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Welcome to Lebanon, U.S.A.

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The Tennessee city of Lebanon, like almost all other towns wearing that moniker, derives its name from the biblical Cedars of Lebanon. However, the three Lebanons of Oregon, Missouri and Texas were named after Lebanon, Tenn.

And did you know there are two other places in Tennessee named Lebanon? Those tiny communities snuggle in Hardin County and Bradley County.

Lebanon's City Hall claims for its home the historic former main building of Castle Heights Military Academy (1902-1986). The City of Lebanon Museum and History Center is located in the building's basement.

You may know that the Wilson County seat was founded in 1801 and has been the home of Castle Heights Military Academy, headquarters of Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores and where Sam Houston (later the president of Texas) practiced law. But how about some details on some of those other Lebanons?

For example, the geographic center of the U.S. (the contiguous 48 states) lies about 2 miles northwest of Lebanon, Kansas, and a monument has been erected at the site.

Read on and discover some fun facts about the next nine largest cities of Lebanon.

No. 2: Lebanon, Pennsylvania (population 25,477): Founded in 1740, this Lebanon is also the county seat of Lebanon County. Home of Weavers Famous Lebanon Bologna, the town celebrates New Years Eve by dropping a 12-foot-long, 200-pound hunk of Lebanon Bologna. Lebanon has been recognized as the second least stressful city in the United States. The towns Union Canal Tunnel is the oldest existing transportation tunnel in the United States and was originally 729 feet long when it opened in 1827. This is also the birthplace of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Kerry Collins.

The annual Lebanon Strawberry Festival in Oregon features, at 5,700 pounds, the world's largest strawberry shortcake, which feeds more than 15,000. This photo from last year shows the cake being served by the Dairy Ladies.

No. 3: Lebanon, Ohio (20,033): Laid out in 1802, the town is part of the Cincinnati Metropolitan area. Lebanon boasts its own symphony orchestra, the Lebanon Grand Opry House (a country music venue) and the Golden Lamb Inn, Ohios oldest inn, which has been host to 12 presidents. Lebanon Raceway has been the site of live harness racing for decades, and the towns Countryside YMCA is one of the largest YMCAs in America. It also has been the home of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, for years.

No. 4: Lebanon, Indiana (15,792): Established in 1830, this Lebanon received its name because a cluster of hickory trees reminded one of the first commissioners of the Cedars of Lebanon from the Bible. The county courthouse, built in 1911, is noted for the large columns on the north and south entrances, which are believed to be the largest monolithic limestone columns in the world.

Top 20 towns named Lebanon

1: Tennessee: 26,190 (2010 census)

2: Pennsylvania: 25,477

3: Ohio: 20,033

4: Indiana: 15,792

5: Oregon: 15,518

6: Missouri: 14,474

7: New Hampshire: 13,151

8: Connecticut: 7,358 9: Kentucky: 6,331

10: Maine: 5,997

11: Illinois; 5,523

12: Virginia: 3,148

13: Wisconsin: Waupaca County: 1,751

14: Wisconsin: Dodge County, 1,659

15: New Jersey: 1,358

16: New York: 1,343 17: Oklahoma: 398

18: Kansas: 218

19: Nebraska: 126

20: South Dakota: 47

No. 5: Lebanon, Oregon (15,518): With its motto Its easier from here, this city boasts the worlds largest strawberry shortcake at 5,700 pounds at last year's 102nd annual Lebanon Strawberry Festival. In 1992 it became home to the first Walmart in the state. Thirteen years later, the towns drive-in movie theater, one of the last in the state, was bulldozed so a Super Walmart could go up. The town was named by settler Jeremiah Ralston in honor of his birthplace, Lebanon, Tenn.

6: Lebanon, Missouri (14,474): Named after Lebanon, Tenn., the hometown of a respected minister, the town became famous in the late 1800s for its magnetic water after a worker found his tools, which had soaked in the water, could pick up nails (the high school yearbook is named The Magnet). The town, which is located on Route 66, has hosted seven Babe Ruth World Series and is also known as the Aluminum Fishing Boat Capital of the World. This Lebanon also holds the Albert E. Brumley Gospel Sing and presents a Hillbilly Days festival every June.

7: Lebanon, New Hampshire (13,151): Chartered in 1761, the town, once famed for its many mills, sits on the Connecticut River. Named after Lebanon, Conn., it boasts the Lebanon Opera House and is home to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and many high tech companies. Last June the governor of the state proclaimed although Lebanon is the smallest city in the State of New Hampshire, it hasbeen repeatedly recognized as the finest small city to live in.

8: Lebanon, Connecticut (7,358): Chartered in 1700, this Lebanon was named after the stands of white cedar in Cedar Swamp which reminded the Rev. James Fitch of the biblical cedars of Lebanon. The farming town served as a major base of American operations during the Revolutionary War. Its historic town green, one of the largest in the U.S, is the only one still used partially for agriculture and is circled by a 1.6 mile stone dust walking path.

9. Lebanon, Kentucky (6,331): Established in 1814 and named for its abundant cedar trees, this Lebanon is famed for its Ham Days Festival and Tractor Show. During the Civil War, Confederate General John Hunt Morgans Raiders attacked union troops here. Morgan used the mansion at Myrtledene for his headquarters and was reported to have ridden his horse in the house and up the stairs, which serves as the basis for the annual outdoor drama/musical Hoofprints on the Stairs. The town hosts an annual Heartbeat of Kentucky Bourbon & BBQ MusicFest in the spring.

10: Lebanon, Maine (5,997): Incorporated in 1767, the town is the site of Skydive New England, New Englands sole skydiver resort. Lebanon includes the villages of Center Lebanon, West Lebanon, North Lebanon, South Lebanon and East Lebanon. It was originally named Towwoh by the Newichawannock Abenaki tribe. Situated on the Salmon River, the town once had four sawmills, three gristmills, a shingle mill, a wool carding mill and a tannery.

Aside from the 20 most populated Lebanons, there are also places named Lebanon in Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, South Carolina and Texas.

As for other towns with Lebanon as part of their names, that list includes Mt. Lebanon, Penn. (population 33,137; a suburb of Pittsburgh); Lebanon Junction, Ky. (1,813); New Lebanon, Ohio (3,995); South Lebanon, Ohio (3,730); New Lebanon, N.Y. (2,356); West Lebanon, Ohio (100); West Lebanon, Ind. (723); Mount Lebanon, La. (83); Mount Lebanon, Md.; New Lebanon, Ind.; and New Lebanon, Pa.

No matter which Lebanon you live in, it's still home sweet home.

by Ken Beck
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