Fort Belle Fontaine County Park
A Confluence Attraction
Participating Confluence Organization
St. Louis County Parks
8:00 a.m. to 1/2-hour past sunset
13002 Bellefontaine Road
St. Louis MO 63138
(By car) From I-270 in north St. Louis County, take the Bellefontaine Road exit and proceed north until the road terminates at the park.
For a map of the trail visit http://www.stlouisco.com/parks/ftbellefontaine-walking-tour.html.
Belle Fontaine was the first U.S. military post to be established in the newly acquired Louisiana Territory, in 1805. For its first three years, it served as a trading post with local Sac, Fox and other Native American tribes. It later became an important command and supply center for several new frontier posts. The Fort helped launch a number of expeditions into the American West, including those of Zebulon Pike up the Mississippi River in 1805 and the Missouri in 1806, as well as the Yellowstone Expedition of 1818. The Lewis and Clark Expedition stayed at the Fort on the final night of their journey, September 22, 1806, before re-entering St. Louis.
Fairly quickly, fort personnel recognized the danger of the site’s location on low ground near the river. In 1810 and 1811, the Fort was relocated to the top of the Missouri River bluffs, involving the construction of 30 buildings of hewn logs on stone foundations, with blockhouses and palisades.
Belle Fontaine was abandoned in 1826 for the Jefferson Barracks. Only one small stone structure, not original, survives today. The original site of the Fort has been obliterated by shifts in the river channel, but interpretive markers describe the events of the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s stay there.
Out-and-back walking tours of 3/4-mile and three miles pass the relict stone Officers’ Quarters, stone features added to the park by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, and nearby quarry sites. Both routes run parallel to the Missouri River, with the long tour also traveling through pleasant woods bordering Coldwater Creek.
For more information about Fort Belle Fontaine, see
For more information about nearby recreational opportunities, see
http://mdc.mo.gov/areas/natareas/p117-1.htm (Pelican Island Natural Area)
http://www.mvs.usace.army.mil/rivers (Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area)