Fadi BouKaram is a Lebanese photographer who’s taken time off work to embark on all-American road trip in search for Lebanon, yes Lebanon, but not just the Lebanon, he’ll be looking for all 40 of them.
Several towns across the United States hold our little nation’s name. Fadi made the discovery by chance when he was searching for our Lebanon on Google Maps.
“One time when I was living in San Francisco, I was looking for Lebanon -my country- online when I found a link to Lebanon, Pennsylvania. This caught me by surprise a little bit, like why would there be a Lebanon in Pennsylvania? Another search lead me to Lebanon, Oregon, and more searches got me to find that there are over 40 of these Lebanons in the United States. I didn’t know the link, or why they had chosen the name …. But eventually found out it was because they picked names out of the Bible,” he says.
Fadi is right. Many of the United States’ first settlers were devout Christians who had an affinity towards naming their towns after their favorite places mentioned in the Bible. This is why many towns were named Biblical toponyms that include Antioch, Bethlehem, Damascus, Galilee, Hebron, Jordan, and Sinai. The name Lebanon is no exception, as it is mentioned over 70 times in the Bible particularly in relation to its famous cedars -the reason why many of its namesakes are located next to cedar forests.
On Nov. 13, 1801, the town of Lebanon was authorized. The appointed commissioners chose the land around a gushing spring where in 1800, Neddy Jacobs had built his log cabin. Seeing the spot in a grove of red cedars, commissioner Christopher Cooper said, “This is the place.” The cedars gave the place its name, Lebanon, a reminder of the Biblical land of the cedars. On Nov. 23, 1819, the City of Lebanon was officially incorporated. -History of Wilson County Tennessee, its Land and its Life – Dixon Merrit
In 1955 Lebanon’s then President Camille Chammoun invited seven mayors from seven little American Lebanons over to Beirut. The story goes that Zalfa Chamoun, the first lady of the time, presented the men with medallions and cedar saplings (Cedrus Libani), which they took back home to plant. Fadi will be visiting those towns to see if the trees still stand.
Born and raised in Beirut, Fadi holds an engineering degree from the Lebanese University in Roumieh and San Francisco State University. He’s officially in finance, but it seems, his heart is more in photography.
For more information on Fadi’s trip, follow him on facebook, twitter, instagram and via his blog. There aren’t many photos online of all the Lebanons out there, which makes this journey all the more worthwhile.