There are at least
eight geological formations in Missouri known as Lover's Leap. One of
these formations is located on the southeast edge of
Hannibal and is a major Mississippi River promontory exposing a cap of Burlington
Limestone, and underlying Hannibal Shale and Louisiana Limestone
formations. These high
bluff promontories inspired local legends involving an Indian maiden who
commits suicide with her lover or jumps to her death to avoid marrying a warrior she
despises. There are several possible sources for Hannibal's local legend
including one that claims it was the work of the imagination of Hannibal newspaperman
Orion Clemens, Mark Twain's older brother. The following is an excerpt
from "History Of Marion County" by E. F. Perkins in 1884:
Leap" is a large bluff in the southern part of Hannibal. It was given
this name about 1840, by some genius who applied to it the scene of the oft
repeated story of the Indian Maiden who dashed herself down from a rock
precipice rather than wed a warrior she did not love.
Winona, Minnesota, to the mouth of the Ohio there are not less than a dozen
"Lover's Leaps" and "Maiden Rocks," all with the same
legend, and each with the same claim to being the only genuine
"Leap"--all others being mere imitations and
deceptions--"beware of counterfeits."
Hannibal "Lover's Leap" has just as good claim to the distinction
of being the locality where the dusty maiden distributed herself along the
sides and among the rock at the base, as any other bluff or declivity. Since
the whole story is an invention of a romantist and he who is deceived
thereby is not wise---an Indian girl marries the "buck" selected
for her by her father, and is indifferent about the matter altogether.
she remonstrate at the selection made for her, a few applications of a
rawhide or a keen hickory switch, applied to her bare back soon overcome her
with the legends of lovers leaping to their deaths, there is a documented
story of the use of Hannibal's Lover's Leap by the Millerites. Millerites were the
followers of the American Baptist preacher William Miller who prophesied the
Second Coming of Christ. Miller's third prediction of the date of Christ's
return was October 22, 1844 and on this day Millerites in the Hannibal area
abandoned their crops and stores, put on long white robes, and gathered at
Lover's Leap only to be ultimately disappointed.
Leap is a 5-acre of city park directly off MO- 79. The park includes a
picnic shelter, benches, and historical information. Visitors will find
panoramic views of Hannibal, the Mississippi River (photo left,) and miles of Illinois
farmland. The stone cliff is fenced off to prevent modern lovers or others
Visiting Lover's Leap Park
There is no charge to visit Lover's Leap
Leap is located directly off of MO-79 (the Great River Road) approximately 1
mile south of downtown Hannibal.
Learn more about the
Official site of Hannibal Parks and Recreation.