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 in Hannibal; plaque with dedication by Dave Thomson (below)

mark twain monument
Photo taken at sunrise, 2010.

twain statue

Myself with the pilot statue of Sam Clemens on the waterfront at Hannibal. One of the locals hated the statue and took out a full page in the local paper insulting the statue with all the abuse in his tiny soul.
Editor's note: That's just sad!! Thanks for the great photos!! Love your distressed jeans and old-timey suspenders, your signature style of casual retro-fashion.

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