The Mark Twain Cave was rather interesting and I learned about a lot about the author, the history of this cave and caves in general. This is a true "show" cave, where you are invited to touch the walls. It was discovered in 1820, though it had been used by Native Americans long before that. Compared to other caves I've been in (Mammoth, Laurel Caverns, The Lost Sea), it is full of narrow passageways rather than large open rooms. The bats have been chased away long ago, and there is "hard" evidence the Jesse James Gang hid out here. There are reportedly over 250,000 names written on the walls, but that is discouraged now. It was 52 degrees, a little chilly without a sweatshirt which no one thought to bring. It's a limestone cave and dry, meaning the formations have been set for millions of years. It doesn't contain the expected stalactites and stalagmites. It's cool to think of the young kids (Samuel Clemens) exploring it in the 1800's with candles or lanterns. Very amazing more did not get lost as it's quite a complex maze.
Our guide was quite a storyteller and told the story of Tom and Becky getting lost in the cave, eating the birthday cake, which was to have been their wedding cake according to Becky, and finally encountering Injun Joe.
An interesting fact was about the man, Joe Douglas, whom the character of Injun Joe was based on. Apparently, when Clemens was a boy in Hannibal there was baby who had been scalped and left for dead by the Indians in the area and was found and raised by a local family. He had had a bad case of chicken pox or small pox at some point and scratched his face quite badly. Consequently, as an adult, the children of the town were quite frightened of him. As adults the man confronted Clemens and asked why he had been the cast as the bad guy in the book, as he had grown up to lead an upstanding life. Clemens replied, "Well, you scared all the kids to death." Clemens went on to tell the man, his best revenge would be to outlive him, which he did by some 23 years. This man lived to be over 100 years old.
The first picture is one of the formations which was supposed to be impressive. I'm not sure which one now, but it doesn't look that impressive. One was supposed to be of pure onyx, but you couldn't tell it from limestone. The second was taken in the "Parlor" which has natural seating on ledges for at least 20 people.
The last picture is the ubiquitous gift shop with Chris as cave explorer and Betsy as milk carton child. Let's see, the kids got a bull whip, a rock candy sucker, fudge, postcards and a magnet.