Traveling with Twain

In Search of America's Identity

Twain’s Evolution

Born in pro-slavery Missouri, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) absorbed the racist, nativist views of his community and slave-owning parents. Though he completed his formal education by age twelve he shed his backcountry biases and became more egalitarian as, at age seventeen, he began traveling the breadth of the United States, a world inhabited by Jews, Catholics, free blacks and newly arrived immigrants.

Posts in Twain’s Evolution

Muscatine, Iowa: A site for sunsets, appropriately, on the last day of our 14,063-mile trip

If Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) were to return to Muscatine, Iowa, where he helped brother Orion put out the Journal in the early 1850s, he would find reminders of three fascinating economies in the Mississippi River … Read more >>

Chicago, Second City or second-rate?

As we follow Mark Twain’s path in 1853 north by stagecoach from Springfield, Illinois, I’m reminded of how Twain’s vision of his next stop, Chicago, changed and didn’t change. Twain insisted that a visitor always found … Read more >>

Looking in Seattle for a Dynamited Garage and Finding a Twain-Type Mississippi River Story

Alyssa Karas, Dan Tham and I piled into the backseat of John Ghiglione’s white, 2002 Saturn for the drive to the Seattle home and famous-for-a-day garage of his father, Dr. August J. Ghiglione, who served as … Read more >>

Natalie Sheppard discusses being a black Mormon in the Salt Lake City area

Of all the cities and towns on Mark Twain’s route west that we visited, Salt Lake City honors him least. The city’s magnificent main library, a 240,000-sq.-ft., five-story-tall curved wedge-shaped beauty by Moshe Safdie and other … Read more >>

Remembrances of death as well as life in Unionville

To get to Unionville, Nevada, where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) tried prospecting for silver and gold, we drive south for 17 miles from Interstate 80 along desert-like, brush land marked by yellow “Open Range” road signs, … Read more >>