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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Katy Trail -- Weldon Springs to Augusta

Yesterday, my son and I and a friend went for a bike ride on the Katy Trail. We started at the Weldon Spring Site and Interpretive Center. In the 1940s, the US Army purchased the property for the production of ordnance. In the late 1950s the US Atomic Energy Commission began processing yellow cake uranium here. In 1985, the Department of Energy took over to process the nuclear waste. By 2001, 1.5 million cubic yards of waste was encased, covering 45 acres to the height of 75 feet. Now this spot is marked with an interpretative center open to the public. From here it is about six miles to the Katy Trail proper.

The Mound In the Background is the Waste Site

The trail from the Weldon Springs site consists of old dirt roads. There is a steep hill with an elevation change of about 1200 feet (a 6% grade). Going down is easy, while going back up it after a 25 mile ride is not. The path is rutted from water gullies but not especially difficult to ride.

The Trail from Weldon Springs to the Katy Trail

From Weldon Springs we road to Defiance and stopped at the bike shop.

Bike Shop in Defiance, MO

Bridge Across the Femme Osage Creek Near Daniel Boon's Homestead

Approaching a Tunnel

Exhausted after the Ride

This ride was the first use of my Hero GoPro camera. It is a great camera with video capabilities. I haven't totally figured out how to use it. Somehow I took 3,000 photos on the bike ride. I think it was snapping pictures periodically during the ride. It should make an interesting companion on future trips.

It was also very hot about 95 to 100 degrees. The heat index was even higher. I took the High Sierra Sports Hydration pack with me, which holds 2 liters of water. A good review of it can be found here. In this heat, I found that 2 liters was not quite enough. In fact, I think I suffered some symptoms of heat exhaustion. Always need to be careful riding in such hot conditions.

Overall we rode about 30 miles, from the Weldon Spring Site to Augusta and back -- hitting the towns of Defiance, Matson, and Augusta -- prime Missouri wine country. On my next ride along the Katy Trail, I want to hit the town of Dutzow, from where Gottfried Duden wrote  Bericht über eine Reise nach den westlichen Staaten Nordamerika's ("Report of a journey to the western states of North America") which gave romantic and glowing descriptions of the Missouri River valley between St. Louis and Hermann, Missouri. His book resulted in many Germans immigrating to Missouri.


  1. Thanks, Albert, another great write-up. Weldon Springs is an interesting place, no? When I was in the army reserve (93-01), we trained out there monthly. The ruins of the ordnance works were fascinating places to explore, and there were several portions that were off-limits due to continuing radition contamination. And we'd always taking fishing poles because the ponds were absolutely full of fish, as well as the source of much speculation if they were safe to eat.

  2. Looks like there's a smudge on the lens.