We were so close to Marceline, Missouri that we had to visit. Marceline is what Walt Disney thought of as his home town. He grew up there and loved the family farm over anywhere else he had ever lived.
The old Autopia cars and track from Disneyland were given to the town of Marceline. For a while it was actually used. Eventually it became difficult to maintain the system. This is the best car from the set that remains. I wonder how many children and parents rode in this car.
One item in the museum is Walt's school desk. Walt confirmed that this was the desk he used and did carve his initials into the top.
The "Dreaming Tree" as Walt called it died and fell in a storm in 2015. A branch is here it the museum.
There are a lot of displays in the museum.
Walt's mother was not comfortable in large crowds and did not want to attend the Grand Opening of Disneyland. So to make sure she could at least watch the event he sent money so a TV would be available for her to watch. That TV was donated to the museum and it play's the opening over and over.
One of the things they have from Walt's early career as an artist was the light table that Walt worked on to draw when before starting Disney.
There is a whole set of scale models of the main street buildings and a few rides from Disneyland. They were amazingly detailed.
After the museum, we decided to go downtown for dinner. Disney had said that Main Street was based on downtown Marceline.
Our last stop was the former Disney farm. The owners have changes a few times but access to the area of the Dreaming Tree and Barn are maintained for the public. Disney said that this was the place where he got exposed to nature and memories that would later become many of his characters and basis for many of the movies.
The original Dreaming Tree is gone. Walt had commented many times that the tree was a focus of play many days during his childhood and a source of ideas. The tree fell in a storm and was already far older than normal for a Cottonwood tree. Before this a Brother of Dreaming Tree was planted from the original and is growing very quickly.
Finally, we got a short view of the former Disney home.
We spent our last day in Hannibal seeing the museums. The Clemens Interpretive Center has a very extensive history of his life in Hannibal. Several buildings make up the parts of the museum. The Interpretive Center, Clemens home, Tom Blankenship's home that Huck Finn was based on, Becky's home who's actual name was Laura Hawkins, his fathers law office, the pharmacy he lived over after his father died, and last was the Hannibal History Museum which is a two story building down the block that had the Norman Rockwell's paintings that represented scenes from his books.
The first stop is the Interpretive Center which leads to his Boyhood Home. Exhibits here show Clemens life from birth to death and include many of his family items.
We turned to "Huck Finn's" house next. The home was rebuilt to be as accurate as possible from memories of those who knew Tom Blankenship and his family.
Time to visit his Boyhood Home. There is a statue in almost every room with quotes or information on his life. When he lived here, his family was considered upper middle class.
Next was Becky's house. In the house was a "radio" that played a recording of Laura Hawkins speaking. She talked about her childhood and Clemens.
Next was his father's law office and then the Pharmacy. The rooms above the pharmacy were where the Grants family and the Clemens lived together. The Grants took in the Clemens when they came under hard times.
The final building was down two blocks.
We found the Mark Twain Museum. It was fantastic. The bottom floor is focused on a few of his books based around Hannibal. There are areas staged to be from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. They had a fence to white wash, cave, a small castle, and even a river raft that moved like it was floating on water.
The second floor is dedicated to Samuel Clemens' life with many personal items including letters he wrote to his wife when they were apart during his tours. There is the only known surviving white suit. They also have a first edition of all of his books.
Finally there were the Norman Rockwell original paintings used to represent scenes from the Mark Twain books. There were also pencil drawings.
We had a fantastic time in the museums. Our final stop was ":Lovers Leap" which is a high cliff overlooking the Mississippi. It gave us a great view of Hannibal, the river, and Illinois on the other side. It is known that Clemens climbed to the spot many times as a child. He passed it on his way to and from the cave.
We did something special for Father's Day. The riverboat Mark Twain serves meals and takes passengers on a tour of the river near Hannibal. On Sunday, they have a Captain's Lunch tour.
The Mark Twain Riverboat was built in 1964 and is 120 feet long, 33 feet wide, 6-foot draft with a 350 passenger capacity. It would have been a small paddle wheeler in Samuel Clemens day.
Our dinner was a traditional roast beef, mash potatoes, green beans, cheese noodles, salad, and a triple chocolate cake.
We stayed docked during the meal. The reason we did not eat on the move was not only to better enjoy the views but because many people have problems eating on a moving boat.
After dinner, we moved on to the top decks to tour the river.
The Captain narrated the trip by pointing out points of interest on the river.
He pointed out that the markings on bridges note the distance between the bridge and water level. It is pretty important to know how tall your boat is and if you can fit under a bridge. Today, a boat up to 60 foot tall above the water line could fit under the bridge safely.
The view of old town Hannibal looks much as it would have in Clemens day.
Time to move down river for a while.
Of course, the river is still used as a transportation system. There were a lot of full barges of corn and those waiting to be filled tied off in the river. Some guys were taking advantage to do a little bit of fishing.
It was a bit windy on the trip.
One of the sights to see along the river was Lover's Leap. The captain told us a legend of a Indian chief's daughter and a brave from the enemy tribe from the Illinois side of the river being in love. I am sure that Clemens would have climbed to the top many times in his childhood. Later, we will try to work in a drive to the top for pictures from that perspective.
I wonder how many times Samuel Clemens and his friends played in Bear Creek.
There are three islands across the river from Hannibal. One of these is referenced in Mark Twain's books.
It was a special Father's Day gift.
In the park, a statue gives tribute to Mark Twain.
Time to visit the town brewery.
As we pulled into the RV park after the riverboat ride, we decided to see if we could take a cave tour. Up until our last minute, we were going to get a private tour but just as we started into the cave a family of four came up and joined us. The two children were very curious and made the tour even more fun than it may have been if we had gone alone. Our tour guide was great. Much of the time, we felt like we were on the cave version of The Jungle Cruise ride at WDW. The jokes were SO CORNY.
The cave is very different from any other we have toured. Not only is it different in the formations but how the cave passages are like a maze. It would be very easy to get lost. This is the cave that is referenced in Mark Twain's books. Samuel Clemens walked through the passages with only a candle for light. It seems that Jesse James was here because his signature was found in the cave. A whole section of the cave is filled with signatures. Today that is no longer allowed but there were several that stood out to us. The signature of Clemens himself and one of two that may be family. Julie is checking to see if that.
The passages were very interesting. Several were famous for being recognized from Mark Twain's books.
Time to exit the cave. Amazingly the exit puts you at the gift shop. What an incredible coincidence...
We have arrived at Hannibal the hometown of Samuel Clemens. His pen name was Mark Twain. His family moved to Hannibal when he was 4 years old. He based the characters in his books on the people from Hannibal. The plan is to do all the tourist stuff in town.
After setting up the RV, we drove back into town for information from the Welcome Center. The lady working there had some really good information and suggested that we go to a one man show that was starting in 20 minutes. We did and the actor was great! He stayed in character as Samuel Clemens all the time and answered questions.
This theater was originally the stables for a nearby inn. The inn burnt down years ago. It is known as fact that Abraham Lincoln stabled his mule here when he came to try a case at the local court. So we sat where Abraham Lincoln's mule slept.
No pictures during the performance but I did get a picture of the playbill.
Samael Clemens did not attend school after 5th grade and learned his writing skills "on the job" as a typesetter for the local paper.
We ended the day at the campgrounds winery. Well, isn't that convenient for us. The power was out so we were able to have our tasting by candle light.
We had a really pretty sunset when we were staying at the Carlyle Reservoir in Illinois along with this guy.
It was a very nice stay at the park.
We took some time looking around the campground at Hartford, Kentucky. This is the county park and has space for a lot of outdoor activities like biking, tennis, basketball, volleyball, baseball, along with the fair grounds.
They also have a reconstruction of the fort that was in the area when this was the wild west of our country.
Time to head north. We will pass through a very small amount of Indiana as we head to Illinois to camp. We had a couple of surprises along the way. First was an amazing bridge.
Next we passed a power plant. This is the closest we have driven passed a nuclear plant.
To get an idea how big the cooling towers are look at the bottom of the close up. That white truck is a semi.
Last was a sign that was very different from others we had seen on highways.
Standing! Really on the interstate. Ok I guess.
We have fireflies at the RV park where we are staying.
It is great seeing them again.
I think it has been at least 10 years since the last time we saw fireflies.
We decided to go into town for lunch and it was also a brewery. It was very nice and they had a large selection of of beer for Shawna to try. The lunch was great.
Many of the buildings downtown are very old and have interesting histories.
After window shopping, we decided to head home.
Today, we visited the Lux Row Distillery. The business has had several names over the years and has just recently opened at the current location so all the buildings are new even though some of the barrels were filled years earlier. It was a rainy day but cleared up.
The tour was very informative and our tour guide was great!
The tour was different from the others in that we were able to see barrels being filled and sealed. I turned just in time but just barely. It takes longer than you might think to fill a barrel.
Time for us to see the rick house. They have a different setup to allow a better view of the number of barrels.
The "Angels Share" is the amount that evaporates over the years of aging. We could see some leaking from some of the barrels. The barrels are 53 gallons each but depending on aging less than 50 gallons of bourbon will be extracted. The smell in a rick house is AMAZING!
Some businesses and even individuals will purchase an entire barrel for themselves. They are given samples each year until they are happy with the results.
Time for our tasting.
On our way back to the RV, we stopped downtown to walk around. We ended up at the Bourbon Museum. The building is old. It was used as a boys school before the civil war and then as a hospital during the war.
The museum was donated by the Oscar Getz family and included his rare bourbon collection. Items as old as 200 years are in the museum. An entire floor is dedicated to the history of Bourbon and Liquor in general.
This includes a still used by George Washington. I love small town museums. The still is not separated by a glass wall or any other restrictions. Yes, I touched the still.
The whiskey and bourbon bottle collection was extensive. Many of the bottles were very old.
I found out something. It seems that the term we use as Booze is actually from a persons name. I am actually surprised I did not know already.
They have a display on Prohibition.
A few items from speakeasys and bootleggers.
I was not aware of the significance of this display until I read the info card.
There was a large collection to honor the current producers.
As we were about to leave, the curator warned us that it looked like it was about to rain. She was right and before we got to our first cover at a closed bakery, we were soaked. When it let up, we decided to head home to dry off.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...