For lovers of Hannibal’s favorite son, it was the find of a lifetime.

At a press conference Tuesday, Mark Twain Cave owner Linda Coleberd announced that the signature of Sam Clemens has been found on the wall of Mark Twain Cave.

Coleberd said that, although she and many others had been scanning the walls for the Clemens signature for many years, the discovery came completely by chance during the Clemens Conference in July.

During a tour of cave by Twain scholars, Coleberd and former Museum Executive Director Cindy Lovell (pictured below) were scanning the walls with a flashlight when the signature was found.

TSM Photo

After the signature was found, experts on Clemens and his writings were called in to authenticate the discovery.

There are some 250,000 signatures on the six miles of walls in the cave. Signing the walls has not been allowed since 1979.