Unusual Tourist Sites: Mark Twain Museum Hannibal Missouri Part 1

About the unusual tourist site the Mark Twain Museum in his boyhood home of Hannibal, Missouri, history and information.

Hannibal, Missouri

Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum ... Mark Twain's novels conjure up childhood memories in everyone. Twain (Samuel Clemens) was able to capture the essence of boyhood in his writing--its innocence, its humor, and its hard times--as no one else could. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, his finest novel, is probably the most influential piece of American fiction ever written.

Much of the material for Twain's books was collected while he was growing up in Hannibal, Mo., a town he described as "a little democracy ... full of liberty, equality and 4th of July." In 1839, 4-year-old Sam Clemens moved to Hannibal with his parents. Five years later, his father built the little home which became the setting for incidents in 2 of his books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The house stands today as a shrine to the great American humorist and novelist.

Hannibal, located along the Mississippi River about 100 mi. northwest of St. Louis, is now an industrial center with a population of about 19,000. As the city has expanded, the legend of Twain has grown with it, and he has been honored in every conceivable way. Hotels, restaurants, museums, parks, bridges, and shopping centers in Hannibal have all been named after the author or the characters he created.

The Mark Twain Boyhood Home was where Clemens lived until the age of 18, whereupon he left town to embark on his literary career. The house is a simple and plain white 2-story frame structure. It is now furnished with authentic period pieces from the early days in Hannibal.

Clemens's father died when Sam was 12, and the youngster lived with his mother and 4 brothers and sisters in the neat white house. His mother was a gentle and influential woman, losing her temper with young Sam only once, when he returned home after nearly drowning in Bear Creek, a forbidden swimming site.

The white board fence that borders the Mark Twain Boyhood Home is the site of a community-wide celebration each July. A nationwide competition, the National Tom Sawyer Fence Painting Contest, is held to determine the best young fence painter.

Year round, tourists are able to take some whitewash brushes and pose as if they were painting the fence. But no whitewash is actually used.

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