In 1768, the Spanish built a fort on the nearby banks of the Missouri River. Phoenix Map Tourist Attractions This was replaced in 1780 with Fort San Carlos and other fortifications within St. Louis. During the Country War for Independence, the city came under attack by the British with allied natives. In the only Revolutionary battle fought west of the Mississippi, outnumbered Spanish troops under Governor Fernando de Layba, along with colonial militia and slaves, succeeded in defending the city.
By the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, St. Louis had grown to more than 1,100 people and had become a bustling river landing. When President Thomas Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead the expedition that would explore the territory, St. Louis was the jumping-off point. When the explorers returned to St. Louis on September 23, 1806, they had completed a journey of 7,689 miles. Clearly, St. Louis was the link connecting the eastern and western halves of the country.
Moreover, Lewis and Clark’s extensive observations and descriptions of the animals they had seen, in particular the vast numbers of beaver and muskrat, spurred the flow of trappers to the region. As a result, St. Louis became the most important stop for traders and trappers alike.
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