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Rural Missouri Magazine


A Place of Discovery
Historic Fort Charrette Trading Post

by Bob McEowen

Crosby Brown sits by the fire in the living quarters of his restored 18th-century trading post, Fort Charrette, located near Washington.

Nearly 200 years ago Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set forth on their historic Corps of Discovery exploration of the Missouri River. Not far into the journey they stopped at a small outpost near present-day Washington, Mo. In their diaries the explorers recalled La Charrette as the last white settlement they encountered.

Established in 1762 by French fur trader Joseph Chadron, the fortified village is long gone, abandoned in the floods of 1842-43. But a sense of La Charrette — which literally translates as "little wagon" — lives on thanks to the efforts of architectural historian Crosby Brown.

Brown, who has restored historic buildings throughout the United States, discovered the remains of the old trading post in a farm field in the late 1960s and painstakingly relocated it to a site east of Washington. Today, the restored trading post houses an impressive collection of 18th- and 19th-century artifacts and period furnishings.

Divided into three rooms, the post features a trade room, a blacksmith's shop and a recreation of frontier living quarters.

The Fort Charrette trading post is open for tours by groups and individuals only by appointment. While admission is not charged, donations are encouraged.

For more information phone Brown at (636) 239-4202.

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