“Get the facts first, then you can distort ‘em as you please” – Mark Twain
This is one of my favorite quotes by Hannibal’s favorite son, Mark Twain. It runs across my mind whenever I am working on fending off a half-truth or misconceptions, which are apt to appear from time to time.
This spring was a prime example. Just as the sun sets and the moon rises, as winter gives way to spring, and as your neighbors leaves will invariably blow into your yard, the Mississippi rises in response to spring rains and melting snow.
Again the cries of the “f” word (flood) were raised and calls came pouring in (pun intended) by worried visitors hoping their favorite Hannibal hotspots were not floating among the fishes. The annual reassurance was given, once again, that our fabulous flood wall, the one that withstood the summer flood of 1993 and the high waters in 2008, was standing at the ready should the waters threaten to rise.
While the flood gates were put into the wall for about a week, the water never so much as lapped the base of the wall. Fortunately, the only ‘flooding’ Hannibal had to endure was the flood of news stories about the unpredictable Mississippi.
Our newest debate revolves around … fungus, apparently. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources sent out a press release saying the state was going to close many state caves to prevent the spread of a white-nose fungus that can cause bats to wake up too early from hibernation. Unfortunately, the story has seemingly evolved into an ‘every cave in Missouri is closed’ headline, which tends to cause confusion to the thousands of school children scheduled to go through Hannibal’s two show caves in the coming weeks.
Rest assured, this too shall pass, and our caves are indeed open to the public, with no signs of the fungus in sight. Mark Twain Cave and Cameron Cave, both in the Mark Twain Cave Complex, are open year-round at a lovely constant temperature of 52 degrees.
In this, the Year of Twain, there is no better time to visit Hannibal and enjoy everything our town has to offer. And remember the Twain quote above the next time you hear a story; you might be missing a great adventure simply because of a distortion!