A river runs through it

  • By Kelly Wilson
  • 23 Feb, 2017

Next generation of cruise ships keeps Hannibal riverfront busy

It would be difficult to over-estimate the impact of the first commercial steamboat churning its way upstream past Hannibal around 1825; the few residents who would have seen this landmark event might have thought it a sign that their world was about to change forever. Even today, that sense of wonder exists for those who come to the riverfront to find a 3- to 5-story vessel docked at the western bank of the Mississippi, like a floating hotel.  

Just as the establishment of a national highway network and safer, faster, more comfortable cars and trucks enabled the population of cities to spread into suburbs and “exurbs,” the steamboats allowed the opening of the upper Mississippi to be more accessible to trade – leading to more jobs and settlements to the north of St. Louis. Before the use of steam engines, travel north of the Missouri River confluence would have been challenging, since the river depths are much shallower and it is prone to freezing over in winter.

A packet — or   transport — riverboat, eased trade between St. Louis and destinations north such as lead-mining giant Galena, Ill. Moses Bates, who was   pivotal in the founding of Hannibal and Galena, used Hannibal as a stopover point; it did not hurt that the region provided raw materials such as limestone, salt and other minerals to make it a profitable port. Packet boats were not restricted to supplies, rather they tended to carry just about anything necessary for life along and off the river – building materials, livestock, people, household goods, etc.

Steam power

Steamboats made the process of transport and settlement faster, which caused a growth spurt along the river. By the 1850s, accounts peg the number of ship dockings in Hannibal at greater than 1,000 annually. Railroad expansion would take some business away from the river, but not until well after the end of the Civil War. By the end of the 1800s, the rails would claim more of the passenger trade as fares would become more affordable, yet “excursion” boats remained an option into the mid-20th century.  

The decline of riverboat cruises along the upper Mississippi for years could not be pegged to just one factor: aging vessels too expensive to repair and economic recessions pushing down demand did not help the business, either. The resurgence of cruises that include Hannibal as an attraction began in 2012, and the forces behind this are a bit more clear. First, heritage tourism is booming. This tourism is based on a love of history more than simple amusement, such as traveling the Mississippi to understand the river itself as well as its role for settlers and traders. Second, Americans can enjoy the luxury of a cruise without having to obtain a passport.   In addition, themed cruises provide an experience not easily matched by other types of travel packages, featuring on-board historians, excursions at different stopovers and suites with views of the landscape.

Here come the cruisers

The American Queen Steamboat Co., whose namesake vessel is the largest steamboat ever built, began running routes in 2012. The American Queen — with a capacity of 435 people — stops six to eight times per year.

This year, the company is introducing a smaller ship named the Grand Duchess, claiming it is the first all-suite paddlewheeler built in the U.S., capable of accommodating 166 guests. The Grand Duchess is scheduled for five stops between late July and late August, with her sister ship visiting twice.  

American Cruise Lines initiated its St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn., routes almost simultaneously. Its Queen of the Mississippi boat, like the new version of the American Queen, was built specifically for use on the Mississippi River. The Queen of the Mississippi is designed to hold 150 passengers, and its brand-new counterpart, the America, can service 185 people. Together, the two are scheduled to make 17 stops from July through October; up from an average of 10 to 12 routes per season.  

A third player in the market will begin its cruises this year: the Louisiana-based French America Line will roll out its 150-capacity all-suite Louisiane ship at the end of June, scheduled to make eight stops through September. This raises the total of projected visits to 32 from 17 in 2016, though anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of scheduled stops may be canceled because of river conditions and other factors.

Nature of the river

The nature of the river north of St. Louis is often what dictates the number and timing of these 8- to 10-day cruises. Shallow depth, a network of 28 lock and dam systems, late season flooding and dredging issues can conspire to make the window for travel much shorter than that of the lower Mississippi, where cruises are possible year-round. Also, demand is higher for the warmer climate of the south, where companies have scheduled twice as many routes as those in the north. Finally, the cost of a cruise may limit the number of visitors: prices per person can range from $2,000 to up to $4,000 for a two-bed suite, and trips from New Orleans to St. Paul can exceed $9,000 for a fortnight.

Who takes these trips? While some tourists from overseas are attracted to the cruise packages, the majority of customers are U.S. citizens more than 50 years of age who are drawn to this type of travel as much as the destination. A 2015 survey of cruise ship travelers shows that roughly 40 percent have taken multiple cruises. The average income for those taking river cruises is more than $100,000 per year. In essence, the type of tourist coming by boat to Hannibal is distinct from the demographics of those who come by other means.

This economic impact of this is not easy to estimate. If the scheduling holds, more than 5,000 visitors will be brought here who may not otherwise have found their way here. Since many dockings are limited to 5 hours or less, spending is somewhat dampened.

The Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with feedback from passengers, has been able to influence the companies enough that at least one trip from each major liner has spent a full day here each of the last two years.  

The cruise market opens Hannibal to a type of tourist not available to every river town, and the publicity and advertising   offered by the companies costs the individual communities nothing.

What about Viking?

One notable omission from the cruise schedule is Viking. One of the biggest and highest quality cruise liner companies in the world, Viking had made headlines in the area in 2014 — though rumors were surfacing before then — that it would begin its own venture onto the Mississippi by 2016, planning 28 stops in Hannibal. Now, the company is hopeful that it can deploy up to six ships, two at a time, by 2018.

The delay is because of a law enacted in 1920 called the Jones Act that requires any ship used to transport people or goods between ports inside the U.S. to have been built in an American shipyard and be entirely American-owned.  

As of late 2016, Viking was still working on a shipyard and fulfilling the other requirements.

More communities are taking advantage of the increased traffic as a way of boosting tourism through the original social network: word of mouth that spreads when travelers head home. 

- By KEN MARKS

Sharron Daniel of Australia poses under the Mark Twain sign at the Hannibal docks. Photo by Michael Kipley

ARRIVALS

AMERICAN QUEEN

July

July 16: 9-day voyage, July 23 to July 31, starts in St. Louis with destination of Red Wing, Minn. Theme is Mark Twain.

July 31: 9-day voyage, July 29 to Aug. 6, starts in St. Louis with destination of Red Wing, Minn. Theme is Mark Twain.

August

Aug. 10: 16-day voyage, Aug. 5 to Aug. 20, starts in Minneapolis with destination of New Orleans. Theme is the Mighty Mississippi.

Aug. 20: 23-day voyage, Aug 13 to Sept. 4, starts in Minneapolis with destination of New Orleans. Theme is the Mighty Mississippi.

September

Sept. 23: 9-day voyage, Sept. 16 to Sept. 24, starts in Minneapolis with destination of Alton, Ill. Theme is Life on the Mississippi.

AMERICAN DUCHESS

July

July 30: 9-day voyage, July 23 to July 31, starts in Minneapolis with destination of St. Louis. Theme is Mark Twain.

August

Aug. 1:   9-day voyage, July 30 to Aug. 7, starts in St. Loius with destination of Red Wing, Minn. Theme is Life on the Mississippi.

Aug. 13: 9-day voyage, Aug. 6 to Aug. 14, starts in Minneapolis with destination of St. Louis. Theme is Life on the Mississippi.

Aug. 16: 9-day voyage, Aug. 13 to Aug. 21, starts in St. Louis with destination of Chicago. Theme is Architecture and the Arts.

Aug. 26: 9-day voyage, Aug. 20 to Aug. 28, starts in Chicago with destination of St. Louis. Theme is Chicago Blues.

QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI

August

Aug. 11: 7-day voyage, Aug. 5 to Aug. 12, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

Aug. 27: 7-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

September

Sept. 8: 7-day voyage, Sept. 2 to Sept. 9, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

October

Oct. 8: 7-day voyage, Oct. 7 to Oct. 14, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

AMERICA

August

Sept. 1: 7-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

September

Sept. 3: 7-day voyage, Sept. 2 to Sept. 9, starts in St. Louis with destination of. Paul, Minn.

Sept.15: 14-day voyage, Sept. 9 to Sept. 23, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of New Orleans.

October

Oct. 4: 7-day voyage, Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

Oct. 16: 7-day voyage, Oct. 10 to Oct. 17, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

Oct. 18: 7-day voyage, Oct. 17 to Oct. 24, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

Oct. 30: 14-day voyage, Oct. 24 to Nov. 7, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of New Orleans.

LOUISIANE

July

July 30: 8-day voyage, July 29 to Aug. 6, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.  

August

Aug. 27: 8-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 3, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.  

October

Oct. 8: 8-day voyage, Oct. 7 to Oct. 15, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.  

Partners

  • Visit Hannibal
View More Partners

UPCOMING EVENTS

Latest Headlines

By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
The Historic Hannibal Marketing Council again will present the Victorian Festival of Christmas, a month-long celebration that will kick off Saturday, Nov. 25, and run through Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24.
Now in its fourth year, the festival celebrates the magic and wonder of Christmas in cozy, decorated, family-owned shops and restaurants. The sounds of carolers strolling the streets, bells from a horse-drawn wagon ride and warm greetings will take you back in time to an authentic and genuine Christmas.

Here is a preview of what you can expect throughout the 2017 Victorian Festival of Christmas:
• Pictures with Santa Claus
• Holiday horse-and-wagon rides
• Magical holiday decorations throughout downtown
• A children’s stocking-decorating contest
• House-decorating contest.

Events
Here is a sampling of events planned for Victorian Festival of Christmas:
• Saturday, Nov. 25: Small Business Saturday and Christmas tree-lighting ceremony
• Saturday, Dec. 2: Jaycees Christmas parade and Hannibal Elementary School Carolers
• Saturday, Dec. 9: Living Windows displays throughout downtown, Babes in Toyland parade and Polar Express.
• Saturday, Dec. 16: Holiday open house and holiday historic homes tour
• Saturday, Dec. 23: Hat parade
Updates and more information about various events and locations are available at historichannibalmo.com/christmas.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Miss Hannibal and Miss Mark Twain scholarship pageants will be 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Hannibal High School Auditorium, 4500 McMasters Ave.

The two pageants are for contestants ages 13 to 24.

Thousands of dollars in scholarships and awards from local colleges and merchants will be presented to young women in the local area. The two winners and two Outstanding Teen winners will go on to compete in the Miss Missouri Pageant in June in Mexico, Mo., with the chance to move on to Miss America — the largest scholarships program for young women.

Jennifer Davis, Miss Missouri and first runner-up to Miss America, also will appear at the December pageants along with the four reigning queens — Miss Hannibal Leah Rawlings, Miss Mark Twain Ashley Monasmith, Hannibal Outstanding Teen Ashley Krueger and Mark Twain Outstanding Teen Kierston Holstine.

Master of ceremonies will be David Almelotti of KHQA TV.

More information is available by calling Barbara Stewart at 573-221-5414 or Rita Nelson at 217-406-9986.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
The holiday season may not be so joyful for those who have lost a family member or close friend.

To help make the holidays a little easier, the James O’Donnell Funeral Home will host its annual Candlelight Memorial
Service at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the home, 302 S. Fifth St. The free service is open to everyone, not just families served by the funeral home.

At the candlelight ceremony, each loved one’s name will be read and the individual will be recognized with a keepsake ornament provided by the funeral home.

The Rev. Mike Quinn of Holy Family Catholic Church, Hannibal, and the Rev. Tim Goodman of Clover Road Christian Church, Hannibal, will lead the service. Clover Road Christian Church will provide music. Reservations may be made by calling 573-221-8188.

More information is available by calling the home at 573-221-8188 or visiting jamesodonnellfuneralhome.com.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Seven-time Emmy Award winner Ed Asner will bring his one-man comedic stage reading to Hannibal in January, courtesy of Bluff City Theater and Hannibal Regional Healthcare System.

Called “A Man and His Prostate,” the play puts a decidedly funny spin on what is in reality a potentially tragic situation.

Written by Asner’s longtime friend and collaborator, Ed Weinberger — nine-time Emmy nominee and winner of the Outstanding Comedy Series award for his work on “Taxi” — this is based on a true story of a man who “discovered his inner self in more ways than one.”

Best known for his masterful portrayal of Lou Grant, first as Mary Tyler Moore’s boss on her eponymous show, then in the dramatic spin-off of his own, “The Lou Grant Show,” Asner has been touring the production across America for over a year with stops on both coasts and many cities in-between.

“That he has chosen America’s Hometown for an exclusive performance speaks volumes about how Hannibal is coming into its own as a significant theater center,” Bluff City Theater Executive Director Joe Anderson said.

Hannibal became the location for the first Missouri performance of “A Man and His Prostate” after Anderson responded to an enquiry from Asner’s daughter and manager, Liza.

“We receive a large number of proposals from writers, performers and producers each year,” Anderson said. “As soon as I received this one, I knew we wanted to book the show. Ed Asner was an icon to my generation and is one of the truly great actors from the Golden Age of TV.

“At age 88, Ed Asner is a remarkable example of how vibrant today’s seniors can be. He delivers this show with a skilled comedic timing that leaves audiences in tears from laughing.

“Obviously, our 90-seat theater was not large enough for a production of this importance so we’re glad that Hannibal High School has a great performing space available to the community. At 810 seats, it’s quite spacious, but still intimate enough for a one-man show to succeed,” Anderson said.

Described by critics as “not just a play, but a public service in a comedy format,” “A Man and His Prostate” takes an unflinchingly serious look at a disease that afflicts nearly a quarter of a million American men every year. That’s what brought Hannibal Regional Health System to the table as a sponsor. Over 27,000 American men die each year from prostate cancer, and it’s a disease that is treatable, even curable, when diagnosed early. Yet, men are often reluctant to admit to, let alone discuss, their symptoms, which delays treatment, sometimes fatally.

According to experts, it’s often the woman in a relationship who recognizes the symptoms and pushes her husband or partner to seek medical advice. A production like this has the ability to open men and women up to talking about the problem, in much the same way other plays have drawn attention to women’s health issues.
The combination of Weinberger’s writing and Asner’s talent makes for 90 minutes of pure enjoyment despite the serious subject.

More information
“A Man and His Prostate,” starring Ed Asner, will be performed Jan. 13 at Hannibal High School Auditorium for one show only at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and range from $25 to $45. For an additional $15, audience members may participate in an after-show meet-and-greet with Asner.

Purchase tickets online at eventshannibal.com or call the box office at 573-719-3226.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Winners of the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department’s Freaky Friday Halloween decorating contest were selected by Hannibal Chamber of Commerce staff.

Here are the results:
• Overall Design: 2715 Chestnut St.
• Scariest: 400 Country Club Drive
• Most Creative: 908 Park Ave.

Winners received a prize donated by FACT — Families and Communities Together — and a yard sign.

Photos of the houses may be seen on the Parks & Recreation Facebook page.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Mary Frances Quinlin has repeatedly turned to Hannibal Regional to provide her with excellent medical care. Why does she continually put her trust in their clinical expertise? For Mary Frances, it’s because she’s been part of their team as a member of the Auxiliary since before St. Elizabeth Hospital and Levering Hospital merged to become what is now known as Hannibal Regional.

“I was a member of Levering Auxiliary, and I got to be part of the development of Hannibal Regional,” Mary Frances said.

“The team at Hannibal Regional is an extension of my family. At Hannibal Regional you’re surrounded by loving and caring people who are great at what they do. There is no reason to leave the area for expert care.”

Not only does Mary Frances choose to receive medical care at Hannibal Regional, she has been a longtime member of

Hannibal Regional Auxiliary, which allows her to support her community.
“Volunteering has blessed my life beyond all measure and has been such a wonderful experience — and still is,” Mary Frances said. “It truly is a good feeling to know you are part of something successful and can take pride in knowing so many goals have been achieved.”

Mary Frances has been a patient at Hannibal Regional Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit and was impressed with the high-quality, compassionate care she received.

“When it was time for me to go home, they gave me a certificate that my caregivers signed with well wishes” says Mary Frances. “It was a sweet gesture and that kind of care is hard to find, but it is the kind of care you find throughout Hannibal Regional.”
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Most coffee and tea lovers own that special cup that makes their first sip on a quiet morning absolutely satisfying.

Meet Naomi Peterson, the Alliance Art Gallery’s December guest artist, who invites everyone into her deep connection between environment, history, culture and beauty through her ceramic cups.

“I am drawn to nostalgic imagery,” she said. As a child growing up in Quincy, Ill., her world revolved around humidity, cicadas, bluegill fish, dogwood blossoms and ginko leaves. Today, she lives in Laramie, Wyo., in a dry desert-like environment with trout, sagebrush and cacti.

“As we go through life many factors influence us,” she said. “We are imprinted by internal and external influences that shape and change us. I am interested in the interactions between people and their environment — how we react and how that relationship has a hand in shaping our perception, personality and culture.”

Indeed, her ceramic cups invite the holder to reflect upon how we view our world and change.

“I’ve looked at the wildlife from Illinois and Wyoming and thought about how those differences make an impact on people,” she said.

She added, “We look back on childhood and remember things that surrounded us that we never really noticed, only to miss them when we move or travel.” In her case, she keenly feels the environmental influences on her life, internal and external, as she transitioned from a John Woods associate degree in green, tree-lined Illinois to the brown and gold mountainous landscape she experienced while working for a bachelor of fine arts degree in Wyoming.

In addition to a geographical transition, in order to graduate, she had to diversify from her preferred medium, painting.

She chose ceramics and never looked back.

“My aim is to integrate painting and drawing more with ceramics. I love the melding of different medias. It gives more personality to the piece.”

True. Just as a symphony needs silence (negative space) between notes, Peterson’s ceramic cups offer a quiet stillness.

The image — whether influenced by Illinois or Wyoming — allows us to hold in our hands a craft, an art, that began centuries before us and will continue centuries after us. A cup, filled with beauty and drink, gently coaxes us into our day.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
At 16, Joe Noonan was too young to understand why the upstairs of the two buildings his parents purchased downtown was laid out the way it was. There were 15 small bedrooms with a steel bed spring in each one, and Noonan wanted to know why.

One day, he saw the elderly neighbor who had lived next-door for decades, and he asked about the rooms and beds.

“The guy laughed and said, ‘Son, that used to be a whore house,’ ” Noonan recalls, chuckling at the memory. “I was like,
‘Oh, I didn’t know.’ So finding that out was interesting.”

That utilization of the current Ole Planters Restaurant, 316 N. Main St., is one of many before Noonan’s parents, John and Betty Noonan, purchased and opened the restaurant in 1976. In the years since, Noonan has come to know the entire history of the building, and he’s adding to that historic narrative by remodeling the upstairs of the restaurant into residential apartment space for his family.

From a general store to restaurant
The building that houses Ole Planters Restaurant was built in 1836 and was originally two separate commercial spaces.

If facing the restaurant, the business on the left was a general store, and the business on the right was a men’s and women’s tailoring shop. The couple who owned the general store also owned the tailoring business, and they lived above both properties.

For several years after those initial businesses shuttered, there were retail stores in the space, and saloons and dance halls occupied it, also.

However, all business in the building halted after the 1973 flood destroyed it and other downtown buildings. The following year, a group of residents concerned about the downtown’s historic preservation formed the Historic Hannibal organization. They purchased 316 N. Main St. and other buildings for $1 and extensively renovated the properties to their original historic appearance.

Family-run for 42 years
In the 1970s, the Noonan family moved from Texas to Missouri to be near Betty’s elderly mother, who lived in Shelbina.

“My father had big parties in Texas, traditional Texas barbecues, gourmet meals, that kind of thing. And he worked as a traveling apparel salesman, so he got recipes from all of these different ladies,” Noonan said. “He was basically the internet of today because he was trading recipes, and then on weekends he worked as a sous chef at the local country club.”

John took those experiences and started Ole Planters Restaurant in 1976, which he named after the former Planters hotel across the street that was torn down in the ’60s.

“We started small and worked our way up. We had this (first) section, then two years later we got this (second adjoining) section,” Noonan explained. “We started as basic as basic can be with two electric home stoves.”

At first when ordering at Ole Planters, customers ordered their meal at a counter, took a number, then their meal was brought out to them. The restaurant switched to table service after being open for about six years. The original menu from those first several years still hangs inside of the restaurant.

After Noonan’s parents died, he and his brother, Jack, took over the business. Today Jack is semiretired from running it, and Joe does all of the cooking, using his parents’ same recipes.

“My mother is the one who taught me to make pies, and I’ve taught my kids how to make them,” Noonan said. “I don’t even have to tell them how much to put in. They just know it. It’s nice to have them involved a little bit.”

One of the things Noonan is pleased to say is that Ole Planters has served a meal to every Democratic president or presidential hopeful since Jimmy Carter — either in the restaurant itself or by taking the dish to their bus.

“The only one we weren’t able to serve was (Barack) Obama, who didn’t come to downtown Hannibal,” he said.

But Noonan’s proudest moments from running the restaurant over the years are when people try the family’s pies.

“The thing I get a kick out of is when someone eats a pie like gooseberry or strawberry rhubarb and they say to me, ‘Thank you. That reminded me of my grandmother,’ ” he said. “Giving them their memory back (of their grandparent’s baking) is something I feel proud about.”

— By Ashley Szatala
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Members of the Mark Twain Chorale are offering an evening of peace and harmony during what can be a chaotic holiday season.

The 57th annual Mark Twain Chorale Christmas Concert will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec . 2, at the Parker Theatre in the Roland Fine Arts Building on the Hannibal-LaGrange University campus.

The chorale is under the direction of Ben Kendall.

Joining the chorale this year will be the Hannibal Area String Orchestra, under the direction of John Ferguson, which will present “Christmas Around the World.”

The evening will finish with the two groups performing together.

The concert is free, and a freewill offering will be accepted.

For information contact, Jim Dewey at 217-242-9220 or jimbacca74@yahoo.com.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
A crisp fall day, along with entertainment and artistry, greeted visitors to the Pumpkin Path at Hannibal’s Nipper Park during the fifth annual Pumpkins in the Park, sponsored by Hannibal Parks & Recreation.

The Pirate Pride singers, a group of fourth- and fifth-grade students from Eugene Field School, performed, led by Teresa Paszkiet.

Prizes were donated by SC Data Center.

Here are winners in the youth category:    
• Spooky: Lilly Houghton, first; Andrew Clark, second; Autumn Seaman, third.
• Artistic: Kameil Crane, first; Tenay Griffith, second; Tyler Clark, third.
• Silly: Camron Story, first; Coleton Hall, second; Amara Coffey, third.

Here are winners in the adult category:
• Spooky: Josephine Crane.
• Artistic: Andrea Altiser.
• Silly: Claudia Nichols.
More Posts
Share by: