by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
March 1, 2004
Our driver/guide kept us entertained with interesting tidbits about the town and some of its well-known citizens -- ballplayer Joe Jackson and "Unsinkable" Molly Brown. The majority of the tour centered around the town’s most famous citizen – literary legend
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. One of the more interesting facts I learned was that Twain was born in 1835 when Haley’s Comet was visible from earth and died in 1910, the next time the Comet was visible -- quite an eerie coincidence.
The first major point of interest on the tour was Hill Street where many of the buildings featured in Clemens’ stories are located including the picket fence, Becky Thatcher’s house, Clemens’ boyhood home and the law office where his father worked. The trolley couldn’t actually drive along Hill Street since it is pedestrian only but we got a brief overview of each building.
We made a quick stop at the foot of Cardiff Hill to see the Tom and Huck statue. This bronze statue was sculpted in 1926 and was the first statue commemorating a literary character.
Then it was on to Riverview Park to admire the views of the Mississippi below. From there we stopped at Rockcliffe Mansion. Built in 1900 it was touted as one of the finest river estates in America and was the setting for Twain’s last public appearance in Hannibal in 1902. The mansion has been restored to its original splendor and is open for tours. We also passed by Molly Brown’s home, Hannibal’s second most famous citizen. Molly was born here in 1867 to Irish immigrant parents. Her early years were filled with poverty but in a real life rags to riches story she married a wealthy gentleman and became one of society’s matrons. Her nickname, "Unsinkable," came about because she was one of the survivors of the Titanic.
The trolley traveled to the outskirts of town where we made a brief stop at Sawyers Creek Fun Center as well as the Mark Twain and Cameron Caves, located just across the highway. Our tour finished back in town with a trip along the river front where the Mark Twain Riverboat was moored.
Tours run regularly throughout the day from 9am to 5pm mid April to October. Our tour started from the trolley depot on Main Street and lasted about an hour. Overall it was quite informative and we definitely felt we got our money’s worth. I think the best way is to take the tour first and then go back to individual sights to explore in more detail on your own.
From journal America's Hometown