Laclede County is Established: February 24, 1849

Trout Fishing at Bennett Spring State Park, Missouri
Missouri State Parks

Laclede County, located in south-central Missouri, was established on this date in 1849. The county was named after Pierre Laclede, the founder of St. Louis.

Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by Native American tribes, such as the Osage, who utilized the region’s abundant natural resources. The arrival of European settlers in the early 19th century marked the beginning of significant changes. The construction of the historic “Wire Road,” also known as the Telegraph or Military Road, played a crucial role in the development of Laclede County. This road facilitated communication and transportation, linking St. Louis to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and passing through what is now the city of Lebanon, the county seat.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a spate of growth and development. The arrival of the Frisco Railroad in the 1870s boosted the economy and population growth. Lebanon, the county seat, emerged as a regional hub for trade and commerce. The discovery of natural gas in the early 20th century also contributed to industrial development, attracting businesses and increasing employment opportunities.

Throughout the 20th century, Laclede County continued to grow. The region is host to one of Missouri’s oldest state parks at Bennett Spring, where the start of trout season attracts droves of sport fishers every spring. The arrival of Route 66 in the region was significant and transformative. Established in 1926, this iconic highway ran through the county and brought a surge of economic activity and growth. The construction of Route 66 facilitated easier access to the region, attracting tourists, travelers, and businesses alike. Motels, gas stations, diners, and other roadside businesses sprang up along the route, catering to the needs of the increasing number of motorists. The city of Lebanon, the county seat, became a popular stopover for travelers, further boosting the local economy. Although the highway was eventually bypassed by the construction of Interstate 44 in the 1950s and 1960s, the legacy of Route 66 continues to influence the cultural and economic landscape of Laclede County, with many businesses and attractions still celebrating its historic significance, and many tourists still visiting each year on journeys that retrace the historic highway.