Friday, July 14, 2017

Mark Twain, Hannibal, and the Mississippi River

For the last fourteen days, I have been traveling with my family.  (And we're still driving back to Cali right now.)  We spent five days in El Paso, Texas, and the remainder of the time in Missouri.  While we were in Missouri, we drove up to the little town of Hannibal, which sits on the edge of the Mississippi River.  Mark Twain's boyhood home is there, as well as the setting for many of his written works.  When Twain grew up there, his environment influenced and inspired him; today it is Twain who influences the little town of Hannibal.  

Here are some of the pictures from our trip.

View of Mississippi from my hotel

I was super excited to see the Mississippi River for the first time.  We spent our school year learning about European explorers who first came to the River.  Spanish explorer De Soto couldn't care less about being the first European to come to it; he later died of illness, and his crew dumped his body into the River.

La Salle claimed the area west of Mississippi River for France; but later when he returned to the Gulf of Mexico to find the opening of the River, he ended up in Texas.  He and his crew had to walk back toward the Mississippi River with their supplies, but they grew weary of La Salle's oversight and murdered him.  Talk about tolerance.

The amazing explorations of Marquette and Joliet remind me a lot of Lewis and Clark.  They were only interested in making maps of the Mississippi River, collecting specimens, and sharing the gospel, not of conquering or claiming land for a king.

The little, quaint town of Hannibal

Mark Twain's boyhood home

Inside the kitchen

Dining area
An office
While in Hannibal, we took a turn on the Mark Twain on the Mississippi River.


The captain told us how Twain incorporated the River and these islands in his stories, like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

This is Lover's Leap
(View of the Mississippi River from Lover's Leap)
 Since we sat on the very top deck (directly in front of the the pilot house), the captain asked my children if they would like to steer the boat for a bit.

The captain also pointed out a bald eagle perched in a tree on one of the islands, which was a first for me because I have never seen one in the wild.  

Another attraction in Hannibal is the Norman Rockwell Museum.  All of the works that Rockwell did for Twain are here in this museum.  Here are just two:

While visiting Hannibal, I got to see a cardinal.  Living in New York, I would see them often, but it has been awhile now that I live in Cali.  So I was overly excited to catch a glimpse of one of these.  (I love birds.)

Our final stop was at the Mark Twain Caves, of which you must know he used in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  This tour was a lot of fun, and our guide was excellent.  He shared much Mark Twain trivia throughout the tour.  So cool.

People left their signatures on the cave wall

Once, Jesse James hid out in these caves.  His signature is also on the wall, but we were unable to go to it.  Later we saw a picture of it.

This was such a great experience.  I feel like I will never read another Twain story without thinking about his childhood and the town of Hannibal.  It will forever be etched in my mind.  


Jillian said...

Wow, I love these pictures! So fun to visit literary places and see what has been described by a favorite author! Love the grins on your kids' faces as they steer the boat. :D

Michelle Ann said...

What an interesting place to visit. I haven't read any Mark Twain since I left school, so maybe it's time to revisit Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Ruth said...

It was a wonderful experience. I agree. it probably means more to me than anyone in my family - in fact, I know it does - because I am the one doing all the reading. I just drag them along.

Ruth said...

It was a sweet, little town, with a lot of history. Being there made Twain's stories come to life for me. I'll read them again someday with a better connection to him.