Today the country celebrates the memory of Samuel Clemens, more famous as Mark Twain who passed away one hundred years ago on April 21, 1910. He was 75 years old when he passed and was probably the most recognized man in America.
In 1935, the Burlington Railroad decided to honor Twain on the centenial of his birth, with a streamlined trainset to run between Burlington and St. Louis, Missouri. This would include Clemens home town of Hannibal, Missouri
According to the article, “The CB&Q Mark Twain Zephyr” by David Lotz the Gateway Chapter of the NMRA:
“The Chamber of Commerce of Hannibal hosted a luncheon for the railroad officials and guests at the Mark Twain Hotel. A thematic menu provided such items as Life on the Mississippi Cat Fish and Aunt Polly’s New Apple Pie with Cheese – music was provided by the Bates Ensemble. Special guests were Ossip Gabrilowitsch, then conductor of the famed Detroit Symphony Orchestra, his wife Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, daughter of Samuel Clemens and their daughter, Miss Nina Gabrilowitsch.
At 2:00 p.m., October 25th, the coast to coast broadcast over CBS began and so did the dedication ceremonies. The honors of christening the new Mark Twain Zephyr fell to Clemens’ granddaughter, Nina, also the great-granddaughter of John M. Clemens, a key player in the creation of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad in 1846. The famed “Hannibal & St. Joe,” started in Hannibal in 1851 and was completed to St. Joe in 1859, the first railroad to reach the Missouri River, and the first and only railroad to carry the U.S. Mail for transfer to the Pony Express at St. Joseph. This same railroad was one of the earliest predecessors of the railroad that was dedicating it’s new Zephyr in Hannibal that day, the Burlington.
There was an eleven-city competition in which three children dressed to represent Mark Twain’s three most-famous characters Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Becky Thatcher. Trios from Burlington, Ft. Madison, Keokuk, Hannibal, Canton, LaGrange, Quincy, Louisiana, Clarksville, Elsberry and St. Louis were escorts to Miss Gabrilowitsch throughout the day.
The first regular service trip of the Mark Twain was made from Hannibal to St. Louis on Sunday, October 27th. The scheduled trip for the Mark Twain was a round-trip journey from St. Louis to Burlington, however the railroad thought it appropriate to split the schedule for the first day and begin service at Hannibal. The normal schedule began Monday morning, October 28th at St. Louis.”
Some history of the equipment:
The “locomotive” was given the number of 9903 and the name of Injun Joe. The following three cars received other names of Mark Twain characters, such as Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. It was retired by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) and it was purchased by Mr. Frank Dashner of Glenwood, Iowa in June of 1960.
In June of 1962, the train was acquired by Ernie Hays for $6,500 and placed on exhibit at the Midwest Old Thresher Association grounds in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. In 1972, after many years of neglect, the train was sold to Alex Barkett of the Building Leasing Corporation, and moved to Kansas City. After Mr. Barkett died, title transferred to the Civic Plaza National Bank and in September of 1987 the train was moved to the Mid America Car Corporation. In 1984, Dave Stimson a player for the Kansas City Chiefs purchased the equipment. In 1987, the train was sold to John C. Lowe. He and two other individuals have formed the Mark Twain Corporation. Through 2007, the train was in unrestored condition and located in Minooka, Illinois.
On January 24, 2008, it was supposedly moved to Granite City, Illinois for display in a downtown redevelopment effort but was shown by Gateway Rail Services in nearby Madison, Illinois to a group from the 2008 St. Louis Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet in August, 2008.