Traveling with Twain

In Search of America's Identity

Elmira, NY

Mark Twain at Wikimedia Commons

Mark Twain writes in his Quarry Farm gazebo, probaby during the summer of 1874.

Mark Twain first went to Elmira, an industrial city in a dairy-farming area of the Finger Lakes District of western New York, in 1868 to woo Olivia Langdon, daughter of Jervis Langdon, coal-industry baron and wealthiest man in town. Twain and Olivia married in 1870, settling in Hartford, Conn. But Twain wrote many of his most important books—Huckleberry Finn, Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Life on the Mississippi—during summer family visits to his sister-in-law’s Quarry Farm in Elmira. Twain wrote in a gazebo—12 feet across, with eight sides and a large window on most sides—that looked a bit like the pilot house of a riverboat. The elevated view of the Chemung River Valley, he said, “commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills.” The Quarry Farm house is now owned by Elmira College, which houses the Center for Mark Twain Studies. Langdon and Twain family members, including Mark Twain, are buried in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

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Posts from Elmira, NY

Twain and the Elmira Correctional Facility

Follow our tour of the Elmira Correctional Facility with Superintendent Paul Chappius and Deputy Superintendent Steve Wenderlich. During his Elmira years, Twain tested his lectures on prisoners. Video by Dan

Elmira Correctional Facility advocates “relaxed control” of inmates

On a sunny day, the placement of the Elmira Correctional Facility seems inappropriate for a maximum security prison. If you make it to the top of several very steep flights of stairs, you’re rewarded with several … Read more >>

The view from Quarry Farm

After Jervis Langdon died in 1870, his eldest daughter, Susan Langdon Crane, inherited the vacation home nestled in the hills of Elmira, Ny. Crane’s famous brother-in-law, Mark Twain, would spend his summers at Quarry Farm for … Read more >>

Knowing your place

On our first night in Elmira, Ny., we stayed at a bed and breakfast called the Painted Lady. The rooms were Twain-themed because Samuel Clemens had spent a significant portion of his life in Elmira, where … Read more >>

Two Elmira residents worthy of museums

Elmira, Ny.—a rust-belt railroad and manufacturing town of 29,200 that has lost 40 percent of its population since 1950—promotes itself as Mark Twain Country. Home to Twain’s burial site and the Quarry Farm study where he … Read more >>