Citizens Rally Behind Amtrak Plan in Hannibal, Mo.

Local residents and businesses want to ride the rails from Chicago to their hometown of Hannibal, Mo. — the birthplace of Mark Twain — the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau (HCVB) reported this month.

On Nov. 1, the City of Hannibal unveiled a "Train to Twain" campaign designed to convince Amtrak, the taxpayer-supported rail system run by the federal government since 1971, to extend to Hannibal its current service from Chicago to Quincy, Ill. — and maybe eventually St. Louis.

In support of its effort, the city has collected 2,000 signatures and launched a fundraising campaign designed to raise $3,000 to $5,000 from businesses, foundations and residents for the purpose of conducting a feasibility study, which is required to secure public financing for such projects.

"The business owners and residents of Hannibal have taken this effort and run with it, collecting over 2,000 signatures in 10 days," said HCVB Executive Director Beau Hicks.

Added State Sen. Wes Shoemyer, who has voiced his support of the "Train to Twain" campaign, "I am impressed at the momentum that this project has gotten in such a short time and I am here to pledge to you that I will work with [the Missouri Department of Transportation] to secure the matching funds needed to take advantage of federal dollars available for extension of Amtrak service across the river and into Hannibal and perhaps beyond to St. Louis."

To help it raise funds and support for the Amtrak extension, which it says will help the city attract visitors and tourists, HCVB is developing a dedicated "Train to Twain" website: TrainToTwain.com.