Welcome to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. While the Army has dubbed it as ‘The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence,” the locals here affectionately nicknamed the area “Fort Lost in the Woods.” Located in the heart of I-44 between St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri, what this small town lacks in attractions, it makes up for in charm and history. So, if you’re visiting the area for a military graduation or calling the place home for the next two to three years, here is everything you need to know about Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Fort Leonard Wood is a fairly–young military base. The post was created in December of 1940 as a training post during World War II. Today, it is home to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, the MP Regiment, CBRN, and Army engineers. Fort Leonard Wood also trains more than 82,000+ soldiers and civilians a year. For a small town, the Fort and surrounding cities have many historic landmarks to see.
Starting on post, if you are a history buff, then you will thoroughly enjoy visiting the on–post military museum with authentic war artifacts. This unique complex is an immersive experience open during the week, free of charge, and open to the public. It has three regimental museums: The U.S Army Military Police Corps Regimental Museum, U.S Army Engineer Museum and the U.S Army Chemical Corps Museum. For a full experience, try visiting all three and maybe pick up a gift from the shop to commemorate your visit. Right outside of the museum, you can find an authentic block of the Berlin Wall.
Another unique on–post experience is Memorial Grove. Take a stroll along the beautifully designed scenic path that pays homage to soldiers past and present. All three corps and regiments are represented with bronze statues, honorary bricks, plaques and benches to take it all in.
Adjacent to the Memorial Grove, visitors can also take in history at the World War II Complex. Here, you can get a glimpse into what soldiers lived like before and after WWII, and take a brief, self-guided tour of nostalgic Fort Leonard Wood buildings from its humble beginnings.
For those wanting to explore the surrounding community, Fort Leonard Wood borders the three neighboring cities of St. Robert, Waynesville and Plato. The St. Robert and Waynesville areas directly run the historic path of old route 66. In St. Robert, visitors can grab a meal at the Route 66 Diner or a quick stop to the road side attraction called Uranus. Here, you can make a quick stop for a fudge factory, restaurants and novelty museums.
Just off post near Walmart, you’ll find a tribute to the local military community made of rocks painted by different regiments and built up into a stunning piece of art. Visitors from far and wide come to photograph the iconic display of Fort Leonard Wood’s strong military history.
In Waynesville, you’ll discover more nods to the historic route 66 with a stunningly painted mural in downtown Waynesville. Plus, themed dining options, shops, and museums. Tucked away close-by at Roubidoux Springs, scuba enthusiasts can take a dive adventure in Laughlin Park. It is open year-round.
The Fort Leonard Wood area is nothing short of a history buff’s dream. Each place from on–post to the surrounding cities offers something to do for every member of your military family. Whether you are looking to plan a getaway or are visiting Missouri, make sure to add this military community to your bucket list.