center: Just a few miles on the highway. 94 from I-64/Freeway. 40 is an unsuspecting building. If it wasn’t for the huge pile of gravel and concrete behind it, you might miss it. This site once housed the Weldon Spring Ordnance Works, which was built during World War II to produce explosives and then processed uranium ore during the Cold War. However, before the site was built, this land was home to three towns: Hamburg, Howell and Toonerville, all of which were forced to evacuate to allow the plant to be built. Hamburg was a city founded by German immigrants and has maintained a predominantly German population throughout its history.

While the Interpretation Center, which contains information about the towns that were evacuated, the factory that took their place and the massive cleanup effort that culminated in the construction of a giant containment cell, is Temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Weldon Spring site is open to the public during the day.

The site serves as the starting point for the 6-mile Hamburg Trail multi-use trail with connections to Missouri Department of Conservation trail systems, the Great Rivers Greenway trail system, and the Katy Trail State Park historic trail that extends to across the state along the Missouri River. Plus, a climb to the top of its 41-acre disposal cell offers panoramic views of St. Charles County and the 150-acre Howell Prairie. On a clear day, visitors can see as far as The Arch.

Climb to the top and take a picture that you can share on our Facebook page using the hashtag: #germanheritagecorridor.

Daniel Boone Home in Defiance: Operated by St. Charles County Parks and Recreation, Daniel Boone’s historic home is beautifully situated atop the hills of Missouri wine country in Defiance. Gottfried Duden, whose 19th-century writings about the Missouri Valley inspired thousands of German immigrants to settle in the area, spent four days here during his travels.

The site is made up of nearly 300 acres, which includes the Daniel Boone House and the Village Historic Site Complex. Visitors to the site can see depictions of pioneer life in early 1800s Missouri through tours and living history demonstrations. The site hosts many special events throughout the year where children and adults can experience history hands-on. The resort is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tours start at 9am Monday-Saturday and 12pm Sunday (fee applies). For more details and current pandemic protocols, visit sccmo.org/1701/The-Historic-Daniel-Boone-Home.

Osage Woman Christ United Church in Augusta: This beautiful church, founded in 1833, located at 4360 Cappeln Osage Road, housed the first evangelical congregation west of the Mississippi River. Churches often served more than just the religious center of the city; they regularly served as the venue for many city activities, from dances and picnics to festivals and fundraisers. Often the establishment of a church and its accompanying congregation is what established the town itself, as was the case with Femme Osage.

Visitors are encouraged to respectfully explore the historic cemeteries and beautiful church landscapes.

The Peers store in Marthasville: Make a pit stop during your drive along the freeway. 94 or your family bike ride on the Katy Trail and visit the Peers Store, 16011 Concord Hill Road, Marthasville.

Recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the store opened in 1896 as the Glosemeyer General Store. It was owned and operated by the Glosemeyer family, German immigrants who settled in what was then called Peers, Missouri. The family took advantage of the railroad boom and built a general store just steps from the tracks of the Katy Railroad line that ran through Missouri until the 1980s. Today, on a typical weekend, visitors can grab a snack and listen to music on the porch.

The store is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through October.

Corn carving on Treloar Mercantile and Missouri: A few miles west of Peers is Treloar, home to the Treloar Mercantile Building and the largest ear of corn in the state.

The Mercantile was built in 1896, like Peers, to accommodate the new Katy Railway. Also owned by the Katy Land Trust, the building is still in the midst of preservation efforts, so it may one day be open to the public. For now, visitors can read the sign in the Mercantile’s window to learn about the building’s history, tour the grain elevator, and take a selfie with a giant corn cob (#katycorn).

Corn is carved from the remains of a massive elm tree that has grown to the right of the Mercantile for over 100 years. Unfortunately the tree died before the site was purchased by Katy Land Trust. But when he was felled, his 12-foot stump was quickly hewn out of the tallest ear of corn in Missouri!

Downtown Washington: As you continue to explore the German Heritage Corridor, the city of Washington should not be missed.

Founded by German immigrants, with a beautiful downtown bustling with activity, there’s something for everyone in this quintessential Missouri River town, from shopping to dining to special events.

If you happen to be there on a Saturday, be sure to visit the Washington Farmers’ Market and ask about the Sprouts Kids Club, which allows visiting veggie lovers to receive a punch card and get a fist” on every visit to the Farmers’ Market. Completed cards can be exchanged for tokens and used to buy items at the market. It’s a fun way to encourage kids to eat healthier and eat local! The market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. until October.

Upcoming special events include the city’s 20th Annual Fall Arts and Crafts Festival from September 25-27 and the Pumpkin Palooza on October 30, featuring a giant pumpkin contest, seed spitting contest, and pumpkin roll. pumpkin patch, as well as a costume contest, story time, music from Babaloo, and sleight of hand at the city’s stores. At the end of November, don’t miss the illuminated holiday parade.

To help you plan your trip to Washington, visit downtownwashmo.org.

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Caitlin Yager, director of heritage programs for the Missouri Humanities Council, contributed to this article. For more information on the German Heritage Corridor, visit mohumanities.org.