Marion County, Missouri

"America's Hometown"

Hannibal is a picturesque town situated on the banks of the Mississippi River approximately 80 miles north of St. Louis off of US Highway 61. Best known as the boyhood home of the American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), who is better known as Mark Twain, the emphasis on this fact is evident throughout the town. Many attraction and businesses focus on a relationship to Twain or two of his better known novels of life along the Mississippi - Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Attractions in this genre include the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, the Becky Thatcher House, and Grant’s Drug Store where Twain once lived.

Hannibal does have a significant history besides its connection to Mark Twain and his imagination. Hannibal was founded in 1819 and chartered as a city in 1845. Early industries were pork packing, soap and candle making, coopering, milling of lumber, milling of grain, rope making, and tanning. Flat boats and packet steamers used the town’s docks to transport goods and passengers. Hannibal is also known as a railroad town. The first railroad to cross the state of Missouri was the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad. The first locomotive manufactured west of the Mississippi, a 34 ton engine called the General Grant, and the first railway mail car for sorting mail en route were made in the town’s railroad shops.

Other attractions in town include the Molly Brown Birthplace & Museum and the 30-room restored Rockcliffe Mansion, which is on the National Historic Register. Trolley, train and carriage tours as well as self-guided foot tours are offered throughout town. Nearby is the Mark Twain Cave that has served as a hideout for Native Americans, fur trappers, Jesse James and slaves following the Underground Railroad, and has been giving tours for over 100 years. Lovers Leap, a 250 foot limestone bluff is just south of Hannibal and offers a scenic view of the region. The Mark Twain Riverboat offers unique authentic riverboat rides. The excursion paddle wheelers, Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen, make regular stops at Hannibal during their warmer seasons.

There are plenty of specialty shops, antique shops and restaurants in the area. For visitors planning extended stays there are numerous Bed & Breakfasts as well as motels in the area. Campers will find plenty of private campgrounds in the area. Nearby Mark Twain Lake State Park, the largest state park in Missouri, offers camping, boating, hiking and other outdoor activities. Advance reservations are suggested after June 1 or during the area’s annual festivals and events which include the Winter Bluegrass Festival held in mid February, the Mississippi River Art Fair held on Memorial Day weekend, National Tom Sawyer Days held in early June, and the Autumn Historic Folklife Festival held the 3rd weekend in October.

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