Welcome to Lebanon, USA

Hello,

My name is Fadi BouKaram and I’m a Lebanese photographer. I’m taking a five-month road trip across the U.S., discovering and photographing all the country’s Lebanons. For some reason, America has so many cities and towns called Lebanon. Just look at the map. Each dot represents one.

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I found out about this by accident one time when I was googling Lebanon (my country), and I got a link to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, which got me wondering. Then I started scouring the online databases the US has of its city names, and I found over 50. But here’s the thing. Sometimes names of cities change in the US, or they lose their populations, so of the 50+ I found, there’s about 43 still standing today. For example, the two Lebanons in Texas are now ghost towns…

Now all these Lebanons aside, I found out through my research that the mayors of 7 of these towns (the starred ones on the map), were invited by president Camille Chamoun in March 1955 to come visit the real Lebanon. They did, spending two weeks in Beirut and touring the country, and then when they left, they were each given a cedar sapling (a true Cedar of Lebanon, i.e. Cedrus Libani) that they took to their towns and supposedly planted there. I want to find out if these trees still exist today.

President Camille Chamoun is given the Ohio State Flag by Lebanon, Ohio mayor, William Fraser

President Camille Chamoun is given the Ohio State Flag by Lebanon, Ohio mayor, William Fraser

 

First Lady Zalfa Chamoun gives Lebanon, Nebraska representative, Charles Harris a cedrus libani sapling. (Charles Harris was killed a few days later in no-man's-land between Jordan and Israel. Intriguing episode that I'll be exploring later on.

First Lady Zalfa Chamoun gives Lebanon, Nebraska representative, Charles Harris, a cedrus libani sapling.

So this is basically my trip. The original plan was to get a used RV/caravan from San Francisco, and start driving, living in the car to save on hotel costs and all that, and then return to San Francisco in March 2017 before returning to Beirut. However, I didn’t find any decent RV there, but I did find one in Seattle. So I drove there to get it and that’s where my trip started. I am now writing this post in Butte, Montana, and the closest Lebanon on my route is the one in North Dakota, a week’s worth of driving. So stay tuned. In the meantime, I will be sharing photos on Instagram and Facebook, so if you’re interested, please follow these pages listed above.

Last, if interested in seeing how the RV looks on the inside, or if you just didn’t want to read all of what I mentioned above and skipped to the last paragraph, well here’s a short video, introducing myself and talking about the trip.

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151 thoughts on “Welcome to Lebanon, USA

  1. The reason there are so many towns in the states named after Lebanon, our ancestral country, is because the locals named them from the bible and since Lebanon is mentioned so many times in the bible including the Songs of Songs. Therefore, you find several cities named after Lebanon. There is a Lebanon in Virginia so when you reach Virginia, I invite you to lunch with me. Good luck in your project.

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    • Thanks, Kyle! I did find that out about Leb, OR. I passed through it for a few days (Journalist Sarah Brown wrote a story about my trip in the New Era Lebanon Local paper that just came out a couple days ago).

      I didn’t mention my passing through Leb, OR, as I will pass through it again in March and it’ll be my last leg of the trip.

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    • I am from Lebanon, TN but live in NC now. You must visit the Cedars of Lebanon State Park while you are there. Perhaps they know where the tree is. I hope it’s not a juniper.

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  2. This trip sounds awesome!
    Just read article about you in The New Era Lebanon Local, a small paper in Lebanon, Oregon. I’m looking forward to following your trip on the internet.
    Please be safe while traveling and have a great time.
    God Bless.

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    • I stayed in Lebanon, OR for a few days. I didn’t write about it because I will be visiting it again in March as the last Lebanon I pass through. I loved it. Great people.

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  3. Oh My Gosh!!! what a fantastic idea. I love that you’re doing this road trip. I shall look forward to your updates, photos and learning more about what you encounter along the way. I was born a month after those mayors went to Beirut….so I’m guessing if you find any of those trees, they’re a bit older than me LOL. My dream is to buy an RV (motor-home) and travel around the UK. Yours looks totally amazing and very well fitted. Have a great trip and drive safe. Cindy

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  4. What an awesome idea for a road trip photography project! Given the current political climate, I’m interested to see what kinds of conversations your blog provokes. Whether it was intentional or not, I hope it helps to build bridges of understanding. 🙂

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  5. Just heard about your trip. Wishing you the best of luck on this adventure of a lifetime! I’m from Malta…it’s the small island in the Mediterranean, not the town in New York state or the other one in Montana 🙂

    Alessio

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    • Hey Alessio,
      Very familiar with Malta; there’s a sizable Maltese population in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it was always a pleasure talking with them about the common history and similar language expressions that exists between Lebanese and Maltese.

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  6. I found you through Discover WP……..I lived in Lebanon TN and Lebanon Virginia. I wanted to visit your home country but failed to get the funding in time for the trip. Hope to do so, it’s on my bucket list. Stay safe and enjoy.

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  7. Pingback: Welcome to Lebanon, USA — Lebanon, USA | cracboom

  8. What a marvellous idea and I’m looking forward to following your travels. I recently published a blogpost on a “Brazil” in Indiana – as far as I can tell one of only two Brazils in the USA. This made me consider doing a series on Bristols in the USA and elsewhere – the original “Bristol” (in England) being the city where I was born. Maybe one day I’ll get around to this – but I’m sure that your series on Lebanons will be much more interesting and your photographs far more appealing. Good luck with your travels….and, if you’re at all interested in Brazil, Indiana, take a look at:
    https://theworldelsewhere.com/2016/11/18/whats-in-a-name-in-the-case-of-brazil-indiana-very-little/

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  9. Sounds like fun, I have done a couple of road trips in the US too, recently came back from Boston and New England, I will check your site now, have a lool at my new england road trip posts.

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  10. Hi,Cedrus. I worked in Beirut a few years back, and also taught at the Notre Dame University Louaize. I fell in love with the Cedars of Lebanon while skiing at the Cedars. The trees impressed me with their majesty and their beauty, so I bought one and brought it to San Diego CA. I planted it 11 years ago here and now it’s over seven feet tall and it is developing its characteristic layered structure. It is my most prized tree. If you happen to drive your RV near here, you are welcome to visit it. I like your project.
    Marek

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  11. Pingback: Searching for Lebanon in the United States - Newsroom Nomad

  12. It was really great meeting you, Fadi. Thanks so much for being our Lebanon Rotary Club speaker on Thursday. Best of luck on the rest of your fantastic quest. Let know how your book progresses. If I can be of anymore help just ask. I will let you know if find anything new on our “Cedar from Lebanon.”.

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    • Mayor Ray, thank you very much for your message. I wish we were able to meet back when I passed through the city in February. But I do hope this will happen if I go on a second trip next year.

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