ST. LOUIS – Remnants of World War II history are scattered around the suburbs and outskirts of the St. Louis region. Nearly one century later, some military bunkers still exist in prime form.

Bunkers, also known to some as fallout shelters, played a crucial role during World War II, offering a base of protection against the threat of enemy attacks from the air or ground. They also held critical supplies, weapons, and explosives that U.S. military members could use for defensive or offensive operations in prolonged periods of conflict.

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World War II-era bunkers still exist in at least four spots near St. Louis. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given the region’s history of developing atomic weapons through The Manhattan Project.

History enthusiasts continue to find the preservation of military bunkers fascinating, so much so that one man made it a mission to explore on site with bunkers in St. Charles County earlier this spring.

So where do World War II-era bunkers still exist around St. Louis? Let’s take a closer look.

NOTE: Keep in mind that most of these are in restricted areas and may require certain permissions to visit.

August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area

Location: Weldon Spring, Missouri (St. Charles County)

The Missouri Department of Conservation purchased the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area from the federal government in 1947. MDC reports that the Department of Army used the area “as a TNT munitions plant to support the World War II effort.” The area still consists of more than 100 of the original TNT storage bunkers.

A Youtube influencer with a series titled “The History Underground” recently published a video during which he spotted four bunkers and explained their historical context. “They built these bunkers all over, and inside would house these explosives until they were ready to be moved to another place,” he explained.

Some bunkers still stored older materials, while others were empty or defaced by graffiti. Still, the influencer credits the conservation area for its reclamation efforts.

Washington University Tyson Research Center

Location: Unincorporated West St. Louis County, Missouri

The Tyson Research Center is an environmental field station of Washington University that allows for research and education opportunities. It is also home to the Endangered Wolf Center, which is dedicated to protecting endangered wolves.

According to the Endangered Wolf Center, some past tours have begun inside a World War II bunker. The federal government once constructed 65 bunkers that camouflaged into the hillsides. The bunkers were 30 and 10 yards deep, storing ammunition and other military supplies.

Washington University acquired the land in 1963 for the research center, and at least two bunkers are still used for food and hay storage, according to the Endangered Wolf Center. The university also used a bunker at the research center for a recent study of music and arts.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Carterville, Illinois (Williamson County)

The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge promotes several major habitats in southern Illinois, including hardwood forest, brushland, wetlands and lakes. It’s a big attraction for foxes and birds, including bald eagles.

Many decades before, the federal government placed bunkers around the area “for storage of bombs, mines, shells, and other high explosives,” according to the refuge. The bunkers are restricted with various security patrols as some still contain live ammunition.

Just last year, organizers announced an auction of several non-explosive items still stored inside the refuge bunkers. Southern Missouri TV station KFVS reports these items included vintage TVs, typewriters, and transmitter receivers.

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Sangamon Ordnance Plant

Location: Illiopolis, Illinois (Sangamon County)

Historians say the Sangamon Ordnance Plant produced 24 million artillery shells and more than 100 million artillery and bomb fuses and boosters throughout the 1940s in support of World War II. With the production came many bunkers situated around the plant.

According to a report from The State Journal-Register, the plant closed near the end of the war and many of its buildings were dismantled. The land has since been transformed into more of a farming area.

Bloggers from say the bunkers were still scattered throughout farmland and exist “with mounds of dirt and vegetation atop” as of 2014. It’s unclear how many bunkers around the farmland may still store items or whether public access is permitted. Various YouTube videos over the years have explored the abandoned grounds.