About Lebanon Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 1,265 ft (386 m). Population 14,474 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Lebanon is the seat of Laclede County, in south central Missouri. (Map of Lebanon).
Munger Moss Motel's classic neon sign
History of Lebanon
South-central Missouri has been inhabited for some 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age. Around 700 BC the native Osage people were expelled from their land in the Ohio and Mississippi rivers by the Iroquois and settled here they established a village called Wyota (which meant "ever flowing spring").
In 1682 French explorers from Canada claimed the area naming it "Louisiana" after their king Louis XIV. In 1803, the French sold it to the U.S., it became the Missouri Territory in 1812 and a state in 1821.
During that period, white settlers began moving westwards and native living east of the Mississippi as well as the Ossage were forced to relinquish their territories to the government and were finally relocated in reservations in what is now Oklahoma.
Jesse Ballew was the first settler, in 1820 he built his home on the Gasconade River. The land was surveyed during the 1840s and in 1849, the Harrison and Appling families donated 50 acres of land towards the establishment of the county seat for the newly created Laclede County. It was originally named Wyota.
By 1851 courthouse and jail were already built and the post office opened in 1853. The new town saw the telegraph line built through it during the Civil War and was occupied by Union troops and the "Wire Road" was built next to the telegraph line from St. Louis MO to Fort Smith, Arkansas
The name: Lebanon
In the 1850s it adopted the name Lebanon, after the hometown of one of the town's outstanding citizens, Rev. Benjamin Hooke, Lebanon Tennessee. Which in turn got its name from the abundance of Eastern Red Cedar trees in the area (Lebanon, the country, is renowned for its cedars).
The Frisco railway reached the town in 1868 but built the station one mile away from the downtown, south of it. This led to a shift in business from the "Old" to the "New" town. The town became a city in 1877.
In 1889 a worker digging a water will noticed that his tools attracted nails. They had been magnetized by the water. This led to the creation of a spa. The magnetic water was said to be good for the health, it was used in baths and bottled for drinking.
The Gasconade Hotel which could house 500 guests was built to cope with the inflow of travellers. It burned down 10 years later.
The "Wire Road" became the main road from St. Louis to Sprignfield and would become State Hwy. 16 in the early 1920s and U.S. 66 in 1926. Route 66 passed through the town until 1957, when it became a four-lane freeway bypassing it.
Where to Lodge in Lebanon, Missouri
Accommodation in town, hotels in Lebanon...
> > Book your hotel in Lebanon
More Lodging near Lebanon along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Lebanon
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 146 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
>> Check out the RV campground in Lebanon
Weather in Lebanon
Lebanon has well defined seasons: The summer (Jul) average high is 88°F (31.2°C) and the average low is 67°F (19.2°C). The winter (Jan) average high is 42°F (5.6°C) with a below freezing average low of 21°F (-6°C).
Rainfall averages 45.3 in (1151 mm) yeary fairly stable across the year (ranging from 2 in monthly, -50 mm in Jan and Feb, to 5,67 in. in May. -144 mm). Snowfall is around 9 in. (23 cm), and falls between Dec. and Mar.
Lebanon is located in the "Tornado Alley" and Laclede County is hit by some 8 tornado strikes every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Lebanon
You can reach Lebanon along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44 that links it with Springfield, Tulsa and Oklahoma City in the west and with Cuba and St. Louis in the east. US 160, 60 and 65 run to the west, through Springfield, US 63 runs through Rolla, to the east.
Map of Route 66 through Lebanon Missouri
Display Lebanon Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Lebanon:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)
Pale Blue: The 1926 to 1957 alignment of Route 66, The alignments after 1957 became part of what is now I-44.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Lebanon
Route 66 across Missouri
Historic U.S. highway 66, "Route 66" has been designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in the state of Missouri.
Click on the following link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Missouri.
Route 66 Sights in Lebanon
Landmarks and Places to See
"Aluminum Fishing Boat Capital of the World"
Lebanon and its Route 66 attractions
Governor Kit Bond named Lebanon "Aluminum Fishing Boat Capital of the World" back in 1983 because of the large number of boata and canoe manufacturers in town.
Lebanon has a wide variety of Route 66 landmarks and attractions:
Gas stations: Mobil Service Station, Old Phillips 66 Service Station, Colt Gas and Groceries.
Motels: Four Acre Court, Munger Moss Motel, Forest Manor Motel and Campground, Lenz HoMoTel, Red Fox Motel, White Sands Motel, Shepherd Hills Motel.
Stores and Americana: Wrink's Food Market, Mr. Swiss, Route 66 Museum, Cafe Sign and Satellite Lanes bowling alley.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Lebanon
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse published his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" in 1946 and he mentioned the town as follows: "Lebanon... garages; hotels: Harris, Laclede, Nelson; courts: Camp Joy, Nelson Dream Village, Clark's Rock Court, Green Gables; all facilities.) US 66 skirts the eastern edge of the town, which is the major community on US 66 between Rolla and Springfield.". He added the attractions of this area, known as the "Ozarks Playground", with "More than 100 varieties of trees... rolling hills... swift streams".
East of Lebanon he mentioned the following places (distance in miles): "Vesta Court; gas" (4 mi), "Gas and Cabins" (8 mi), "gas" (9 mi), "Lucy's Cabins" (12 mi.) and "Cabins and gas" (13 mi). None of them have survived.
Tour the route 66 landmarks in Lebanon
Begin your tour at the town's easternmost access: I-44's Exit 135, it his here that the freeway cuts across old Route 66, which here passes fromt he eastern side to the western side of the interstate, becoming Pecos Drive.
Old Route 66 Cafe Sign, by Visit Lebanon www.LebanonMO.ogr
Click on image to enlarge
24200 Rte 66, Lebanon
To your left (View). Once famous for its signs marking the mileage to different cities around the globe (Helsinki, Rio de Janeiro). It closed after the death of its owner and now is a soda plant (Route 66 sodas).
Route 66 Classic Sign
24001 Old Route 66 Location map.
To your right just past the I-44 Speedway, which is located not on the freeway, but on Route 66 is this rusting yellow sign with the words "Cafe - Fried Chicken - Home Made Pie", where did it come from is a mystery.
Four Acre Court
23442 Old Route 66 (Pecos Dr.)
To your right; this is a classic stone building with sandstone cabins behind it. Coleman and Waters opened it in 1949, 4.5 mi. east of Lebanon. Later it was known as "Village Oaks" and it stands relatively untouched as you can see in the images below:
The old Four Acre Court in a then and now comparison:
Street view of former Four Acre Court (motel)
Munger Moss Motel
1336 East Rte 66
Old Munger-Moss Sandwich Shop opened to the north, in Devil's Elbow Missouri and was owned by the Nellie Munger and her husband Emmit Moss. When U.S. 66 was realigned in 1942 due to the heavy flow of military traffic at Ft. Leonard, they sold out to Jessie and Pete Hudson in 1945 who in turn moved to Lebanon where they opened a filling station and restaurant in 1945 and added the motel in 1946 which is still open, mungermoss.com
Munger Moss Neon Sign
Route 66 Classic Sign
The neon sign (pictured here at the top of this page, and also below) is an eye catcher and was restored with a grant from the The Neon Heritage Preservation Committee, The Route 66 Association of Missouri and The National Park Service helped in 2010.
US 66 shield on road and Munger Moss motel Neon Sign, click on image for Street View
Across Route 66, right in front of Munger Moss, to your right is this classic bowling alley, take a peek at their neon sign: (View of neon sign) a must see.
Route 66 Shields on the tarmac
Don't miss the two Route 66 shields painted on the highway right there between Munger Moss and Satellite Lanes (See photo).
Ahead, to your right is another classic motel:
Forest Manor Motel and Campground
1307 Rte 66.
To your right, this tourist camp began as "Green Gables Court" in 1941, owned by Elsie and Lee Kimes. It had individual cabins with car ports between them. Later it became Forest Manor which is still open and operating as a motel and RV Park: Forest Manor Motel & RV Park
The postcard below announced: "Reasonable Rates... T.V., air conditioning, Restaurant, Coin Laundry... clean, pleasant campground. Jim & Aria Pape Owners".
Forest Manor now and then, the pool has gone and the sign has changed and lost part of its classic charm...
Street view of Forest Manor Motel and Campground
Keep westbound, and just ahead, to your right is Wrink's Food Market:
Wrink’s Food Market. Click for Street View
Wrink's Food Market
135 Wrinkle Ave. and Route 66 Lebanon
The building was built between 1946 and 1950 by G.E. Wrinkle, a local entrepreneur who owned the Jefferson Hotel and Cafe. He planned to open a hotel there but after falling ill and only completing the first story, his son Glenn used it for his store "Wrink's Market". After his passing in 2007, G.E.'s grandson, Terry runs the place.
At Milcreek Rd., take a right and head into town.
Mobil Service Station
801 Rte. 66, Location map.
To your right, is the old ice-box style service station ca. 1930s with a two-bay garage at one end and the office at the other is amazing. The Ghost Pegassus where Mobil's logo, they flying horse once stood is clearly visible above the door:
Street view of The Old Mobil Gas Station, notice the "ghost" image of the flying horse in the central part of the parapet
Keep west along Route 66, and at the NW corner of Sherman Ave. is the former Lenz HoMoTel:
302 Sherman Ave.
William Otto Lenz and his wife opened it in 1932, after reconverting their 14-room home into a home - hotel (hence its name), offering the comforts of home in a hotel. Now a private residence. See its street view, notice the old columns at the entrance, at one time they sported signs "LENZ - HOMOTEL".
You are now approaching the downtown district. To your right is a classic Service Station:
Orchard Hills -former Phillips 66 Service Station
NW corner of E Elm St. (Route 66) and Washington Ave.
Built in 1935 in the classic "cottage style", favored in those days because the gas stations blended in with their surrounding residential area (see two other route 66 cottage style examples -but these had the chimney in the front: Chandler OK and McLean TX. It sold Phillips 66 brand, and was owned by O.E. Carter and E. Lawson, closing in 1971. Now it is the Orchard Hills Package Store. The place is almost the same.
Cottage style Phillips 66 gas station
Street view of old Phillips 66 Service Station, now Orchard Hills
Keep west one block and take a right along Adams Ave. and head for the historic Jail
Historic Old Jail
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
On the NE corner of N. Adams Ave. and E 3rd St.
Street view, it was built in 1876 and is probably the oldest building in town. It housed inmates until 1955, which were relocated in the current jail, behind it. Now it is a museum.
Go along E 3rd St. one block south to Jefferson and take a right to visit an icon from the 1960s Swiss Inn:
Former Mr. Swiss Hamburger Drive-in, Google
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View
Mr. Swiss - now Swiss Inn
356 N Jefferson Ave.
This A-frame building which is now known as Swiss Inn, opened in 1967 as part of the "Mr. Swiss" hamburger drive-in owned by L. Doefler who started it in 1964 in Oklahoma City, OK selling hamburgers, ice cream and sandwiches. It eventually had 200 stores across the US, and closed 1970s. There is another one on US 66 in Joplin MO and also in Claremore OK. The "V" shaped sign post is the original one.
Head back eastwards towards US 66, cross it and visit the Route 66 Museum:
Route 66 Museum
915 S. Jefferson Ave. Lebanon
Photos, memorabilia and full scale models that re-create a 1940s tourist cabin, a gas station from the 1930s and a 1950s diner. Located in the County Library (Street View).
Colt Gas and Groceries
398 W Elm St NW Corner
This was a steep gabled cottage-style gas station. It used to have a flat roofed canopy over two pumps facing Route 66. Now it is an auto dealership. See Street View.
The road heads out of the downtown area, and curves south. Just past Fowler Rd., to your right is former Red Fox Motel:
Red Fox Motel
431 W Elm St. Lebanon
This motel was originally the Red Fox Motel -now closed. It had 12 units. Later it became the Clover Leaf, whose postcard announced: "1⁄2 mile west of the city on Highway Route 66 Twelve fully modern units, equipped with fine Mengel furniture and Englander Super Hotel Mattresses Automatic panel ray heat with thermostat control Ceramic tiled showers Air cooled, fully insulated Reasonable...".
Keep west, and passing Durham Rd., on your left is the former White Sands Motel:
White Sands Motel
1710 W Elm St, Lebanon
Still open, but now it is the Historic Route 66 Inn, its postcard from the 1960s said: "31 Rooms, Air Conditioned, Free TV, Wall to Wall Carpets, Panel Ray Heat, Tub and Shower... Lilards, Owners and Managers".
The front court which was open and had a lawn, now has a barbecue restaurant (Dowd's Catfish and BBQ). But the motel is quite unchanged (the old sign has of course been replaced by a more "modern" and duller one).
A "then" and "now" view of the old White Sands Motel
Street view of the former White Sands Motel, today Historic Route 66 Motel
Shepherd Hills Motel and Restaurant
1830 West Elm Street, Lebanon
This motel is still open, now as the Americas Best Value Inn. The postcard below stated "Interstate 44 City Rt 66 West Color TV and AM-FM radios telephones in every room heated swimming pool children's playground family rates restaurant seats 250 two dining rooms banquet rooma and coffee shop beauty shop barber shop and gift shop".
Of the old "U" shaped motel only the eastern and northern "L" remains. The former large space in the middle is now Headley's Value Tire Center and Eagle Stop. The red circle in the postcard shows the area which is pictured in the "now" version below:
A "now" and "then" view of the Shepherd Hills Motel, today Americas Best Value Inn.
Former Shepherd Hills Motel , today the Americas Best Value Inn, Lebanon, booking.com
Click for Street View
And this completes the city tour of Route 66 in Lebanon when the road reaches I-44 at Exit 127.
Outdoors, National and State Parks
Bennett Spring State Park
11 mi. west of town via Highway 64, Map with directions.
Created in 1923, it receives one million visitors yearly, and has hiking trails, the Savanna Ridge and the Natural Tunnel. Read more at their official website.
Old Route 66 in Lebanon
From Lebanon to Springfield
The original trail along the divide in the Ozarks was probably created by roaming buffalo. Later the natives used it and after them the trappers and explorers, who named it the "Great Osage Trail" (after the Osage natives). During the Civil war period, a telegraph line was laid from St. Louis Missouri to Fort Smith in Arkansas and between Lebanon and Phillipsburg it overlaps old Route 66.
By the early 1900s the use of cars increased and expanded to the countryside. The dirt tracks used by carts were unsuitable for automobiles, as they became muddy traps after it rained. There was a public demand for better roads, and John Woodruff lobbied for them with the Inter-Ozarks Highway Association he presided. Missouri State Highway 14 was built through Lebanon, and improved. Later, in 1926 Route 66 would be aligned along it and it passed through Lebanon.
Old Route 66: 1926-1957 Alignment in Lebanon
The original alignment is shown in the Map above in Pale Blue, to the south it followed a winding course to Springfield.
At one time two arches spanned Route 66 with the words "LEBANON - Drive In - Our Town Your Town" at both the western and eastern ends of town
It was realigned between Strafford and Springfield in 1928 (described here: Old Route 66 in Strafford).
Alignment after 1952
In 1952 the Missouri Highway Department started work to improve Route 66 to make it safer and shorter, it bypassed Strafford. It built a completely new road to that cut across the old alignment in two places, one in Phillipsburg and another in Red Top.
Route 66 Superhighway
The first contract awarded in the whole of the U.S. under the Interstate Highway Act was granted on Aug. 2, 1956, in Laclade County, and it covered a short 4.6 mile-long segment which opened one year later, bypassing Lebanon with a modern 4-lane highway.
The whole of US 66 in this area was upgraded into a four lane highway with overpasses, and after 1958 it coexisted with the new interstate I-44 until it was finally decertified around 1979.
Detail of a 1957 Missouri DOT Map.
The map above shows Route 66 between Lebanon and Springfield in 1957. I-44 had not yet been built and US 66 was a divided highway that almost reached Strafford. The older alignment of Route 66 had been redsignated as MO-CC between Phillipsburg and Marshfield, and to the north, it is State Highway W into Lebanon.
> > See the previous segment Hazelgreen to Lebanon (east)
> > See the next segment Springfield to Halltown (west)
Maura Johnson and John F. Bradbury, Route 66 Association of Missouri. 1993, Architectural ⁄ Historical Inventory Survey. Route 66 in Missouri
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.