One Hundred Years Later, Twain Still Dead

Photo: Tim Murphy

Elmira, New York— We don’t stop for long in Elmirajust long enough to confirm our worst fear: As expected, Mark Twain is still dead. There’s an inverse correlation between the health of a city and the number of signs leading to a single, not especially compelling historic marker; in Elmira, where boarded up storefronts seem to be the default in the city’s crumbling downtown (the city’s population has dropped by 40 percent since 1950), all signs point to Twain’s resting place.

Meanwhile, according to a poster at the front entrance, a black bear has been terrorizing joggers in the cemetery in recent weeks. I suppose that’s probably what Twain would have wanted.