"A two-fold wildlife goal of Mark Twain National Forest is to maintain viable populations of all species while also affording a medley of activities that will allow humans to enjoy them—everything from hunting and fishing to wildlife viewing and photography." USDA Forest Service
I couldn’t talk about Missouri without mentioning one of our most famous citizens, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka, Mark Twain. His writing had quite an impact in the world of his time and on Missouri.
The name Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, American author and humorist. The pen name itself was taken from riverboat pilot terminology for marking the fathoms of safe water for a riverboat to travel. They used a marked line dropped into to the water. Two fathoms was safe and they would call out, mark twain, meaning marked, two fathoms. The author also claimed the pen name wasn’t entirely his invention, but had been used by Captain Isaiah Sellers who wrote about valuable news about the condition of the Mississippi River.
Riverboats in St. Louis, MissouriClemens explained, “Mark Twain was the nom de plume of one Captain Isaiah Sellers, who used to write river news over it for the New Orleans Picayune. He died in 1869 and as he could no longer need that signature, I laid violent hands upon it without asking permission of the proprietor's remains.”
The interesting thing is Samuel Clemens never came back to live in Missouri once he left the state, at age 26, during the Civil War. At the start of the war he was working the river as a riverboat pilot. Even before training and becoming a river pilot, Clemens wrote articles and humorous sketches for the Hannibal Journal, which was owned by his brother, Orion. After the war began, he followed his brother Orion to Nevada and pulled on that early training to work as a journalist. Clemens traveled not only the country, but all over the world supporting himself largely as a journalist. After he married, he settled in Connecticut.
Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, and when he was 4, his family moved to Hannibal. The town is a port city on the Mississippi and the setting of two of his most famous books, Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was 40 when he penned Tom Sawyer and almost 50 when The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published. It was those stories that had the greatest impact for Missouri and tourism fueling his readers to see the Mississippi and the caves of Missouri. That interest, especially in the caves, contributed to opening our show caves.
|Mark Twain Forest|
Missouri Ozarks has the Mark Twain National Forest, established in 1939, located in 29 counties across southern and central Missouri and encompasses 1.5 million acres. It has an abundance of natural springs. There are 14 floatable streams and 16 lakes (ranging in size from 3 to 440 acres). There are places to camp and numerous trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It’s popular with hunters and trappers, as well as anglers.
Many come to the Mark Twain National Forest to study and photograph wildflowers and wildlife. We have 320 species of birds, 75 species of mammals and 125 species of reptiles and amphibians. Additionally, there are various caves to explore as well being a unique environment to study geology, fossils, and cave inhabitants.
Mark Twain may have been born here. His various writings about the area brought in visitors from around the world. But, the enduring showcase is the wild and beautiful land I call home— Missouri.
|Class IV rafting Missouri|
Photos: Dept Conservation, wiki commons, and personal