Mark Twain

Mark Twain: A Good Riverboat Pilot and a Great Writer…

His real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, but he’s best known by his pen name: Mark Twain. 

Sam Clemons grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which is a town located along the Mississippi River. So, it’s no surprise that as a young boy, Sam dreamed of becoming the captain a riverboat. He accomplished his dream by earning his pilot’s license, and he drove boats for a few years. But eventually he became a writer. Writing became the career that made him famous. He wrote funny stories and serious books. And, many of his stories were about life on the Mississippi.

Young Sam Clemons achieved one big dream (to become a riverboat pilot) and then achieved a different dream that was even bigger. So, don’t stop dreaming…and don’t be afraid to change dreams in mid-stream if you discover something better!

Mark Twain
Bright Ideas

Quotes by Mark Twain

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.” 

“Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

“Give every day the chance to be the most beautiful day of your life.”

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”

“Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

Nifty Fifty

About the Mississippi River

It’s a Fact: Mark Twain (1835-1910) earned his riverboat pilot’s license in 1859 and spent two years on the job before the Civil War halted steamboat traffic on the river.

It’s a Fact: The name Mississippi comes from the Ojibway Indian tribe. Mississippi means “big river” in their language.

It’s a Fact: 10 states border the Mississippi River. They are: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

It’s a Fact: A single drop of water takes about 90 days to flow from Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi River begins, to the Gulf of Mexico, where the river ends.

It’s a Fact: The Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico, which a large body of water that borders several southern states and Mexico.

More Fun Facts
Fun Fact: The mighty Mississippi River is the biggest river in America, but it’s not the longest. The longest river in the U. S. is the Missouri River, which is about 20 miles longer than the Mississippi.

Fun Fact: Mark Twain grew up along the Mississippi River. His lived in a town called Hannibal, Missouri. Today, his boyhood home is a museum. Next time you’re in Hannibal, be sure to drop by!

Fun Fact: When Sam Clemens published a story in 1861, he signed it using the pen name “Mark Twain” which was a riverboat term that meant that the water was at least 12 feet deep. Water that was 12 feet deep was safe for a riverboat to pass through without hitting bottom.

Fun Fact: At its widest point, the Mississippi River is about 7 miles wide.

Fun Fact: At its deepest point, the Mississippi River is about 200 feet deep.

Fun Fact: It takes about three months (90 days) for water that leaves Lake Itasca, the river’s source, to reach the Gulf of Mexico. For most of that journey, the water in the Mississippi River is traveling about as fast as an average person usually walks.

Questions and Answers
Just for fun,
see if you can answer these questions.
Does the Mississippi River empty into the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico?
It empties into the Gulf of Mexico, which is the large body of water that boarders Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Mexico.
About how long does it take water to flow from the beginning of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico? Is it approximately 10 days, 30 days, or 90 days?
It takes about 90 days for water to flow from Lake Itasca (the beginning of the river) to the Gulf of Mexico.
Did the word "Mississippi" come from an American Indian name or was it the name of a famous European explorer?
The word “Mississippi” comes from the Ojibway Indian tribe. Mississippi means “big river” in their language.
Did Mark Twain grow up in Hannibal, Missouri or in Hannibal, Mississippi?
He grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which is a town located on the Mississippi River.
Write Your Own Story

If you have time, you can write a story of your own.

Here are a couple of story ideas you can choose from.

Story Idea #1: You could write a story about the amazing life of Mark Twain.


Story Idea #2: You could write a story about being a riverboat captain (like Mark Twain). What would you see? Do you think it would be scary to drive your boat?

You help you write a great story, we have some timely tips and helpful hints.

Today's Ryder Riddle
Here's a riddle for you:
Why does the Mississippi River see better than the Ohio River?
Because the Mississippi has 4 eyes and the Ohio only has 1.
The Mystery Ryders

For fun-to-read books about a girl detective who homeschools on a train... check out The Mystery Ryders, a series from the creators of the Homeschool Express.

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