Mark Twain Monument


Photo courtesy of Vicki Dempsey, Hannibal, MO

Dave Thomson explains:

This statue was commissioned by Fred Schwartz who is a successful farmer cultivating many acres of land in Illinois just across the Mississippi from Hannibal, Missouri. The statue was to be made by an artist in China and represent Mark Twain (Sam Clemens) as a young steamboat pilot. The completed bronze arrived in Hannibal in June, 2003 and was unveiled and dedicated on the 4th of July, 2003 in a riverfront park near the steamboat landing where the Delta Queen and other boats tie up and the passengers disembark.

The original design proposed for the statue was derived from a photo of Mark Twain at the age of 60 in 1895. In that picture he was seated in a deck chair aboard a westbound ship crossing the Pacific Ocean during his around the world lecture tour. Twain was wearing his trademark mustache and bushy hair and a "captain's cap."

I advised Fred Schwartz that Samuel Clemens should appear as he did at the age of 23 in an 1858 photograph in which he wore his hair in a fairly high pompadour style and sported "lamb chop" sideburns. I also recommended that the "captain's cap" should be eliminated from concept.

The source of the style of clothing he's wearing came from the first full length photo we have of Clemens which was taken in Nevada in 1864 where he wore a low cut frock coat, a vest and high collar with necktie.

The artist prettified the facial features in the statue from the actual physiognomy of the young Sam Clemens. His features had a good deal more character and closely resembled the actor Tom Berenger.

I also wrote the text for the plaque that's attached to the pedestal on the base of the statue - Here 'tis:



In 1857 the young SAMUEL CLEMENS began to learn the trade of steamboat pilot. In 1859 he became a licensed pilot on the Lower Mississippi River. When his piloting career ended with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Clemens went West to Nevada Territory where he first used the pen name MARK TWAIN in 1863 while writing for the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City. Clemens took the name "Mark Twain" from the river sounding that indicated 12 feet of water which was safe for navigation.



mark twain monument
Photo above taken at sunrise, 2010.

More photos from in and around the monument area:




Attached riverscape photo I took from the Missouri shore in Oct 2005 along mile-long Ziegler Chute looking northeast with mile-long Ziegler Island across the way. As you can see the chute is as wide as many rivers but it's only a fraction as wide as the Mississippi in which it begins and then flows back into. Have been wondering if the channel is deep enough for a steamboat. I forgot to ask Curt Lees if he would take us up Ziegler Chute and out into the river a mile above Scipio where he lived. Should be deep enough for his pontoon boat and maybe the Hannibal excursion boat MARK TWAIN.

Also attached photo of me with Curt & Ann's dog Fancy aboard their pontoon boat on the Mississippi. I took the photo of Fancy saluting with her left paw while we were walking down the river road from Scipio to Hannibal. We stopped and I kept talking to her and repeating her name and finally she raised her paw, perhaps saying "Enough already!" Fancy enjoyed those long walks along the road and up into Riverview Park and on Turtle Island out in the middle of the river.


During the late '90's I took this of my Camry with its personalized TWAIN plate in front of the old Hannibal Woodworking building on a street that runs parallel to Bear Creek along the southern edge of town.



Hannibal MO complications

Jason Michael Harris

October 29, 1971 - August 11, 2013

Jason Michael Harris, 41, of Palmyra, Missouri and previously of Hannibal, MO, died at 8:57 AM Sunday, August 11, 2013 at his home.

Memorial Services will be at 7:00 PM Friday, August 16, 2013 at the James O'Donnell Funeral Home in Hannibal. Father Mike Quinn will officiate. Visitation will be from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM Friday at the James O'Donnell Funeral Home.

Mr. Harris was born October 29, 1971, in Hannibal, MO to Michael Harris and Debbie Pippinger Harris.

He was previously married to Mandy Widaman and she survives.

Also survivng are his parents; Debbie D. Harris of Hannibal, MO and Michael Harris (Deborah) of New London, MO, 1 son, Jude Isaac Harris of Hannibal MO, and his fiance, Carolyn E. McQuillen of Palmyra, MO.

He is preceded in death by his paternal and maternal grandparents.

Mr. Harris was an appliance specialist at Lowes in Hannibal, MO and previously worked as a manager at Game Stop and Sam Goody - FYE.

Jason loved and enjoyed spending time and playing with his son, Jude, including swimming in the river.

He loved music and movies and liked gaming and hunting. Jason was looking forward to the birth of his unborn child.

Memorial contributions may be made to Jude Isaac Harris's Education Fund in care of the James O'Donnell Funeral Home.

Honorary pallbearers will be Harjot Padda, Jared Holman, Gunnar Harris, Ty Long, Rick Harris, Mark Harris, Jeff Landrum, and George Johnson.


"Riverboat Folk" lettering on store front window.

I took this on South Main Street in Hannibal some years ago.

RIVERBOAT FOLK was devoted to furniture and interior decorating.

This locale looks like it was in the vicinity of where the Hannibal Arts Council has its gallery now.


Mark Twain Title Co. 306 Center Street in ol' Hannibal

The MARK TWAIN TITLE COMPANY's beautiful sign on the Benjamin Horr House is a historic home located at Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri. The sign had faded so I enhanced and increased contrast to made it more readable in this photo that I took in 2010.

It was built about 1855, a two-story, vernacular Greek Revival style brick structure.

It has a front gable roof with cornice. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Elizabeth Horr, Benjamin's wife, ran a school in Hannibal during the 1840's that Sam Clemens attended.

Mark Twain Title Co.
306 Center Street
Hannibal, MO 63401


Mark Twain Printers

Vintage "Mark Twain Printers" sign silk screened on masonite in the window of a small one story brick building on Main Street in South Hannibal, on the other side of Bear Creek from the main business district of Hannibal, Missouri during the 1990's. The right quarter of the sign seemed to have been roughly broken off and in the ragged void left behind are 20 annual Hannibal circular Merchant's License stickers.

Sam Clemens began working as a "Printer's Devil" on the Hannibal Courier newspaper further north up Main Street in 1848 so the "Printer's business" being called after his pen name was appropriate. Haven't seen the sign at that location in many years now so the enterprise doesn't seem to be there anymore.


Attached 2 photos I took during the 1990's of the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN's stern where she sat moored on the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Missouri with a sign to local tourist attractions.

Mississippi Queen at Hannibal, MO 1990's

Composite of photos I had taken on separate Octobers in Riverview Park in Hannibal of the Mark Twain statue. This can go with those photos of the Mississippi River and Turtle Island taken from the Park and down on the water.


Here's Turtle Island from a higher elevation where you can see its contours a bit better. This is from Riverview Park close to where a bigger than life bronze of Mark Twain stands on a marble pedestal wearing a statesman like overcoat and looking out at the river. Great days for clouds when I took these pictures, love the skies back there and often when there aren't any clouds the sky is a much deeper blue than I see here in L.A.


Second telephoto view also looking from "Lovers Leap," this time up river, north towards the Mark Twain Memorial highway bridge that in 2000 replaced the original 1936 bridge that bore the same name.

Behind the highway bridge in the distance is the Wabash railroad bridge which originally had a swing span to permit river traffic to pass beneath it.

In 1994 the swing span was replaced with an elevated span that performs the same service.





Attached a picture I took in October, 2005 with a telephoto lens looking East from a high bluff that features an outcropping known as "Lovers Leap" south of Hannibal, Missouri.

On top you can see the densely wooded Illinois shore and below it on the Mississippi river is the local excursion boat MARK TWAIN; close to the Missouri shore a big towboat pushes covered barges and in the foreground a diesel locomotive pulls freight cars loaded with coal.

Second telephoto view also looking from "Lovers Leap," this time up river, north towards the Mark Twain Memorial highway bridge that in 2000 replaced the original 1936 bridge that bore the same name.

Behind the highway bridge in the distance is the Wabash railroad bridge which originally had a swing span to permit river traffic to pass beneath it.

In 1994 the swing span was replaced with an elevated span that performs the same service.

The third photo that I took in the mid '90's shows that span raised and a towboat passing downriver below it.

On Hannibal's waterfront is the marina in the foreground and behind it the wharf boat for the excursion boat MARK TWAIN whose stacks and pilot house rises behind it.

Third photo with glorious fall color was taken shortly after dawn in October during mid '90's from the old River Road.

Across the river are BUNGE's grain silos on the Illinois shore and local towboat SIR RANDALL moving upstream above the railroad bridge which can be seen on the far right.

The view of islands in the river north of town was taken from Orchard Point, Hannibal's most exclusive residential neighborhood.

Just for variety have included Tiffany Dickman standing on 5th Street with the Pettibone house in Hannibal where she was living in the early '80's (below).



Hannibal, MO vintage photos:

Sept 1958, 12 year old self with bronze statue of Tom and Huck at foot of Cardiff Hill.


Photo redux, 34 years of wear and tear on me later, taken November, 1992. The statue itself had been restored in the intervening years and looked as good as new.


Taken in Oct 2003, 57 year old kid who never grew up, with statue that I advised the statue's donor Fred Schwartz on of Sam Clemens as a steamboat pilot, late 1850's with "pompadour" hairstyle and mutton chop sideburns.

A local in town got all steamed up because he assumed Clemens had a mustache when he was a pilot but Sam didn't grow one until he was in Nevada Territory during the early 1860's.

The statue is down at the landing where the steamboats land so passengers can see this "unrecognizable" Clemens that they didn't know ever looked that.

Fred was mortified by the public attack of the outraged citizen who took out a page in the local paper to advocate that the statue should be removed for being inauthentic.

Generous Fred lived in a beautiful home protected by the levee on the north side of the Mark Twain bridge on the Illinois side of the river.

He passed on at age 80 on October 4th, 2014. Fred was a real big-hearted sweetheart of a guy who deserved more accolades instead of unfounded criticism.

The statue was made by an artist in China which probably accounts for the "W" in TWAIN looking like and upside down "M."

I encouraged Fred to tell the sculptor to refer to photos of Tom Berenger when he was a young man bore a likeness to Sam Clemens the steamboat pilot.


From the 1930's and into the '50's one of the tourism "fashions" was post cards with jumbo letters, spelling out the name of a town, city or state in "epic" style letters in perspective. The front of each letter contained familiar images associated with the town, city or state.

I scanned the old card of HANNIBAL, Missouri then cleaned up the sides in Photoshop and replaced all the old images with photos I had taken. In this particular composite I placed the whole thing over a detail from an aerial photo I had taken from a little single engine plane flying over Hannibal and the Mississippi River in October 1995.

The images inside each letter are as follows:
H - Mark Twain's Boyhood Home
A - A detail from the aerial photo of the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse on Cardiff Hill and in the distance, the local excursion boat "Mark Twain" on the river.
N - Huck Finn in bronze
N - Tom Sawyer in bronze
I - Mark Twain in bronze
B - The sternwheel of the Delta Queen
A - Lovers Leap
L - An actual color photo of Mark Twain taken at his home Stormfield near Redding, Connecticut


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
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