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 carΒ 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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169 thoughts on “Welcome to Lebanon, USA

  1. Look forward to hearing from you soon… If you are planning on passing through Virginia, the Freemasons temple has a Lebanon room. You might want to add it to your list.

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  2. I will definitely be following you throughout your journey! This is extremely interesting. Make them love the real Lebanon as much as we do. Best of luck and enjoy!!

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  3. One more thing you might have missed is that Lebanon,KS 66952 is the geographic center of the 48 states of USA.
    There are streets named Lebanon as well.
    Wish you a very nice trip.

    The more you go east, the colder it’s gonna get. Be ready πŸ™‚
    Good luck

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    • Leb, Kansas is gonna be interesting. Looking forward to photographing the wooden sign that says “Welcome to Lebanon, center of the United States” πŸ˜€
      (Yes, trying to make it east as fast as possible before it gets too snowy.

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  4. Good luck Fadi in your exciting trip . Let me know when will you be visiting Lebanon Tennessee, because I go there occasionally and might be able to meet you . We truly need another Camille Chamoun to lead our country to the prosperity that Lebanon experienced during his regime .

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  5. Aloha Fadi, I saw your posting online and you moved me. If you ever wanted to visit the Hawaiian Islands look me up, I am a Lebanese from Dekwaneh my brother and his 4 boys and families would like you to visit, and would love to host you for few days in Honolulu and weekend on Maui island let me know , Lol.. bring your camera alot here to see and do., I admire and appreciate your enthusiastic demeanor and your love to Lebanon . You wont find cedar here but a Lebanese American family and their friends.
    Mahalo.
    Raymond.

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    • Thank you so much, Raymond! Much appreciated. I grew up in Sabtieh, only a couple minutes away from Dekwaneh πŸ™‚
      If I ever make it to Hawaii, I will definitely contact you.

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  6. Very cool! It sounds like such an exciting trip. I live in Lebanon, Ohio and would love to show you around if you would like. Your telling of the mayors going there and bringing home the gifts of the cedars is cool. We have many cedar trees in the Warren County area. We also have a nursing home called Cedars of Lebanon. Now I know where the name comes from. I’ll try to folliw your trip. I have been through Lebanon, IN and Lebanon, TN before but that is all. I thoughtthere were only 7. LoL. Let me know if you would like a guide or would like to try to meet our mayor Amy. She is pretty accessible.

    Beccah

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    • Thank you, Beccah! Would love to meet when I get to to Leb, Ohio. And if there’s a possibility to meet the mayor, that’d be terrific! I will email you before I get close to the area.

      Regarding the cedar trees, there’s a lot of varieties there; many of the US Eastern cedars are really Virginia Junipers (the tall ones called ‘red cedars’). The Cedar of Lebanon (cedrus libani) is a ‘weeping’ one, that spreads more horizontally than vertically. It’ll be great trying to find the one that was brought there.

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  7. Good Luck and keep safe! Looking forward to your updates.

    P.S: please write yourself ur upcoming posts, it’s the 1st time I don’t skip the text for the video πŸ™‚

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  8. I was happy reading about you and watching your video.You are doing a big effort to gather all these informations in a documentary that will be interinsting to watch in the future.
    I was in illionis few years ago and I was surprised when I saw lebanon signboard that I posted on my facebook.

    Good luck we will be following you.

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  9. Pingback: Lebanese Photographer Fadi BouKaram is Visiting All of America’s Lebanons | Blog Baladi

  10. We are proud of people like u who desire and appreciate our lovely country Lebanon. we are looking forward for ur pictures and posts. wish u all the best luck and happiness in every Lebanon u visit. there’s one Lebanon in Maine too.

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    • Thank you for the link. Yes, Leb, TN is a big one for me on the trip. Not only did its mayor visit Beirut in 1955, but he was of Lebanese descent too. Frank Baddour from Hammana.

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  11. I am from Canada but last week we drove past Lebanon – New Hampshire. I was curious to ssk about the name origin. The owner of a store told me they were named after Lebanon Pennsylvania. But he does not know why and he is native of the city

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    • Yes lebanon NH is very beautiful town , and next town called west lebanon, I encourage you to visit these tow towns, but I wish u visited this fall , it is amazing beautiful. But if you would like to go further towards Vermont, the scenery is awesome like heaven on earth.

      Eli

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  12. Fantastic Man , Excellent ,,, Damn i Just Imagine myself in this Journey πŸ™‚ Please keep us posted and If you could receive our Mail , it will be nice to stay in Cntact to follow this Trip

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  13. Hey Fadi!
    Good luck with your project, cant find You on instagram, Could You please debe me how ir is written. I find What You are doing is very inspiring and interesting.

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  14. That’s the most awesome thing ever!! Best of luck to you. We live in Newjersey and we do have a Lebanon here. I hope that when you visit Lebanon Nj you contact us do we can treat you with Lebsnese hospitality. Best of luck to you.

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  15. Fadi, nice trip idea. If you make it to New York, let me know.

    Cedar St in downtown Manhattan is where all the Lebanese immigrants originally coalesced, before moving to Brooklyn. Happy to show you around. Dinner and drinks on me πŸ™‚

    Cesar

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    • Thank you, Cesar! Didn’t know about Cedar street. But I did know about the area called ‘Little Syria’ where pre-wwi Syrians and Lebs were. (An author called Rabee Jaber wrote a book called “America” just about that area).
      Thank you for the offer, will let you know if I hit NYC.

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  16. Good luck on your journey and I look forward to reading more about your adventures. It would be nice to meet whenever you get to Louisiana. πŸ™‚ I am hoping to visit your country one day. Until then have a safe and fun trip.

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  17. What an awesome and fun project you are embarking on!! I have been living next to Lebanon, Kentucky for 5 years now, and every time I tell people I’m from Lebanon, they assume Lebanon, KY lol. If you come here to Kentucky I would love to connect! Best of luck on your journeys.

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  18. Great idea and project…wishing you all the luck. If you happen to pass by Las Vegas, would be happy to host you if you need a place to stay…. πŸ™‚ Safe travels!!

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  19. Fadi, good luck on your journey. It’s very exciting. You missed Lebanon, SC. It’s in the upstate. I’m not very close to there but if you make and would like to swing by the coast, would love to meet you.

    Rania K

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  20. Enjoy your adventure! Lebanon, MO is my home town and I wish I were going to be there this fall to welcome you. A couple of suggestions…Bennett Spring State Park, about 12 miles west of town has some nice hiking trails and a beautiful spring-fed stream flowing through it. A favorite local pastry is the cream horn from Wehner’s Bakery on Madison Street in downtown Lebanon. Safe travels!

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  21. When you are in the DC area, try to come visit us! You are welcome at the Karam house from Beit-Chabab!
    Good luck on your trip!

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  22. I’m so happy my sister sent me your FB link and loved your story and travel adventure. My brother-in-law Fouad, is from Lebanon and we often wondered where the US Lebanons originated. We recently moved from Southern California to Oregon where we found a Lebanon in this state. We’ll
    definitely follow you on FB and look forward to hearing more of what you discover, especially to see those
    Cedars that were given as a gift, from The One And Only Beautiful Country of Lebanon!!! Enjoy your
    adventure and safe travels πŸ™‚

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  23. Come to frisco Texas there is a street called Lebanon because there was a big settlement in the day called Lebanon so they kept the street for that. There is the frisco heritage museum that has a lot of pictures about the Lebanon settlement you can add to your blog

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  24. Hey Fadi, marvelous idea and adventure. Hope you make it into a book when it’s over. As you well know, the Lebanese are the most hospitable people on earth. If this news gets out to them, you’ll have places to eat and sleep (regardless of the RV) all along the way. Sorry we don’t have a Lebanon in Florida or we might meet. I’ll send you a complimentary copy of “Kisses from a Distance” (a memoir about the 1st wave of Lebanese immigration to US) when you are finished. Good luck & sharafoona bi Orlando. Raff Ellis

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  25. Fadi, I was moved by your inspired trek so I emailed this link to many Lebanese on my extensive mailing list–including journalists–both print, radio & TV. So, you may be getting a few more followers. I will follow your journey and post on my FB page. I am a blogger and will, if appropriate, occasionally mention your adventure. Continued good luck. Raff

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  26. Good luck and good health in your travels. Lebanon is special. I doubt you will find anything as beautiful as the real Lebanon, but your trip sounds interesting.

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