Here in Missouri's central Ozarks, Pulaski County was organized in 1833, and named for the Revolutionary War general, Polish Count Casimir Pulaski. Once roamed by Indians and French trappers, the county is part of land ceded by the Osage in 1808. Southern pioneers were early settlers, attracted by fine springs, wooded hills honeycombed by caves, and Big Piney and Gasconade rivers.
Waynesville, in scenic Roubidoux Creek Valley, became the county seat in 1843, but court first met here, 1835. Named for Revoultionary War General Mad Anthony Wayne, the town was a stage stop on St. Louis to Springfield Road, also called Wire Road for the telegraph line strung by Union Army. French explorer Du Tisne traveled this former Indian trail in 1719. Cherokee Indians camped here on their 1837 Trail of Tears removal to Oklahoma.
In the Civil War, the Confederate flag was raised at the courthouse in the spring of 1861. In June, 1862, Union Colonel Albert Sigel's troops built fort overlooking Waynesville's courthouse square to guard the military supply road to Springfield. The county suffered guerrilla raids and skirmishes.
In Pulaski County's Mark Twain National Forest acreage, established in 1935, is Fort Leonard Wood. Founded in 1940 as a World War II training and replacement center, it became a permanent military reservation in 1958. Named for Major General Leonard Wood, the Fort, by 1960, was the nation's largest center for training U.S. Army Engineers.
The county, after the Civil War, grew as a lumbering and general farming area. On route of the Frisco Rail Road, built through the county 1869, the towns of Dixon, Crocker, and Richland were laid out and Swedeborg was founded by Swedish immigrants, 1878. Among other communities are Big Piney, Devil's Elbow, Laquey, Palace, St. Robert.
Points of interest include views of the Gasconade at Portugese Point and the Big Piney at Devil's Elbow; Miller Spring, one of 23 ebb and flow springs in the U.S., near Big Piney; Schlicht Mill near Crocker; Indian and Inca caves near Waynesville; Moccasin Bend Wildlife Refuge on Gasconade River; and, at Waynesville, Pulaski County's 4th courthouse built in 1904. Many prehistoric artifacts have been found in the county.