Traverse the labyrinth which inspired Mark Twain’s famous work, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, on an hour long guided tour of Missouri’s oldest show cave, containing 260 passageways. The tour route is lit and walkways are level and smooth, with no stairs. Bring your camera and wear sensible walking shoes. A light jacket is suggested as the cave is a consistent 52° year round.
The Mark Twain Cave was discovered in the winter of 1819 when Jack Sims tracked a panther into what appeared to be a small den. He later discovered it was an extensive underground network. The cave was made famous by the author Mark Twain. Mark Twain grew up in Hannibal and had spent much of his childhood playing in the cave near his home. His memory of the cave stayed with him into adulthood and eventually became immortalized in his writings. His signature has never been found in the cave but it still bears his mark; the cave, at the time known as McDowell’s Cave, was renamed Mark Twain Cave in his honor.
The Mark Twain Cave holds 200 years of history inside its walls. On your tour you will hear many stories from people that have come and gone leaving there own marks on the cave.
Joseph Nash McDowell – He bought the cave in 1848 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.
Jessie James — After a botched robbery attempt he hid out in Tennessee. In 1879 he decided to head for Independence, MO to assemble a new gang. On his way through, he signed* his name in the Mark Twain Cave which is dated September 22, 1879, sixteen days before he robbed a train in Independence with his new crew, and only three years before his death.
*Signature is not seen on the normal tour route
Things to remember about your adventure:
1. No steps
2. 52 degrees year round
3. Flat surface for walking
4. A jacket or sweater is recommended
5. Not wheelchair accessible
6. Sensible walking shoes are recommended
No food or beverages in the cave.