It's a Hannibal tradition that I can personally confirm goes back at least a half-century ... the Mark Twain Avenue gas wars.

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As of mid-afternoon Monday, the price of a gallon of unleaded gas at Big River Oil on Mark Twain Avenue in Hannibal was $2.29.

A check of gasbuddy.com shows the four cheapest places to buy gas in the state of Missouri are ... you guessed it ... on Hannibal's Avenue of Cheap Gas.

By the way, the next cheapest gas in Missouri, according to Gas Buddy, is $2.62 in Springfield.

Never was the old marketing axiom that competition is good for the customer more true than along that half-mile stretch of the north end of Missouri Highway 79.

Even when those five gas stations aren't in "gas war" mode, you still have to keep in mind that, when you're traveling that stretch, the price on the sign is NOT the same as the price on the pump. Usually, the difference is about a dime. Once in a while, one of the stations (if you know Hannibal, you know which one) will drop prices a few cents a gallon more than that.

That's when the battle lines are drawn.

If you're as old as I am, you remember in the late 60s and early 70s that a gas war in Hannibal meant prices as low as 19 cents a gallon.

The gas war prices this time around aren't nearly that good, but they will do.

Ain't competition great.

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