The last time the national convention was in Hannibal was in 1979.

More than 100 members of the National Cave Association will be arriving in Hannibal for their annual convention on Sept. 18 to 22 at the Quality Inn and Suites, according to Mark Twain Cave owner Linda Coleberd.

“Mark Twain Cave is hosting this annual convention, which is held at a different cave each year,” Coleberd said. The caves represented, “range from very small, (with 30,000 visitors each year) to large caverns that host 400,000 during the course of a year, and it goes nationwide.”

The Mark Twain Cave and Cameron Cave have approximately 60,000 visitors each year, she reported.

The National Cave Association was founded in 1965 by a group of Missouri cave owners, Coleberd said. “We expect about 106 (people) representing approximately 50 caverns.

“Most of these caves are family-owned, so some of the older generation has given way to the younger generations, and they have not been to the Mark Twain Cave or Hannibal, Mo. We will show them the best of Hannibal.

“The staff of the Mark Twain Cave is very excited to host the National Cave Association and considers it quite an honor to showcase our caves and our town.”

The last time the national convention was in Hannibal was in 1979. “Bob and Joan Bogart and my husband, Jim, were owners of the (Mark Twain) Cave and Cameron Cave at that time,” Coleberd added. “Their grandfather, Judge E.T. Cameron, is the one who discovered Cameron Cave in 1925.”

During the convention, Coleberd said, “Tom and Becky will greet them at Mark Twain Cave Monday evening at the opening reception. On Wednesday we will start out at 9 downtown and come out to the cave at 12:30 for lunch and cave tours.

“They will ride the (Mark Twain) Riverboat while they are in town, and tour the museum and all the things downtown, and we will talk about Sodalis (bat) cave.

“The last event is a mystery dinner at Quality Inn on Thursday, and they depart on Friday.”

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.