Skip to comments.The Sunken Treasures of the Arabia [19th c wreck]
Posted on 09/07/2013 9:48:07 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
In 1987, a group of treasure hunters discovered a steamboat buried deep in a Kansas cornfield. This was the Arabia, a side-wheeler whose hull was pierced by a submerged tree on Sept. 5, 1856, near Parkville, Mo., 6 miles north of Kansas City. The ship, just three years old, had embarked from St. Louis, steaming westward on the Missouri to deliver merchandise to 16 frontier towns. The cargo included 20,000 feet of lumber, 4,000 shoes and boots, two prefab homes destined for Logan, Neb., a sawmill and fixtures, and a case of Otard Dupuy & Co. cognac.
Although the Arabia went down in 15 feet of water, all of its 130 passengers reached shore on the ship's skiff -- the only fatality was a mule tied to the deck. Within days, the Missouri's silt began to engulf the wreck; within weeks the ship had sunk from sight.
...treasure hunters Bob Hawley and his sons David and Greg began to search for the wreck after hearing tales of its sinking. From the Arabia's manifest, which a crewmember gave to a St. Louis newspaper shortly after the sinking, the Hawleys learned the locations the steamboat was to visit, what it was carrying and the names of the merchants awaiting its goods. They then consulted a 19th-century map marking the sites of shipwrecks on the river and zeroed in on a cornfield in Parkville, the location where they thought the Arabia was buried. Over the years, the Missouri had meandered half a mile from where the ship went down and the river's thick silt had turned the site into farmland.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Missouri Steamboat Buried in a Cornfield (interesting bit of history)
Meridian Magazine | 2002 | Cristie B. Gardner
Posted on 12/02/2002 9:31:59 AM PST by Some hope remaining.
I have seen this private museum and it is well worth the trip if you are in MO. Fantastic displays of brand new looking items in huge quantities. In fact, some items were so preserved that they looked fake. They have even sampled the preserved pickles and peaches in the cargo and found them fine. Wow!
I talked to one of the sons that did the dig and he told me all about the hassle and anger from the usual academic and government suspects. Seems they think that anything not in one’s own backyard (and it was on a farmer’s land who gave them approval) and not made of plastic or sold in the last five years belongs to them in the ‘name of the people and science.’
You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons.
What a fabulous story!! Thank you for posting and sharing.
Much of what was needed to build the American West is on exhibition: a carpentry shop; axes, wood planes, window glass, nails, locks, door knobs. There are pistols, riflespossibly being smuggled to abolitionists in the Kansas Territoryhundreds of pocket knifes, and innumerable Indian trade beads.
Amazing how deep the Arabia was buried.
There is a similar story of a lost locomotive in Colorado, sunk into a river bad. Some say it was salvaged long ago, others think it is hiding somewhere nearby underground.
And who above mananged to make a comment that had to be deleted by a mod about this story?
Oh, first comment. Probably done by request due to a boo-boo. Never mind.
I have visited the museum several times and see something new on each visit. What appeals is that these are not rusty, broken and forgotten things rescued from some archeological dig site. It’s all brand new stuff as it would have appeared had it made it to the stores upriver. This provides quite a different understanding of life in those days, and we are spared the “interpretations” about how evil Americans were and are.
I visited the museum about 5 years back while on a business trip, very interesting. One of the discovers of the wreck gave a presentation. I may be wrong but if I recall that same guy died a short while later in a traffic accident.
Seems like the academics and government had the same opportunity to do the research and locate the ship and didn't care, until someone else did the hard work.
Imagine what is beneath your feet. Many things buried by time. This is awesome.
I wish a river of gold had meandered thru my backyard..
Loved visiting that museum! It is easy to spend the entire day in there, and still not see it all...and we did.
Precisely it. I know another man who digs fossils and does so painstakingly with logs, maps and records detailing down to weather on the day of the digs. This is done on private land and the fossils are used to teach homeschoolers (and others) about creation, the flood and general science. There many others out there doing the same kind of things. Our usual suspects want this shut down and illegal because the idea is that these crude and ignorant amateurs are destroying our common heritage. Never mind that the academy persecutes creationist and these ‘precious relics’ would never have seen the light of day without the work of ignorant savages much like those who began the branch of scientific inquiry into paleontology in the first place.
It is possible many professional and academic historians and museum curators cannot tell the difference from amateur archaeologists/historians and looters/grave robbers. That is very unfortunate because amateur historians are responsible for the vast majority of research and preservation of firearms history. I cannot name one academic firearms history book but there are hundreds of books by amateurs that not only document firearms history but advance the sophisticated techniques and challenges of preservation of both history and the arms themselves.
As far as professional curators go, I recall visiting the Smithsonian Museums about ten years ago and observed that the display on WW2 soldiers’ souvenirs that had an incorrectly identified item prominently on display. Many less prestigious museums have little idea about how to properly care for their collections, no little about their collections, and have poor conditions for storing their collections resulting in damage and deterioration.
My wife and I and our three granddaughters spent the better part of a day in the Arabia museum last summer. It is a totally unique exhibit, thoroughly fascinating.
The granddaughters got to try some perfume that had been salvaged from the wreck...and found that it was still active.
Like you, we got to talk to one of the Hawleys. They are an impressive bunch of folks...and very approachable.
Any FReeper who finds themselves in the KC area would be advised to plan on visiting the Arabia.
I grew up in Pantego and always heard about a buried steam locomotive in Village Creek. Right there at Green Oaks and Highway 80/Lancaster in the bottoms. Someone had done some sonar or whatever on the area of the wreck and found a HUGE piece of metal underneath the creek. The owners of the line, I think U.P. will not under any circumstances let anyone dig there because of the communication lines running along the track.
ok found it:
...so with the help of extended family, friends and money borrowed from the bank, they built a 35,000-square-foot museum for less than half a million dollars with the can-do entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes the entire enterprise. And they did it without any state or federal support, something they are proud of.
I highlighted the key phrase that I took away. Not bad... 80,000 visitors/year... any freepers going through the area should stop by.
There are many, many, photographs of the artifacts (even the mule skeleton was conserved) at this webite:
Let’s not miss the major point about the academics and professional in this field—it’s all about the money.
They hate it that they missed out on possible millions in government funding to a bunch of amateurs who built a musesum out of love for the Arabia and its treasures they developed while doing the dig.
They built it for less and are exhibiting their finds via private enterprise.
And the museum might actually make them some money for their hard work and faith.
Man, you know the academics hate that.
Amazing story. Quite a find.
my FIL went there last year and said it was AMAZING
We are going to go on our next trip up to KS
it seems well worth the visit