Hannibal is known around the world as America’s Hometown. It’s most famous son is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who is known as the famous Mark Twain (1835-1910). It’s a picturesque town on the Mississippi River whose docking port draws huge passenger riverboats like the American Queen to its shores. The river was a favorite topic of Mark Twain, and his connection to this river city is seen all over town. Tourists come from the world over to see his boyhood home. Many of the businesses and attractions in Hannibal focus on the relationship to Mark Twain. In addition to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, you can visit the Mark Twain Cave complex (made famous in the “Adventures of Tom Sawyer”) and you can take a ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat. You can also visit the home of the Unsinkable Molly Brown, the famous survivor of the Titanic.

Hannibal has more parks per person than most towns in the entire Midwest. Its crown jewel is Riverview Park, which offers 465 acres of prime land overlooking the Mighty Mississippi. It has a new trail system that winds from the majestic bluffs down to the riverfront. The view of the Mississippi and the cityscape of Hannibal from Lover’s Leap is one of the most photographed landscapes in the state. A gated levee protects the historic district from flooding.

Hannibal is situated along the Great River Road, which is a 3,000-mile scenic drive along the Mississippi. It’s part of the famed 50 Miles of Art, which features artisans who have chosen to locate their diverse studios here. It has a thriving cultural base, with live shows, eclectic studios, community theater and much more. It offers trendy shops, many antique stores, fine restaurants, nationally acclaimed bed and breakfasts, stately mansions and diverse architecture.

Hannibal’s History

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Marion County was first settled by Indians in the early 800’s. The Mississippian mound-builders work can still be seen in the county. The Sac and Fox tribes were forced to migrate south in mid-1700’s. The first documented European in the area was the French missionary, Father Louis Hennepin. He was exploring along the river and landed just north of Hannibal, claiming the property for the King of France. Trappers and fur traders then settled the land to carry on trade with the Indians. After the Louisiana Purchase, immigrants from North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky called this area home. In the mid-1800’s, a wave of immigrants from the Atlantic Coast, particularly Pennsylvania, settled in the county. Both Palmyra and Hannibal were established in 1819.

Moses Bates founded Hannibal. It soon experienced a population explosion as a principal docking port. Hannibal hosted steamboats, flatboats and packet steamers. Hannibal was also known as a railroad town/ The fist locomotive manufactured west of the Mississippi and the first railway mail care were made in Hannibal. Other early industry included soap and candle making, umber, pork packing, tanning, and grain mills.
Marion County, Missouri combines the peacefulness of country living, the promise of excitement and recreation, and the proximity of major metro areas. Situated along the Mississippi River bordering Illinois, Marion County is at the crossroads of major growth. Recent upgrades to two major four-lane roads that intersect in Marion County—Interstate 72 and US 61—place the county on map for an explosion of growth.

Marion County offers the recreation of the Mississippi River and also nearby Mark Twain Lake, which is just a 20-minute drive. Mark Twain Lake offers miles of unspoiled shoreline. Crappie and bass fishing are outstanding at the lake. The Corp of Engineers offers hundreds of campsites. You can also camp and fish at two state parks that border Marion County. With lots of agriculture and wooded land, hunting is a major draw to the county. It ranks among the top areas in the state for deer harvested each year.

Marion County boasts a diverse economy. In addition to the thriving tourism trade, the economy also benefits from industries including the agricultural chemicals, rubber and plastic products, commercial food production lines, electrical and automotive equipment and other manufactured goods. It is served by two award-winning regional hospitals and health-care clinics. Marion County has an excellent accredited education system. It offers several public and parochial choices in education. Hannibal LaGrange University offers four-year degrees. Moberly Area Community College has a satellite campus there, and nearby John Wood Community College also offers a two-year program.

More than 28,000 people reside in Marion County. The larges cities are Hannibal and Palmyra. Palmyra, also called the Flower City, is the county seat. It has a population of 3,467. It has been called the “Handsomest City in North Missouri” and it boasts more than 200 antebellum structures. Six buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lover’s Leap photo provided by artotemsco and Downtown Hannibal image by carlwwycoff, both under the Creative Commons license.