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RISMEDIA, October 29, 2010—(MCT)—This year marks the 175th anniversary of the birth and the 100th anniversary of the passing of Samuel Clemens, best known by his pen name, Mark Twain. Find out more about the intrepid traveler and colorful storyteller who created some of America’s most beloved literary characters by visiting the following locations that played an important part in Twain’s life.

1. Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum, Hannibal, Mo. A national historic landmark, this eight-building complex provides a wonderful overview of the author’s life and work for family members of all ages. Learn about the real-life folks who inspired Twain’s characters and of the writer’s early adventures on the Mississippi River that would later inform so much of his writing. See Becky Thatcher’s house, the famous whitewashed fence and the museum building, which includes interactive displays that bring famous literary scenes to life.
Contact: 573-221-9010; www.marktwainmuseum.org.

2. Mark Twain State Park, Florida, Mo. See the cabin where the author came into the world as well as a manuscript of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in the historic site’s museum. Then spend time hiking, fishing and picnicking within the 2,700-acre park in northeastern Missouri. Nearby is the 18,000-acre Mark Twain Lake, where you and the kids can fish, swim or explore as the author’s characters might have done. Contact: 1-800-334-6946; www.mostateparks.com/twainsite.htm.

3. Mark Twain Riverboat, Hannibal, Mo. Samuel Clemens chose his pen name after navigating the Mississippi aboard a riverboat. The term “mark twain” means there are two fathoms of water under a boat; it was used to indicate safe passage. Turn back the clock and imagine what Twain might have been thinking and feeling as you enjoy a one-hour dinner cruise. While on board, you’ll learn about the legends and history that inspired Twain. Contact: 573-221-3222; www.marktwainriverboat.com.

4. Elmira, N.Y. It’s said that author Rudyard Kipling traveled from India to see the small New York town where Twain wrote many of his famous books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Life on the Mississippi. It was here that Twain met and married Olivia Langdon. The couple spent more than 20 summers at the 250-acre Quarry Farm. There, the storyteller wrote in a study on a hilltop overlooking the Chemung River Valley. Today, visitors can see that building on the Elmira College campus as well as other Twain-related landmarks throughout the area. Mark Twain Travel, a local agency, will put together a custom tour for families interested in learning more. Contact: www.marktwaincountry.com, 1-800-627-5892 or 607-734-4131; www.marktwaintravel.com.

5. Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford, Conn. This three-story, 25-room example of picturesque Gothic architecture was a favorite project of Twain’s wife, Livy, and served as the family home from 1874 through 1891. Take guided tours through the glass conservatory, a billiard room and the study where the author worked. Special exhibits, including a tribute to Huck Finn, are under way during this celebratory year. Contact: 860-247-0998; www.marktwainhouse.org.

(c) 2010, The Dallas Morning News.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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