Hannibal, Missouri


Telephoto photo taken from "Lovers Leap," looking 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 now performs the service.


Taken in October, 2005 with a telephoto lens looking East from the same bluff a short distance south of "Lovers Leap." On top is the densely wooded Illinois shore and below that 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.


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


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. I took this photo in the late '90's while the elevated span was raised to permit a towboat to pass downriver under 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.


Tiffany Dickman standing on 5th Street with the Pettibone house in Hannibal where she was living in the early '80's.

I took these photos 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.


"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 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.


Mark Twain Title Co. 306 Center Street in 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.

The two-story, vernacular Greek Revival style brick structure was built about 1855, two years after Sam Clemens had left town.

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 at this location during the 1840's which Sam Clemens attended.

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


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.


Looking upriver from Riverview Park where the bigger than life bronze of Mark Twain stands on a marble pedestal wearing a statesman like overcoat and looking out at the Mississippi and Turtle Island. Great day for clouds when I took this, love the skies and often when there aren't any clouds the sky is usually a much deeper blue than I see in California.


Lovers Leap and the flooded shoreline south of Hannibal in 2013

This terrific photo was taken by Barry Messer in June of 2013 of "Lovers Leap" during a Mississippi River flood at Hannibal, MO. Barry was standing 230 feet above the river which had overflowed and covered much of the flood plain which begins where there are submerged trees sticking out of the water about a third of the way up from the bottom of the picture. Across the river along the Illinois shore are two islands, one of which has often been pointed out as the original "Jackson's Island" in the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. The river has washed away many islands and formed new ones so the islands visible in the distance probably originated years after Sam Clemens left Hannibal in 1853.

"Lovers Leap is an outcropping of the Missouri bluff 230 feet above the south end of Hannibal's Main Street. Believing Protestant preacher William Miller's prophecy that the world would end on October 22, 1844, a group of local believers in the Hannibal area dressed in long white robes and ascended to the crest of Lovers Leap, where they waited to be snatched to Heaven when the world was destroyed."
- Adapted from the WPA Guide to Missouri

On Sunday afternoon June 1st, 1902 Mark Twain and his friend John Briggs toured Hannibal and recalled their boyhood adventures together. Mark Twain spoke of the visit during a speech he made on November 28, 1902 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City:

"We climbed to the top of Holliday's Hill, and looked out again over that magnificent panorama of the Mississippi River, sweeping along league after league, a level green paradise on one side, and retreating capes and promontories as far as you could see on the other, fading away in the soft, rich lights of the remote distance."

A local reporter wrote in a Ralls County Record article from June 6, 1902 overheard the two men talking and quoted Mark Twain as saying:

"There is the place by the island where we used to swim. There is where a man was drowned, and there is where the steamboat sank. Yonder is Lovers Leap where the Millerites put on their robes one night to go up to heaven. None of them went that night, but no doubt many of them have gone since."

John Briggs said, "Sam, here is where we pried the rock loose, after digging the dirt out from under it for three Sundays." The rock went crashing down the hill, across the road, over a slave driving a wagon, and into a cooper shop.

Mark Twain said, "After the crash, we escaped and played innocents at home, although the local patrol gave us a close chase. I believe there were only four of us in that devilment, yet it was reported that there was a gang of forty."


Toppled tree on Turtle Island with man and dog north of Hannibal

In October 1997 Curt Lees took me out on his pontoon boat with his dog "Spook" (she was very dark but can be seen nearby on the fallen tree that I'm standing on). I gave Curt my camera to catch this photo of me and Spook on the north end of Turtle Island which is upriver from Scipio (which is north of Hannibal).

I was wearing my Wahmaker frontier style garb with a pull over band collar shirt, vest, trousers and comfy old fashioned soft leather boots with rubber soles for traction. The north end of the island took the brunt of the downstream current which caused the loss of a lot of big trees like this one whose roots were worn away by the strong current then they would topple.

I saw the stumps of tree on the islands and along the Missouri and Illinois shores that looked like blunt sharpened pencils which remained after they were chewed down by beavers then hauled off to make dams by them. We walked around on the islands which provide the wild feeling of the way they were when Sam Clemens and his friends explored them.

Turtle Island is large and dates back to the time of Clemens. For a while there was a sandy beach on the eastern side of the island courtesy of dredges that had scoured the bottom of the river to keep it deep enough for navigation and then distributed the sand along the island's shore. I believe that now the policy is to put what is dredged out of the river elsewhere so the beach has been diminished or gone by now. Was a nice place to tie up the boat and relax. Some of Curt's sons and grandchildren who were down from Minnesota or Iowa on one occasion and they set up targets to shoot at along the beach. I didn't partake of the target practice since I was in an introspective, solitary mood and sat alone on the beach trying to make sense of the frustrations of life.


Hannibal boys on a raft portraying Tom, Huck and Joe on the Mississippi in 1976

The cover of one of Weyerhaeuser Company Paper Division's 1976 publication featured the embossed text "TOM SAWYER IS 100" in rustic style capital letters in the stylized graphic bark on a tree as if the words had been carved there.

Introduction to the 17 color photos:

"THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER is exactly one century old in 1976. Herewith is Weyerhaeaser's birthday present. Scenes from TOM SAWYER, photographed in and near Hannibal, Missouri, using as models young people of Mark Twain's hometown as text passages from the novel.

This issue of INNOVATIONS IN PAPER, Volume 8 Number 2, displays some well known aspect of Tom and some not so well known ones. It concludes by putting that timeless lad into a very timeless light."

The color photos were taken by Larry Dale Gordon. Attached is my favorite which features Mark Hays as Tom Sawyer, Charles Crenshaw as Huck Finn and Stephen Ehrhardt as Joe Harper aboard their raft on the Mississippi with Turtle Island upriver behind them. Other settings included the interior of the Boyhood Home, Mark Twain Cave and Mount Olivet Cemetery.


Detail of a beautiful color photo of the Hannibal, MO excursion boat MARK TWAIN credited to "Dive Revan" on FLICKR.

Click here for the Twain monument and other statues and ephemera of Hannibal, Missouri


The LABINNAH CLUB (LABINNAH is HANNIBAL spelled backwards) is a B & B in downtown Hannibal, in a Victorian home and a restaurant. Mark Twain was a guest there during his last visit to the town in 1902 and he signed several pages of the guest register. I own one of those and the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal owns another one. There are probably more but we don't know who owns them. Attached is a reduced file of the composite I made which included and newspaper article given to me by Stelle Mahan Winkler whose grandfather George Mahan bought the Boyhood Home and the Becky Thatcher house, restored them and ultimately gave them to the City of Hannibal.


From the 1930's and into the '50's one of the "fashions" in postcards with jumbo letters that each contained photos of the town, city or state that it depicted. I scanned the one of HANNIBAL, Missouri then cleaned up the sides and replaced all the images with my own. In this particular composite I placed the whole thing over a detail from an aerial photo I took from a little single engine plane flying over Hannibal and the Mississippi in October 1995. It worked out pretty nicely. I also placed the design over other photos of Hannibal that included the river and familiar landmarks.

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.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*

All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.