09/25/2012 10:48 am ET Updated Nov 25, 2012

The Adventures Of The Real Tom Sawyer | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine

On a rainy afternoon in June 1863, Mark Twain was nursing a bad hangover inside Ed Stahle's fashionable Montgomery Street steam rooms, halfway through a two-month visit to San Francisco that would ultimately stretch to three years.

At the baths he played penny ante with Stahle, the proprietor, and Tom Sawyer, the recently appointed customs inspector, volunteer fireman, special policeman and bona fide local hero.