New owners say Sawyer’s Creek will ready for family fun again next year


Todd Curry, left, and Austin Curry recently bought Sawyer's Creek along Missouri 79. The Currys plan to have the 18-hole miniature golf and bumper boats ready to go by next summer. | Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, MO. – Sawyer’s Creek, a once popular spot for Hannibal families along Missouri 79 beside the riverfront, is expected to be reopened next year. 

The new owners, father and son duo Todd and Austin Curry of Quincy, recently bought the park, which closed in 2020 during the pandemic. It reopened for a short time in 2021 before closing permanently.

The Currys also are the owners of the Mark Twain Cave complex, which is directly across the highway.

Todd Curry said the existing attractions at the park made it a perfect addition to their campground. The Currys plan to have the 18-hole miniature golf and bumper boats ready to go by next summer.

They are still planning what to do with the other elements of the park, such as a shooting gallery, a Christmas shop, wine store, shopping mall and the the former Riverview Cafe, the only restaurant in Hannibal featuring an overlook of the river. 

The Currys have restaurant experience, but Todd said running a restaurant along with everything else would not be possible. However, they would not dismiss the idea of a restaurant if approached by an experienced individual.

“Maybe if we found the right person who wanted to wrap their arms around it, we could team up with them,” he said.  

Todd said acquiring Sawyer’s Creek was different from their purchase of the Mark Twain Cave Complex. While the cave tends to draw tourists, Sawyer’s Creek was a hotspot for the local crowd. 

“So this is our first stab at a local attraction. Our tourists will love it, too,” Austin said.

The Hannibal community has voiced excitement and encouragement about the reopening of the park by the way of social media posts and comments, as well as community members approaching them in public. The Currys estimate they have heard more than a thousand childhood stories about Sawyer’s Creek.

Todd said they are humbled by the public outpouring of support and by the confidence the community has in them. 

The Hannibal community first met Todd and Austin Curry in 2015 when they took over the restaurant at the Mark Twain Cave complex. They bought the complex from Linda Coleberd in April 2020.

Since purchasing the Mark Twain Cave, which also includes Cameron Cave, the Currys have renovated and expanded the gift shop and added a large picture window displaying the cave entrance. 

They also brought in the Hannibal Tour Company after buying the Hannibal Trolley Company in March 2021. They now conduct a narrated 50-minute tour of Hannibal scenery and historic locations while hearing about local legends and stories. They also reopened Hannibal Trolley’s downtown gift shop at 220 N. Main, where selections of Missouri wine, souvenirs and tickets for the Hannibal Tour and tours for Mark Twain Cave or Cameron Cave are sold.   

The Currys are learning the Hannibal community has appreciated their hard work at the cave.

“Everybody has seen what we’ve done with the cave. We’ve just put our head down and tried to do the best job we could,” Todd said. “The humbling part is that they trust us to do the same thing over here at Sawyer’s Creek.”

The most popular inquiry they get since buying the park is about the well-being of the Koi fish in the bumper boat area. Many locals recall paying a quarter for a handful of fish food and throwing it into what seemed like hundreds of gaping mouths that surfaced.

Todd is happy to report the fish are still there and doing just fine.

‘There’s history here’

Sometimes dismissed by locals entering Sawyer’s Creek is the light-colored brick home to the left. It’s the home of the John Cameron family. He came to Hannibal with his wife and son in 1865 and established the Cameron Dairy Farm. 

Judge E.T. Cameron purchased the Mark Twain Cave in 1923. One hundred years later, the Currys have reunited the Cameron family land. 

Other remnants of the Cameron Farm still exist at Sawyer’s Creek. The Christmas Shop was once the dairy barn, and the small stone building beside the parking lot was the ice house. 

Todd says the home and ice house were bought through Sears & Roebuck and brought in on the train.

“There’s history here. That is amazing, and we want to preserve that 100 percent,” he said. “There’s a balance of history and business, and we have to figure out what that is.”

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