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Overview

Hannibal was founded in 1819 along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries the city flourished as a docking port for steamboats, flatboats and packet steamers that traversed the upper Mississippi. By 1845 it had become the second largest city and third commercial center of Missouri. Almost 140 years ago Mark Twain (nee Samuel L. Clemens) transformed this sleepy river town into an American icon with his books telling tales of the adventures of two young scamps, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. These books provide an excellent description of what life was like along the Mississippi ...

Hannibal was founded in 1819 along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries the city flourished as a docking port for steamboats, flatboats and packet steamers that traversed the upper Mississippi. By 1845 it had become the second largest city and third commercial center of Missouri. Almost 140 years ago Mark Twain (nee Samuel L. Clemens) transformed this sleepy river town into an American icon with his books telling tales of the adventures of two young scamps, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. These books provide an excellent description of what life was like along the Mississippi River in the 19th century. Twain was born in Florida, Missouri but moved to Hannibal with his family when he was four years old. Many of the ideas for Twain’s books about Tom and Huck, and others that he wrote, grew from his own experiences and people that he knew while growing up in Hannibal. Many of Hannibal’s premier attractions are geared towards Twain and his books: the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, the Mark Twain Cave Complex, the Mark Twain Mississippi Riverboat, and Mark Twain Himself performances by actors who recreate the character of Mark Twain on stage. Also, the Hannibal Trolley Company Sightseeing Tours loop the city with conductors giving a running commentary on the history and the sites. The trolleys stop at several of the local attractions. You can board and re-board all day.

Frances Folsom
About the Expert

Frances Folsom is the author of CitySpot Palermo, a contributor to the Reiskits guides to Milan and Italy's Lakes Region, and Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring is lovely in this part of Missouri, with lots of flora and fauna and mild temperatures. Summer months are hot and humid.