Local history is something I always find interesting. A member of our staff has a collection of books on Hannibal, Quincy and Ralls County history, and was kind enough to let me take a look through them. The one I'm reading right now is Hannibal: The Otis Howell Collection by Steve Chou. Not only is the book full of great pictures from the late 1940s through about 1970, but the captions are incredibly informative. Here are a few interesting pieces of information I've picked up from the book.

  1. There was once a cigar factory in Hannibal that produced 70,000 cigars a month!
  2. KHQA's first remote telecast was on January 15, 1954. The station broadcast a basketball game between Hannibal-LaGrange and Moberly Community College. Hannibal won 82-68.
  3. The Lutheran Churches of Marion County held Easter services at the Sky-Hi Drive-in in the 1950s. Worshipers sat in their cars and listened through the drive-in speakers.
  4. In 1961, NASA sent a Mercury space capsule to Hannibal for display during National Tom Sawyer Days. It was set up in the Admiral Coontz Armory. Here's a bonus fact: National Tom Sawyer Days was originally held in August. It was moved to the week of July 4 in 1959.
  5. JC Penney, Gambles, T.G.Y. Variety and Kroger were the four businesses advertised on a sign during construction of the Huck Finn Shopping Center in 1964. JC Penney is still in business in the Huck Finn Shopping Center. Kroger operated until 2012 at the shopping center.

Hannibal: The Otis Howell Collection is part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series. That's the same series that published Ralls County by K. Allen Ballard, which is also very good. These books can be found in local bookstores. I've also seen them on sale at Walgreens, and, of course, they can be ordered online. Not quite as easy to find, but also interesting, are A Pictorial History of Hannibal, MIssouri and Sesquicentennial 1819-1969 Hannibal, Mo.