The county of Laclede was formed in 1849, carved out of parts of three other counties. As was true throughout most of Missouri, the Civil War was a turbulent time in Lebanon. The town was occupied by Union troops for all but six months of the war.
The men were there to guard the famed "Wire Road," a telegraph line between St Louis and Springfield. Sentiment, however was strongly on the side of the Confederates, as most of the people who lived here had come from the South. Abraham Lincoln received just one vote for president here in 1860.
In 1869 the railroad arrived, changing the look of Lebanon forever. The town's depot was built a mile away from the village on the hill and many residents and businesses moved to be closer to the rail line.
From the 1920s to the 1960s, automobiles headed east and west along the fabled Route 66 - and one of the major stops was Lebanon. Today, in a new century, Route 66 aficionados from all over come to Lebanon looking for any remaining traces of what may be the most beloved highway in the world.
Lebanon is surrounded by rich farmland that has been under cultivation since the earliest days of settlement in the 1830s and '40s. Agriculture is a foundation of the economy of the region and a major source of livelihood in Laclede County. The principal livestock are beef and dairy cattle and hogs. Forestry is also an important part of the economy. More than half of the county is forested; most of this land is in production.
Lebanon's location makes it the perfect place from which to tour the entire region and its many attractions. North are Lake of the Ozarks (less than an hour away) offering cruises, golf, music shows, an outlet mall and much more.
The Cowan Civic Center offers a superior 126,000 square foot building features a heated, indoor NCAA size swimming pool; gymnasium; multipurpose room; wellness center; theatre; meeting rooms and a 44,000 square foot exhibition hall that has been used for trade shows, home shows and expos, rodeos and concerts. Lebanon features five major shopping areas, including historic downtown and Factory Stores of America-VF Factory Outlet Center.
Lebanon is surrounded by state and national forests, making it a perfect place for hunting. Deer, turkey, duck, quail, geese, squirrels and rabbits are all hunted in the area.
Lebanon is a great place to play! The city's parks feature ball fields, playgrounds, walking trails, tennis courts, a swimming pool, picnic areas and more. Lebanon is home to two public golf courses and one semi private golf club.
Lebanon has always been a place that appreciates the finer things in life - and the arts are certainly in that category. These arts organizations have an active following from residents and visitors alike.
Bennett Spring State Park is a 3,095-acre park that attracts over 1 million people each year. In what has become a near-annual honor, Bennett Spring State Park has earned several Best of Missouri awards in the Rural Missouri magazine 2004 Best of Rural Missouri readers' survey. Tourists from all over the country come to the park annually to enjoy the abundantly stocked trout, which are fed and cared for at the park hatchery and released into the spring. In addition to trout fishing, visitors can also enjoy camping, picnicking, hiking, lodging, dining, canoeing and nature study.
The Midwest's top drivers race around a new track under new management at Lebanon I-44 Speedway. Action on the 3/8-mile, high bank clay oval begins on the first Saturday in April and continues every Saturday into September. Racing divisions include late models, modifieds, factory stocks and bombers.
Located on MO Hwy 5 at the junction with I-44, Barrels of Fun is a must-stop! There are so many things to do here! Tour the largest barrel factory in the world! Independent Stave Company produces more than half of all the barrels made in the world.
Springfield, just an hour west of Lebanon, offers the new Wonders of Wildlife Museum, next door to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Other Springfield area attractions include Fantastic Caverns and Wilson's Creek National Battlefield - the site of one of the first major battles of the Civil War.
East is Fort Leonard Wood - a fascinating place to visit - just 40 miles on I-44! More than 25,000 soldiers are trained here annually. One of the largest army bases in the country, it is the home of the engineer, chemical defense and military police schools and an on-base museum interprets all 3 specialties. There's also a World War II Commemorative Community, featuring 13 buildings restored to the period.