Mark Twain put Hannibal on the map and many of the buildings in the downtown core
have been featured in his stories. For a small town we found quite a lot to see and do in
Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum - 208 Hill St.
Originally located in Clemens’ boy hood home, the museum was expanded to encompass the house next door. The Clemens house has been restored to its mid 1800 era with lots of period furniture. The museum annex in the back has photos of some of Hannibal’s real life citizens who Twain’s characters were modeled after as well as one of Twain’s original white suit jackets. Standing proudly beside the house is the white picket fence that Tom conned the neighborhood boys into painting.
Becky Thatcher House -- 211 Hill Street
Just across the street is the home of Laura Hawkins, Clemens’ childhood sweetheart who was the inspiration for Becky Thatcher. The main floor has been converted into a gift shop and tearoom, but upstairs are two restored room: Laura’s bedroom and the parlor where statues of Laura and her mother are shown preparing for a local dance. Thick sheets of Plexiglas keep visitors out of the rooms but the antique furnishings make it easy to get a sense of the era.
Grant’s Drug Store/Pilaster House -- Hill and Main
The house was built in the 1830s and the upstairs was where Clemens family lived for a few years until his father died in 1847. The main floor has antique pharmaceutical and health instruments on display.
Mark Twain Lighthouseatop Cardiff Hill
Built in 1935 to commemorate Twain’s 100th birthday, the lighthouse was never intended to be put into operation. Situated on top of Cardiff Hill, it was originally dedicated by President Roosevelt and later by President Kennedy and again by President Clinton after extensive restoration. The lighthouse isn’t open to visitors but I found this to be one of the most peaceful spots in Hannibal and the views of the town and the river were more than worth the climb.
Just outside of Hannibal is a hill top overlooking the Mississippi that provides scenic views of town and the chance to watch barges and tug boats ply the river. Legend says it got its name because of an Indian Romeo and Juliet who decided to run away together. Unfortunately they didn’t get far before they were tracked down by her family on this hill top where they chose to jump to their death rather than be separated.
Sawyer’s Creek -- Located on Highway 79 just outside Hannibal, this fun center/shopping arcade is a good place for kids to burn off excess energy with miniature golf, bumper boats and a video arcade. Although much of the park was closed for the season we fed the giant koi in the fish pond and browsed through the Christmas shop, wine shop and candy store.
The Caves - Cameron Cave and Mark Twain Cave are both located in the large Mark Twain Cave and Campground complex. They can only be visited on a one-hour guided tour and we got there too late in the day. Guess we’ll have to do that on our next visit to Hannibal.