COMING LABOR DAY WEEKEND! The third annual Big River Steampunk Festival will again be held in historic downtown Hannibal!

The Big River Steampunk Festival features fantastic events, fun contests and amazing performances that take place throughout historic downtown Hannibal! Put on your "Steam Persona" and relive the days of steamboats, steam trains, and the romance of the Victorian era along the western shore of the mighty Mississippi River.

Reimagine history and immerse yourself in a true Victorian setting as you stroll down Hannibal's Historic Main Street in Costume and Cosplay, recalling the golden years of Hannibal during the era of the Gilded Age -- a term coined by none other than Hannibal's own Mark Twain!

Admission to the Big River Steampunk Festival is FREE TO ALL and many of the events, contests and performances are FREE and open to the public, including The Great Midway featuring more than fifty Steampunk merchants from around the country!  Premium Event tickets for STEAMAPALOOZA Riverfront Outdoor Concert, Hot Air Balloon Rides, Time Traveler's Ball aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sophie Tucker's Clockwork Cabaret, The Burley-Que and other exciting events may also be purchased online via PayPal on our website:

Museum Featured on PBS "Illinois Stories"

Hannibal History Museum was proud to be featured on the Emmy-award winning PBS show "Illinois Stories" hosted by Mark McDonald -- this episode aired January, 2015

2014 Year In Review -- Hannibal History Museum

Friends, we've produced this video featuring our accomplishments in 2014 -- promoting Hannibal's history and tourism, providing education and entertainment, and having a doggone good time! Won't you please join the fun and help us continue our mission in 2015? Simply click the "Donate" button to the left to contribute via PayPal -- all donations are tax-deductible. Together we can make history! Thank you!!!

Why Local History Matters (for Hannibal)

   In the December issue of Hannibal Magazine, we wrote an article concerning the potential future of vacant historic buildings in our downtown area, and how supporting a historic district or maintaining local history can provide real benefits to a town whose interest to the outside world is its heritage.  Thanks to publisher Rich Heiser, we are able to post the article in full below....

(By Ken and Lisa Marks)
    Recently, the building formerly known as the Murphy’s Motors building on North Main Street has been purchased by the City of Hannibal. One of the prospective plans being considered for the property is to raze the structure and create a space meant to augment several festivals held downtown each year. One problem: the over-130-year old building happens to be part of the Mark Twain Historic District and does not show signs of immediate distress. Moreover, acre after acre of underutilized open space exists just on the opposite side of the downtown levy wall that could be used for additional festival space. The concern that demolition of a building considered by many to be ‘historic’ in a part of town venerated for its historical content begs the question: why should local history matter to Hannibalians?
A view of North Main Street looking south from Holiday's Hill (now Cardiff Hill), c. 1900-1910; what eventually became known as the Murphy's Motors building is in the left foreground below as a wagon factory. Photo courtesy Steve Chou.
Hannibal’s history is more than its past – it is what sets the town apart from most other small communities. 

     If a small town is like an extended family, then history is its version of genealogy, a lineage that answers the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of Hannibal’s development.  Thanks to so many local resources, from the Missouri Room in the Hannibal Free Public Library and the volumes of information chronicled by Roberta and J. Hurley Hagood to the ephemera and photographic archives of Steve Chou, access to pieces of the past are more available in Hannibal than in most communities of similar size.  The trick is to synthesize these materials into a cohesive narrative that is accessible to all and representative of the town’s character; without this, all of these elements can be seen separately as trivial or nostalgic, rather than taken as a whole as the living DNA of today’s Hannibal.

     In other words, what we look like today as a community is not our full identity. Though our economy has suffered in the past few decades, for many years throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Hannibal was surprisingly strong in manufacturing. While most Mississippi river towns were known for one major industry in their past, Hannibal experienced industrial ‘booms’ repeatedly throughout its history. Initially, the steamboat trade brought commerce to Hannibal’s shore. Next, Hannibal became a major railroad hub; these railroads facilitated the massive lumber firms of the Reconstruction years that brought great wealth and prosperity. By the end of the 1920s, mostly because of the International Shoe Company and related industries, Hannibal had the fourth largest industrial base in Missouri despite having a population in the low-20,000s. For decades, Hannibal managed to overachieve in spite of its population, a small city that accomplished big things. To be aware of what those who came before us were able to accomplish can inspire today’s Hannibalians to strive to achieve the same level of civic progress.


The Hannibal History Museum is interested in artifacts, documents, photographs, furniture, clothing and other items related to Hannibal. We are eager to display your items either as a temporary loan to the museum, or you may donate your items (all donations are tax-deductible!). PHOTOGRAPHS and PAPER ITEMS may be brought in for us to digitally scan, then you can keep the originals! For more information on how you can be a part of the Hannibal History Museum, contact Ken at (573) 248-1819 or stop by the Museum, we'd love to hear from you!