Visitors Guide to
Lover's Leap
Highway 79
Hannibal, MO

Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities Accessible Interpretive Signage Accessible Scenic View

There are at least eight geological formations in Missouri known as Lover's Leap. One of these formations is located on the southeast edge of Hannibal and is a major Mississippi River promontory exposing a cap of Burlington Limestone, and underlying Hannibal Shale and Louisiana Limestone formations. These high bluff promontories inspired local legends involving an Indian maiden who commits suicide with her lover or jumps to her death to avoid marrying a warrior she despises. There are several possible sources for Hannibal's local legend including one that claims it was the work of the imagination of Hannibal newspaperman Orion Clemens, Mark Twain's older brother. The following is an excerpt from "History Of Marion County" by E. F. Perkins in 1884:

"Lover's Leap" is a large bluff in the southern part of Hannibal. It was given this name about 1840, by some genius who applied to it the scene of the oft repeated story of the Indian Maiden who dashed herself down from a rock precipice rather than wed a warrior she did not love.

From Winona, Minnesota, to the mouth of the Ohio there are not less than a dozen "Lover's Leaps" and "Maiden Rocks," all with the same legend, and each with the same claim to being the only genuine "Leap"--all others being mere imitations and deceptions--"beware of counterfeits."

The Hannibal "Lover's Leap" has just as good claim to the distinction of being the locality where the dusty maiden distributed herself along the sides and among the rock at the base, as any other bluff or declivity. Since the whole story is an invention of a romantist and he who is deceived thereby is not wise---an Indian girl marries the "buck" selected for her by her father, and is indifferent about the matter altogether.

Should she remonstrate at the selection made for her, a few applications of a rawhide or a keen hickory switch, applied to her bare back soon overcome her objections.

Along with the legends of lovers leaping to their deaths, there is a documented story of the use of Hannibal's Lover's Leap by the Millerites. Millerites were the followers of the American Baptist preacher William Miller who prophesied the Second Coming of Christ. Miller's third prediction of the date of Christ's return was October 22, 1844 and on this day Millerites in the Hannibal area abandoned their crops and stores, put on long white robes, and gathered at Lover's Leap only to be ultimately disappointed.

Lover's Leap is a 5-acre of city park directly off MO- 79. The park includes a picnic shelter, benches, and historical information. Visitors will find panoramic views of Hannibal, the Mississippi River (photo left,) and miles of Illinois farmland. The stone cliff is fenced off to prevent modern lovers or others from jumping.


Visiting Lover's Leap Park
There is no charge to visit Lover's Leap Park

Directions: Lover's Leap is located directly off of MO-79 (the Great River Road) approximately 1 mile south of downtown Hannibal.

GPS Coordinates
N  39  42.228
W 90  20.833

Learn more about the Hannibal area. - Official site of Hannibal Parks and Recreation.
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