Luther M. Kennett’s Shot Tower. On Lewis Street bet. Bates and Smith. Daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly, ca. 1850. Easterly Collection 004a. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collection. Photograph by Dennis Waters, 1993. NS 17004. Photograph and scan © 1993-2006, Missouri Historical Society.
St. Louis, like many major cities in America, had its own company that produced bullets, or “shot.” Produced by dropping molten lead through a screen high at the top of the tower, gravity would transform the drop into a sphere before it splashed and instantly hardened in a pool at the base of the tower. They can often be confused for smokestacks, but they are in general much wider in circumference and feature windows. Owned by Luther Kennett, it was operational before the Civil War and closed sometime before the Twentieth Century grew long.
See my photographs of the Baltimore Shot Tower here for comparison. They apparently featured crenellations in order to emphasize their martial use.
By the early Twentieth Century, the tower was listed as being in ruins, but still extant in the Near North Riverfront. Street names have changed, but I was able to determine what is in its current location: none other than the Cotton Belt Freight Depot, which I have documented here.
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I have been reading a book on The Buffalo Hunters by Mari Sandoz. In it there was a reference to one of the hunters having 250 lbs. of St. Louis Shot. Having been born in St. Louis in 1939, and having cousins living there still, I had never heard of this company. I know there was, may be still is, a Civil War era shot tower south of St.Louis near the Mississippi River. There, the molten lead was dropped from the top through a metal screen on the exterior. This article does not go into any detail as to whether the lead was made inside of the tower or out.
I moved to the 5300 block of South Broadway in 1952. I remember walking my dog on the empty lot across the street, owned by the Scullin Estate. Overlooking the Mississippi River, I saw an unusual partial structure there. Someone told me it had been a shot tower. The property was bought by The Good Samaritan Home and was a home for aging folks. There are now condos in that spot.
I was just discussing that old shot tower a couple of weeks ago in this post (scroll down)!