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Mossback’s Northwest

When Mark Twain Came to Seattle

January 14, 2019

It was a trying time for Seattleites in the summer of 1895. The city was still reeling from the Panic of 1893, which threw the national economy into a tailspin, and the skies were hazy with wildfire smoke. Into this scene stroll Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Reeling from his own financial misfortune, America’s most celebrated author made his only visit to the Pacific Northwest as a part of a worldwide speaking tour intended to raise money to help pay off his debts. In this episode, Knute Berger recalls that memorable trip.



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Knute Berger

Knute Berger is Crosscut’s Mossback. Born and raised in Seattle, he writes with his own Pacific Northwest perspective. He also writes the monthly “Gray Matters” column for Seattle magazine where he is editor-at-large, and is an occasional commentator on KUOW-FM’s “Week in Review.” He is the author of two books: Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice and Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. He was writer-in-residence at the Space Needle and has had a cocktail named after him at Ivar’s. You can email him at knute.berger@crosscut.com or follow him on twitter @KnuteBerger.

More stories by Knute Berger

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is a 25-year veteran of KCTS, producing a wide range of cultural and public affairs series, documentaries and arts programming.  His credits include PIE, Something in the Water  (PBS feature on Seattle’s indie music scene), the gala opening of Benaroya Hall, and documentaries on Asahel and Edward Curtis, Dan Sullivan and Doris Chase.  Seattle-born, Hegg is a graduate of Whitworth University and is also an accomplished violinist and avid cyclist.

More stories by Stephen Hegg