Mark Twain lived in Hannibal, Missouri, as a boy. He used his memories, along with his imagination, to inspire the writing of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And now the town is devoted to Mark Twain. This is the house he lived in.
They offer a self-guided tour of his boyhood home, Becky Thatcher's home, his father the judge's office, the doctor's home, and a museum that includes Norman Rockwell's illustrations for Tom Sawyer along with other Twain memorabilia. I was a little disappointed by the displays. In Mark Twain's house, they quoted him from letters he wrote after his last, nostalgic visit to Hannibal. But there weren't any signs telling which room had been his or his brother's, and which one was the living room, or any other details that might have made the tour more interesting. The other buildings had even less in the way of identifying information. You just looked into rooms from behind glass and hoped your picture didn't get too much glare from the camera's flash in it. Only the museum gave a lot of information.
There were a couple gift shops, and the one by the Mark Twain House sells this T-shirt. If I were much of a T-shirt wearer, I probably would have bought it.
Getting from the homes and businesses on the tour down to the museum requires a walk down Main Street. The shops there include a pet store that sells homemade doggie treats (I bought a chicken-liver brownie for Scooter), and a coffee shop that says it's "the first coffee shop west of the Mississippi."
Down a few blocks from Main Street is the Mississippi River, and Mark Twain Riverboat rides are available. The river banks are much prettier here in Hannibal than they were in St. Louis, and the water isn't muddy. I can see why young Sam enjoyed the river so much.
Just upstream from the riverboat is a small park, and in it is this stand of birdhouses. The marker at the base of it says, "Purple Martin House." Since the houses aren't purple, my guess is that the martins are purple, but there weren't any birds around the houses.
A mile or two south of town is Lover's Leap, which as far as I can tell has nothing to do with Mark Twain or any of his characters. The marker tells the legend of a pair of star-crossed lovers of warring Indian tribes who together leapt from this promontory so they wouldn't have to be without each other. The Lover's Leap park gives a great view over the town, up and down the Mississippi, and over Illinois farm country.
It was a pleasant afternoon--hot, though--but I don't think I'd need to go back again.