Mark Twain Museum, Nevada

We were walking along the cover wooden sidewalks of the Wild West and entering each interesting stores we came across. Telling Hai to pose to anything that looks and interesting and finally I was surprise to find a famous person’s museum here. Across the street from us was the Mark Twain Museum and I thought he lived in the South states of the country. Exploring that particular came over me and I ask Hai that we should go and check it out. Without any complain he agreed and we crossed the street.

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The museum

Just like any of the old buildings in the city a 19th century commercial building, the only difference was the big sign on the side wall advertising the museum. We pay the $5 fee per person and went in. There were also a couple of people looking around. Most of the exhibits were the furniture from the time the building was a printing press. Here is the history of the building to get a better insight to what it was before.

 

“This brick building was built in 1876 as the third and final office of Nevada’s first newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise. The Enterprise was established as a weekly paper in Genoa, Nevada, in 1858 and published in Virginia City beginning in 1860. An example of vernacular 19th-century commercial style, the building was constructed with a high decorative parapet and a cast-iron storefront with fluted Tuscan pilasters. The first steam-activated press in Nevada was installed in the building at the time of its construction.

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Welcome Sign


The Enterprise was known for the flamboyant style of journalism developed in its earlier years by such writers as Mark Twain and Dan DeQuille. While reporting on the Nevada constitutional convention for the Enterprise, Samuel Clemens began using his penname Mark Twain. During his time with the paper, Twain gathered material for his stories and books from the colorful characters and activities of the Comstock. William Sharon of the Bank of California purchased the paper in 1874 for an estimated $500,000 in order to silence the paper’s criticism of him.

The paper suspended publication in 1893, but was revived in 1895 when the first Linotype west of the Mississippi was installed. It shut down again in 1916, only to be revived again in 1952 by Charles Clegg and Lucius Beebe, both New York journalists and prominent historians of the West. The present porch was constructed by Beebe and Clegg using cast iron pillars from an adjacent derelict building.”

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Portrait in Mark Twain’s desk

Most of the attractions were the things that Mark Twain actually used and it was fun to see that they have signs to point which ones. Most of the collections were the printing machines and documents related to the Territorial Enterprise. Here is abrief information about a table the famous author used.

“This table was not only a working table, but as well, a gathering spot. This table was the center of operations for the Territorial Enterprise Newspaper. Meals were eaten at this table, most writing was done here, meetings, reprimands, cultural discussions. You name it it happened at this table. Many a reporter, printer, clerk, even the 24 hour cook, slept on this table. Yes, Mark Twain slept here too.”

Those witty lines while giving us some information were plenty in the museum. They make it more exciting or funny to the readers. There was a historical marker next to the table with this information.

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Territorial Enterprise

“Mark Twain – 100 years ago, in 1864, Samuel Clemens left the Territorial Enterprise, moving on to California and world-wide fame. He was a reporter here in 1863 when he first used the name, Mark Twain, He later described his colorful adventures in Nevada in “Roughing It.”  To get to know the writer himself, he is a brief history about himself and the years he spent on Nevada.

Mark Twain

“The name Mark Twain is a pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Clemens was an American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). A gifted raconteur, distinctive humorist, and irascible moralist, he transcended the apparent limitations of his origins to become a popular public figure and one of America’s best and most beloved writers.

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Mark Twain

But before all those fame is his life after the Civil War heading west. Clemens’s own political sympathies during the war are obscure. It is known at any rate that Orion Clemens was deeply involved in Republican Party politics and in Abraham Lincoln’s campaign for the U.S. presidency, and it was as a reward for those efforts that he was appointed territorial secretary of Nevada. Upon their arrival in Carson City, the territorial capital, Sam Clemens’s association with Orion did not provide him the sort of livelihood he might have supposed, and, once again, he had to shift for himself—mining and investing in timber and silver and gold stocks, oftentimes “prospectively rich,” but that was all.

 

Clemens submitted several letters to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, and these attracted the attention of the editor, Joseph Goodman, who offered him a salaried job as a reporter. He was again embarked on an apprenticeship, in the hearty company of a group of writers sometimes called the Sagebrush Bohemians, and again he succeeded.

 

The Nevada Territory was a rambunctious and violent place during the boom years of the Comstock Lode, from its discovery in 1859 to its peak production in the late 1870s. Nearby Virginia City was known for its gambling and dance halls, its breweries and whiskey mills, its murders, riots, and political corruption. Years later Twain recalled the town in a public lecture: “It was no place for a Presbyterian,” he said. Then, after a thoughtful pause, he added, “And I did not remain one very long.” Nevertheless, he seems to have retained something of his moral integrity. He was often indignant and prone to expose fraud and corruption when he found them. This was a dangerous indulgence, for violent retribution was not uncommon.

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In February 1863 Clemens covered the legislative session in Carson City and wrote three letters for the Enterprise. He signed them “Mark Twain.” Apparently the mis-transcription of a telegram misled Clemens to believe that the pilot Isaiah Sellers had died and that his cognomen was up for grabs. Clemens seized it. (See Researcher’s Note: Origins of the name Mark Twain.) It would be several years before this pen name would acquire the firmness of a full-fledged literary persona, however. In the meantime, he was discovering by degrees what it meant to be a “literary person.”

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Mining Comstock

Already he was acquiring a reputation outside the territory. Some of his articles and sketches had appeared in New York papers, and he became the Nevada correspondent for the San Francisco Morning Call. In 1864, after challenging the editor of a rival newspaper to a duel and then fearing the legal consequences for this indiscretion, he left Virginia City for San Francisco and became a full-time reporter for the Call.”

We ended the tour were we started after taking some pictures and reading some of the signs and information me and Hai went to continue walking under the heat of the Nevada sun. Leaving that building I felt a little accomplished because I visited one of the places of the one whose stories influence my childhood and being a bookworm I enjoyed my visit to Mark Twain’s former employer.

Here are the links for more information:

http://www.history.com/topics/mark-twain

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/nevada/ter.htm

2014-03-23 (187)
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