It turns out that 111 years ago, today (August 9, 1895), none other than
Mark Twain was traveling by Northern Pacific Railroad from Tacoma,
Washington to Portland, Oregon. Sometime in the afternoon, his
conveyance would have passed within sight and sound of the very spot
where I write these words, in Kelso (Lexington), Washington.
Twain will arrive in Portland, 111 years ago, at 8:22 p.m. tonight,
going directly to the Marquam Grand Opera House (on the site of what is
now the Pioneer Courthouse Square) where he will find waiting, a
standing-room-only audience waiting, who he will entertain for one and
one half hours. After his lecture, Twain took late supper with his old
friend Colonel Wood, late of the United States Army, and some two dozen
leading citizens, at the Portland Club.
Of the next morning, Twain's manager, Major J. B. Pond, will write, "It
was not easy to tear ourselves away from Portland so early. The
Oregonian contains one of the best notices that 'Mark' has had. He is
pleased with it, and is very jolly to-day."
On the morning of August 10th, 111 years ago, they will boarded the
11:00 Northern Pacific Railroad train for Olympia. But just before
leaving Portland, Twain will visit with a young, but unidentified,
reporter for The Oregonian, who will write what Twain later called, "the
most accurate and best" interview ever written of him.
Twain will tell that young reporter, 111 years ago tomorrow,
"Well, I haven't had an opportunity to see much of Portland, because,
through the diabolical machinations of Major Pond, over there, I am
compelled to leave it after but a glimpse. I may never see Portland
again, but I liked that glimpse."
That entire interview as it appeared in The Oregonian, exists online at:
These events are part Mark Twain's celebrated Tour Around The World, the
North American leg of which is documented by Twain's tour manager, Major
J. B. Pond, in a journal he kept. Pond's journal available is online
The review which appeared in The Oregonian, also unattributed, appears
on line at: http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/onstage/wrldtr4.html.
Twain lectured in Olympia on the 10th of August, Tacoma on the 12th, and
Seattle on the 13th. In Seattle, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave
Twain a wonderful review.
"Mark Twain Again Proves His Greatness as a Humorist . . . Last night
at the Seattle theater a crowded audience heard him for an hour and a
half with unwearying enjoyment as he gave one of those strange medleys
of humor and philosophy which have so much the sound of a great literary
The other Seattle paper, who's name I won't at the moment recall, missed
the mark, choosing to debate that Twain was merely funny and a top story
teller, but "that his wit is brilliant or his humor suggestive cannot be
Both reviews are both posted at:
http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/onstage/wrldtr7.html. The reader is
advised to quickly scroll down through the review provided by the more
inferior paper, and find the truth of the thing, as was is accurately
reported in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer review.