Thursday, May 12, 2022

My Mark Twain Cave Visit

entrance to the gift shop 
Right behind it is where the entrance to the tour starts

On May 1st, my niece and I went to Hannibal, MO and visited several of the Mark Twain museums.  While there, we also took a tour through the Mark Twain Cave.  I've been a couple of times in the past but it'd been several years.  The times I went before, people were only allowed to take pictures in one specific spot.  This time, people were able to take as many pictures as they wanted.  So, you bet I did!

The Mark Twain Cave tour is based upon both factual history and fiction inspired Mark Twain’s famous work, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  A tour guide takes you through the hour-long walk and weaves both the fiction and non-fiction together.  There are also several interesting stops along the route.

Mark Twin Cave was discovered in 1819.  Although you can't go through the initial discovery spot, visitors can see where it is located.  This is Missouri’s oldest show cave, containing 260 passageways.  Not all passageways are accessible on the tour, but the hour-long tour still takes you on several of them.

Here's some fun facts regarding the cave:

1.  Bats used to be quite plentiful and visitors will notice blackened spots on the cave ceiling where bats used to hang out.  There are still a few here and there but you'll rarely see a bat now due to all the people that travel through.

2.  The cave is 52 degrees year-round and some of the passageways are electrically lit so visitors can see.  There is one spot during the tour where the guide turns out all the lights so you can get an idea of how dark it really is.

3.  Norman Rockwell rendered a Tom and Becky painting while actually painting in the cave. 

bat markings

4.  There are several autographs that line the cave walls.  Before the cave became a National Landmark, people would use soot or sharpened tools to put their names and dates on the walls.  Very few "autographs" are past 1972 and that's because it's now illegal to add any writing to the walls unless given special permission.

5.  Jessie James signed his name in the Mark Twain Cave which is dated September 22, 1879, sixteen days before he robbed a train in Independence.  Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) also signed his name in the cave many years ago but it was only recently discovered in 2019.  Both names have been authenticated.

6.  Joseph Nash McDowell bought the cave in 1847 and was the owner during Mark Twain’s childhood. He is infamous for putting his recently deceased daughter into a copper cylinder and placing the cylinder in the back of his cave hoping to further his theory of human petrification. When Hannibal residents learned of this act, they begged him to remove her and bury her as was deemed proper.

The red line marks the path that visitors take

The Mark Twain Cave is a stop I highly recommend.  It's visually astonishing and quite the learning experience about the cave itself and about Becky Thatcher/Tom Sawyer.  


Tami Vollenweider said...

What a neat place to visit!! That nice cooler temperature would be nice to go in, it's 92 where I live at!

Sparkles and Lattes said...

How cool. Seems like it was a fun visit.

jjmon2012 said...

WOW in my younger days I loved to go through tour caves. Sounds like there was a lot of interesting stuff to see. This is the first I heard about a Mark Twain tour cave

Jackie said...

This sounds like an awesome tour! I've never toured a cave, but I love learning about history.

Theresa Mahoney said...

It's fun exploring caves. We first did cave tours in Tennessee, but I'd like to visit this Mark Twain cave tour as well. Glad you were able to take as many pics as you wanted!