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.
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
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.
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.
Sept. 23: 9-day voyage, Sept. 16 to Sept. 24, starts in Minneapolis with destination of Alton, Ill. Theme is Life on the Mississippi.
July 30: 9-day voyage, July 23 to July 31, starts in Minneapolis with destination of St. Louis. Theme is Mark Twain.
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
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.
Sept. 8: 7-day voyage, Sept. 2 to Sept. 9, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.
Oct. 8: 7-day voyage, Oct. 7 to Oct. 14, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.
Sept. 1: 7-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.
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.
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.
July 30: 8-day voyage, July 29 to Aug. 6, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.
Aug. 27: 8-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 3, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.
Oct. 8: 8-day voyage, Oct. 7 to Oct. 15, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.
Welcome to the 2017 Big River Steampunk Festival.
The festival is produced by the board and staff of the Hannibal History Museum Foundation, a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, as a benefit to sustain the Hannibal History Museum.
The festival also is a great way to celebrate the history of Hannibal, Mo., a town that became a main hub of commerce during the Industrial Revolution and was the epitome of the Gilded Age, a term coined by none other than Hannibal’s own Mark Twain.
We are delighted to present this year’s festival. A lot of entertainers are making their debuts in Hannibal, and there are so many fun activities for the whole family including Splendid Teapot Racing, Parasol Dueling and, of course, the highlight of the festival — the costume contests.
Festival activities may be found throughout downtown Hannibal.
Free entertainment will be provided throughout the weekend on the Main Street stage, located in the 200 block of North Main Street. This is where costume contests will be held, and nearby will be Splendid Teapot Racing and other events. Next to the stage is the Big River Steampunk Festival ticket and information booth, where you may purchase tickets for premium events and inquire about festival activities. Also on Main Street will be the cosplay booths with Airship Isabella, Children of Proteus, Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings and This Way to the Egress.
The Great Midway
Located in Kiwanis Park on the riverfront, here you will find 50-plus vendors from around the country selling their Steampunk wares. Seminars and workshops will be held in the park pavilion, and all types of food and beverages will be served here.
There are several other “off-site” locations for events such as the Time Traveler’s Ball on the Mark Twain Riverboat, British Raj Afternoon Tea at the Hannibal Arts Council, Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory at Bluff City Theater, Masquerade! at the Star Theater and more. The full schedule of events will be posted at BigRiverSteampunkFestival.com and also made available in our free 2017 Festival Guide distributed during the festival throughout downtown Hannibal.
While a majority of the events at the Big River Steampunk Festival are free, various premium events require you to purchase a ticket for admission. Please see the schedule of events for more information.
And finally, be sure to frequent the wonderful shops, restaurants, watering holes and museums in historic downtown Hannibal — many have sponsored the Big River Steampunk Festival and all will be open throughout the festival weekend. Please thank them for their support.
Hannibal Regional has been selected by Modern Healthcare as one of the best places to work in health care in 2017.
“Employers in today’s highly regulated health care industry face great challenges in recruiting, engaging and retaining top talent, which is key to quality care and positive patient experiences,” Aurora Aguilar, editor of Modern Healthcare, said. “I commend those organizations that have risen to the occasion and have made the list of best places to work in health care.”
“Hannibal Regional is honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award. This award speaks volumes about the dedicated team members we have at Hannibal Regional and their commitment to working together to guide our community to better. I want to personally congratulate our entire team on this recognition,” said Todd Ahrens, president and CEO of Hannibal Regional Healthcare System.
Now in its 10th year, the award program identifies and recognizes outstanding employers in the health care industry nationwide. Modern Healthcare partners with the Best Companies Group on the assessment process, which includes an extensive employee survey.
“I am beyond proud of Hannibal Regional for being recognized as one of Modern Healthcare’s best places to work in healthcare for 2017. As a team member, I see the ongoing efforts to make us the best place to work, including our team-member pharmacy and actively engaged senior leadership. One of the greatest benefits of Hannibal Regional is our team, or more accurately our work family. We are so blessed to have a team of genuinely good, kind-hearted people who support each other and care for our patients like family,” said Kim Runquist RN, director of ICU.
Hannibal Regional will be honored at the 2017 best places to work awards dinner in September in Las Vegas.
Hannibal Regional serves residents of the Tri-State area from more than 10 locations and includes Hannibal Regional Hospital, Hannibal Regional Medical Group and Hannibal Regional Foundation. Recognized by Healthgrades with a 2016 Outstanding Patient Experience Award, Hannibal Regional is in the top 15 percent in the nation for this category. In addition, Hannibal Regional has also received the 2017 Coronary Intervention Excellence Award, placing it in the top 5 percent in the nation for coronary interventional procedures, and a 2017 Joint Replacement Excellence Award from Healthgrades, which places it among the top 10 percent in the nation for joint replacement procedures. Hannibal Regional Medical Group is a growing multispecialty physician group delivering primary, specialty and express care services at multiple locations in northeast Missouri. For more information on Hannibal Regional, visit hannibalregional.org.
We know the last thing you want to do on the way home from the hospital is make another stop.
Hannibal Regional recently began offering a new service for patients to help eliminate having to do this: the Bedside Medication Delivery Service. As a patient you now have the opportunity to have your new prescriptions filled before leaving the hospital. The hospital pharmacy accepts major prescription insurance cards, including Missouri Medicaid. You will receive a personalized visit with a pharmacist who will explain your new medication and possible side effects and answer questions.
Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Here are patient benefits of the new service:
• Reduced chance of readmission.
• Improved health literacy.
• Improved compliance.
• Corrections or changes to medications can be made before the patent leaves the hospital.
For information on the new service, contact Hannibal Regional Pharmacy directly by calling 573-248-5744.
The Hannibal Arts Council created the Wild and Wacky Art Adventure to provide positive and healthy activities during which parents and children can interact, work side by side, explore creativity and, in some ways, strengthen the sense of family. The event is free, thanks to the sponsorship of local businesses and organizations in partnership with the Hannibal Arts Council.
Each year about 400 children and children-at-heart enjoy the event, which is open to children ages 3 through 12 and families. It will be 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 5, at Hannibal’s Central Park. This year’s theme — Animal Planet — will be packed with projects featuring creatures from around the world.
This year’s projects will include annual favorites Masterpiece T-Shirts, cool animal photo opportunities and Friends of Historic Hannibal’s Box Town in addition to new theme-related projects — painted porcupine, sea turtle clay sculpture, folded-paper slithery snake, hiding-tiger drawing and 3-D whale. In addition, there will be yoga for children with Twisted Juniper Yoga.
For more information on the Wild and Wacky Art Adventure, contact the Hannibal Arts Council at 573-221-6545 or firstname.lastname@example.org, like the Facebook page, or go to the website at hannibalarts.com.
The month of August is designated as Missouri Breastfeeding Month by the Missouri Department of Health. The theme for this year’s celebration is Support Breastfeeding, which showcases the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies.
Hannibal Regional is planning to celebrate our local breastfeeding mothers and babies at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9, with a brunch in the mall area of the hospital.
More than 81 percent of mothers in the United States choose to breastfeed. Mother’s milk is very different from formula. Breast milk contains live cells, growth factors and other substances that regulate the immune-response system. These cells mean milk is a living tissue — like blood — with the ability to influence the development of other tissues in the body. In the early weeks of breastfeeding there are as many white blood cells in milk as there are in blood, working to keep a baby healthy. Breast milk contains many nutrients that are essential for the baby’s health and development and cannot be reproduced. Breastfeeding provides unmatched benefits to both mother and baby.
Hannibal Regional is a designated Milk Depot. This means that mothers with an abundance of breast milk now have a convenient way to donate their milk to other babies in need of breast milk. The Milk Depot has had an overwhelming response with milk donations. To date over 35,100 ounces of milk have been donated by local mothers. The Milk Depot offers an easy way for mothers in the community to give their milk to the most vulnerable preterm and sick infants. This is done at no cost to the donating mother.
Call the Breastfeeding Warmline at 573-406-2122 for more information.
Hannibal Regional Hospital, designated as a Baby-Friendly Hospital, works to assist mothers to meet their goals and successfully breastfeed. One service offered in support of this mission is the support group Honeysuckle Café, which meets twice weekly: Mondays at 5 p.m. and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. The Honeysuckle Café is a place where mothers can enjoy support from other mothers and the expertise of a lactation consultant if needed. The goal is to troubleshoot problems in the early days of nursing and also be a community for support as baby grows. For more information about the Honeysuckle Café group, please call 573-248-5161. You do not need to register to attend, and siblings are welcome. For questions about breastfeeding, please call Hannibal Regional Hospital’s Breastfeeding Warmline at 573-406-2122.
Muddy River Radio is a catch phrase for a troupe of voice actors who breathe life into old radio scripts.
The group began performing last year at Hannibal’s Rialto Theater on Broadway and has relocated to Java Jive, 211 N. Main St.
This year’s remaining shows will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 7; Monday, Aug. 21; and Thursday, Sept. 14
Each of this season’s presentations features episodes from “The Baby Snooks Show,” “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze” and “Gunsmoke” with extra elements of fun and variety.
In addition — to celebrate the solar eclipse anticipated Monday, Aug. 21 — the troupe will present the original Ford Theater broadcast of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” that day at Cave Hollow West Winery at the Mark Twain Cave Complex, 217 Cave Hollow Road.
The presentation will begin at noon inside the winery, and then attendees may step outside to experience the eclipse, which will occur at approximately 1:15 p.m.
The radio play is based on the book by Mark Twain — in the scene, the protagonist, Hank, saves himself by accurately predicting an eclipse.
All shows are free and open to the public; freewill donations are accepted.
Hannibal Aquatic Center was host to high-seas adventure in June when 19 boats participated in a cardboard boat race.
Navigating the waters in boats they created, young skippers and first mates found some of the boats a little more seaworthy — and some sank immediately upon the crew coming aboard.
The race, sponsored by Hannibal Parks and Recreation, came down to the wire, as the fastest boats competed in the last heat.
The winners were as follows:
• First: William Rolsen and Jordyn Schmelzle
• Second: Adyson Ryan-Davis and Chevelle Pope
• Third: Kael Viehmann and Gage Conrad
• First: Prestan Schanbacher and Zane Lomax
• Second: Alex Arthaud and Patrick Arthaud
• Third: Jocelyn Clark and Andrew Clark
• First: Jay Arnold and Calvin Biggs
• Second: Isaiah Fessenden and Hannah Fessenden
• Third: Terner Otten and Ben Schisler
Hannibal Aquatic Center Aquatics Director Jenna McDonald said crew members and observers enjoyed the fun and drama, and the 2018 race has been tentatively scheduled for June 23.
Bear Creek Rendezvous returns Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12 and 13, to the Mark Twain Cave complex, 300 Cave Hollow Road. The annual event commemorates the early 1800s through the explorations of Lewis and Clark.
During that era, mountain men, fur trappers, travelers and Native Americans gathered at specific river banks to display their wares. They bartered, traded and sold and swapped items such as pelts, skins, guns and other weapons and jewelry for commodities including coffee, sugar, whiskey and rum.
The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the country in 1803, and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began exploring a passage from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. Following Lewis and Clark was Manuel Lisa, representing the Missouri Fur Company of St. Louis. Luis was searching for traders to supply the company with skins and pelts — beaver pelts were in high demand to create top hats and other clothing items.
John Jacob Astor, Daniel Boone and the Missouri Fur Company would trade as many as 500,000 muskrat pets and deer and buffalo hides with Native Americans and settlers of the new frontier.
Hunters and trappers worked throughout the winter when pelts were at their thickest, and, therefore, would command a higher trading value. Trading would take place during the summer when river navigation was optimal. This became known as the Rendezvous Era, with traders returning from the days-long events with pelts, plus Indian-crafted jewelry, souvenir animal claws and beads and other ornaments.
The events included games of chance and contests of skill and sport, as well as dancing, feasting, music and campfire storytelling.
The Bear Creek Rendezvous introduces families to the commerce, dress, entertainment, skills and food of the era. It includes an open-air market, story-telling and lie-swapping, authentic food and drinks, demonstrations of activities of the period, children’s games, tribal music with drums and flutes and dancing.
Bear Creek Rendezvous is sponsored by the Tri-State Standing Bear Council, which educates people about tribal history and culture.
Hours are 9 a.m. to dusk Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Omeyocan Dancers will perform at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Kids in Motion and Homebank will sponsor a 5k fun run/walk — Color in Motion — Saturday, Aug. 5.
The event will take on a 1980s theme with music, costumes and more.
The event will begin at 9 a.m. at Admiral Coontz Recreation Center, 301 Warren Barrett Drive, with last-minute registrations and individual warm-ups starting at 8 a.m. The 5K will go through Sodalis Park, and the Kids in Motion participants will be along the route to douse runners in color.
Preregistration is encouraged in order to be guaranteed a T-shirt. Teams and individuals may register online at raceroster.com/12905 or obtain forms at Douglass Community Services, 711 Grand Ave.
Cost is $15 for those through age 12 and $25 for those 13 years old and older. Teams of five or more people receive a $5 discount per person.
Packet pick-up is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, at the recreation center.
A prize will be awarded to the participant with the best ’80’s costume. Recognition will be given to the male and female who finish first. The largest team will not only receive the coveted team trophy, but also will be treated to a home-cooked meal by the Kids in Motion at First Presbyterian Church in Hannibal.
Other event sponsors include The Hannibal Clinic, Scottrade, Hannibal Regional Healthcare System, Inc., Abel Oil Company, Independent’s Service Co., Prestige Realty, O’Donnell Funeral Home, Refreshment Services Pepsi and Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department.
More information is available by calling 573-221-3892, ext. 246, or 573-231-1775.
When we think “art,” we usually consider location: where will I hang it; what table will I place it on — the exception being handcrafted jewelry. We wear what we love. It goes with us, with great joy and pleasure.
The 2nd Saturday Alliance Art Gallery’s guest artist, Erika Wolfe, is bringing what she calls her “Bucket List and Signature Pieces,” along with a selection of earrings, for this special exhibit at the gallery, with an Aug. 12 opening reception.
“I draw everything from scratch. The pieces I am exhibiting come from my bucket list — stones I’ve had for a long time or ones requiring a fairly complicated design. I am 81. I have been doing this for a long time. Some pieces are very exacting and time consuming,” Wolfe said.
The bucket-list stones she talks about range from topaz to a rare silver-and-quartz gem she has owned for more than 25 years.
Wolfe explains: “These pieces express my personal reflection well. They go to my principals. I stress the geometric because I believe it to be a visual force that is easily understood — a kind of universal law that expresses an absolute dimension.” She adds, “My pieces set up a field of tension in which various forces play and interact.”
With a master’s degree in silversmithing from California State University, Wolfe taught high school students until early retirement in 1996. Leaving California for Keokuk, Iowa, brought her closer to her growing family and gave her the opportunity to begin delving into her “mind sketches” — envisioned works melding stone into silver settings. She does no lost-wax casting, preferring to fabricate her pieces exclusively from silver sheet and wire stock. For her, the emphasis is on texture and geometry, using roller printing, fusing and other techniques.
She achieves an incredible balance between stone and setting, neither one
dominating, each perfectly balanced against the other. The resulting beauty becomes art one can wear, with sheer delight.
And her plans for the future?
“This exhibit may be my one last big hurrah. But I’ll keep on working. It is God’s gift,” she says.