This Is Missouri’s Worst Tourist Trap? I Find It Kind of Interesting
According to Business Insider, the worst tourist trap in Missouri is what they call a mound of nuclear waste. Maybe I'm weird, but I find it kind of interesting.
I'm talking about Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center, which now sits on what the government calls the Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles County 30 miles from St. Louis. The Weldon Springs Site is located off of State Route 94, is 217 acres, and was the home of a chemical plant and a quarry.
Without getting into too many details, between the quarry, where limestone gravel was mined, and the chemical plant, the area became polluted with many different chemical and radiological contaminants. The ones you may be easily familiar with include arsenic, mercury, and PCBs. As far as nuclear waste goes, radium, thorium, and uranium were all found at the site.
These days it's been as completely cleaned up as it's going to get, and the government is monitoring things like groundwater, that couldn't be completely restored. The Department of Energy also built the Weldon Springs Interpretative Center on the site.
According to the Department of Energy, "The Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center offers a window to the past and demonstrates the U.S. Department of Energy’s commitment to the future. Exhibits address the history of the Weldon Spring area, the site’s contributions to World War II and the Cold War, cleanup, and continuing long-term stewardship." The site goes on to talk about its educational programs, tours, and research opportunities on the site.
There are also gardens, a prairie, trails, and a viewing platform at the top of the Weldon Spring Site Disposal Cell, which apparently offers an excellent view of St. Charles and St. Louis County. By the way, there's no charge to head over and explore the site either.
Maybe it's growing up in Chicago, where we all knew the first nuclear reactor was built under the stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, and eventually buried out at the Red Gate Woods, part of the Cook County Forest Preserves. As teenagers, we spent time going out looking and finding the site. Pretty much so we could say, yeah, we saw it. It was a big deal when you were a bored teenager.
Anyway, I think it would be an interesting experience to head to The Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center and learn how that site, and others, came to be polluted. How the Department of Energy, the EPA, and other agencies clean sites like Weldon Springs up, and what their importance was for our country at the time. Plus, I still think it'd be kind of interesting to say you've seen Weldon Spring Siite's Disposal Cell and walked around it.
In my mind, this doesn't so much rate as a tourist trap, as much as a place for junior high and high school science teachers to take their kids and teach them a little bit about science and history.
If you really want to check out a Missouri tourist trap, this is the place I'd suggest you check out. Also, this might be worth a look if you're driving to Chicago on the Interstate. Not to mention, I don't believe tourist traps are necessarily bad, especially as part of a road trip.