A Little Hannibal History
Founded in 1819 by Moses D. Bates, the river town soon flourished as a principal docking port for steamboats, flatboats, and packet steamers traveling the upper Mississippi. By 1845, Hannibal had achieved city status and by 1860, the population had more than doubled, making it the second largest city and third commercial center in Missouri.
Early industries that greatly influenced the city's growth included pork packing, soap and candle making, coopering, milling of lumber, and railroad industries diminished, other Hannibal business ventures took their place, including shoe manufacturing, button making, and cement production.
The city is proud of its long list of well-known sons and daughters including William Lear, designer of the Lear jet; Congressman William Henry Hatch; Navy Admiral Robert E. Coontz; sculptor John Rogers; Margaret Tobin, the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown; composer Egbert Van Alstyne; and artist Carroll Beckwith. Hannibal's most famous son is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known worldwide by his pen name, Mark Twain. At the age of four, Sam's family moved to Hannibal from his birthplace in Florida, Missouri, about thirty miles to the southwest. Many of the popular characters featured in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and other beloved works, were based upon people Sam had known while growing up in Hannibal.
Today, we have more parks per citizen than most towns in the Midwest, and our trail system is growing yearly. Hannibal is a wonderful place to hike, or bike. Boaters will find easy access to the Mississippi, as well as local lakes. Hannibal has grown into a thriving haven for artisans, and is included in the famous 50 Miles of Art. 50 Miles of Art includes a scenic drive on Highway 79 and focuses on the growing art communities of Hannibal, Louisiana and Clarksville. Hannibal is home to numerous world-class artists and craftsmen. Each year there are two studio tours (one in the Spring, and one in the Fall) that highlight artists and their studios.
If you like history, you'll love Hannibal. It's rich history comes to life when you walk the streets of downtown, or take a walking tour of Hannibal's beautiful historic homes. Start at the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Center for more information on walking tours.
Hannibal boasts a diverse industrial economy that includes the production of agricultural chemicals, food products, rubber and plastic products, electrical and automotive equipment, and various other manufactured goods. The many businesses in Hannibal provide friendly service, with a strong work ethic. You'll find wonderful and uniqe shops that are found only in Hannibal.
No matter what you choose to do you will find our town of nearly 18,000 very accommodating. I'm sure you will agree that Hannibal is a magical experience for individuals and families alike.