Wild West

VENERABLE JEFFERSON BARRACKS

In the years following the 1804 Louisiana Purchase, an ever-rising flood of settlers followed the early explorers and trappers onto this immense tract of land that would comprise much of the American West. As the frontier boundary extended westward, U.S. soldiers out of Fort Belle Fontaine—erected in 1805 near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers north of St. Louis—provided the law and order necessary to protect American interests. By the mid-1820s, however, the poorly constructed installation had fallen into disrepair.

With eyes on building a replacement fort, General Edmund P. Gaines, Brig. Gen. Henry Atkinson, Missouri Governor John Miller and then Superintendent of Indian Affairs William Clark of Corps of Discovery fame found a suitable site 10 miles south of St. Louis, the city that would come to be known as the “Gateway to the West.” On a high bluff with a strategic vantage of the Mississippi, the location also offered a

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