Located at the southern tip of Illinois is where the Ohio River joins the Mississippi River. Sam Clemens first saw Cairo in 1857, on his first long steamboat trip and he frequently stopped here while piloting steamboats on the Lower Mississippi. Cairo is an important location in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, although the story characters never reach it, but miss it in the fog and continue down the Mississippi..
Twain's last visit to Cairo was in 1882, described in Life On the Mississippi.
Cairo is a brisk town now; and is substantially built, and has a city look about it which is in noticeable contrast to its former estate, as per Mr. Dickens's portrait of it. However, it was already building with bricks when I had seen it last—which was when Colonel (now General) Grant was drilling his first command there. Uncle Mumford says the libraries and Sunday-schools have done a good work in Cairo, as well as the brick masons. Cairo has a heavy railroad and river trade, and her situation at the junction of the two great rivers is so advantageous that she cannot well help prospering.