Steamboat Arabia Found Under 45 Feet – In A Field

This resemble something out of an Indiana Jones film and something that as a kid we would all fantasy of finding. How frequently do you get the chance to locate a covered steamboat?

Stacked with supplies for 16 towns. In 1987, a gathering of fortune seekers found a steamboat covered somewhere down in a Kansas cornfield. This was the Arabia, a side-wheeler whose structure was penetrated by a submerged tree on Sept. 5, 1856, close Parkville, Mo., 6 miles north of Kansas City.

The boat, only three years of age, had left from St. Louis, steaming westbound on the Missouri to convey stock to 16 wilderness towns. The freight included 20,000 feet of timber, 4,000 shoes and boots, two prefab homes bound for Logan, Neb., a sawmill and installations, and an instance of Otard Dupuy and Co. cognac.



The steamboat Arabia was a side wheeler steamboat which hit a snag in the Missouri River and sank near what today isKansas City, Kansas, on September 5, 1856. It was rediscovered in 1988 by a team of researchers. Today, the artifacts recovered from the site are housed in the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

The Arabia was built in 1853 around the Monongahela River in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Its paddlewheels were 28 feet (8.5 m) across, and its steam boilers consumed approximately thirty cords of wood per day. The boat averaged five miles (8 km) an hour going upstream.

The boat traveled the Ohio and Mississippi rivers before it was bought by Captain John Shaw, who operated the boat on the Missouri River. Her first trip was to carry 109 soldiers from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Pierre, which was located up river in South Dakota.

The boat then traveled up theYellowstone River, adding 700 miles (1,100 km) to the trip. In all, the trip took nearly three months to complete.

In spring of 1856, the boat was sold to Captain William Terrill and William Boyd, and it made fourteen trips up and down the Missouri during their ownership.

In March, the boat collided with an obstacle (either a rock or a sand bar), nearly sinking with a damaged rudder. Repairs were made in nearby Portland. A few weeks later the boat blew a cylinder head and had to be repaired again.



Paddlewheel of the Arabia Steamboat. Located at The Steamboat Arabia Museum, Kansas City

Additionally in March 1856, the Arabia was halted and sought by expert subjection Border Ruffians close Lexington, Missouri. As indicated by daily paper accounts at the time, a Pennsylvania abolitionist on board the Arabia dropped a letter, which was found and gave over to Captain Shaw.

The letter portrayed weapons and guns in transit to the subjection free Kansas Territory from the abolitionist Massachusetts Aid Society. The weapons were found in boxes marked “Woodworkers Tools” and appropriated.


On September 5, 1856, the Arabia set out for a routine trip. At Quindaro Bend, near the town of Parkville, Missouri, the boat hit a submerged walnut tree snag. The snag ripped open the hull, which rapidly filled with water. The upper decks of the boat stayed above water, and the only casualty was a mule that was tied to sawmill equipment and forgotten.

The boat sank so rapidly into the mud that by the next morning, only the smokestacks and pilot house remained visible. Within a few days, these traces of the boat were also swept away. Numerous salvage attempts failed, and eventually the boat was completely covered by water. Over time, the river shifted a half a mile to the east. The site of the sinking is in present-day Kansas City, Kansas.

In the 1860s, Elisha Sortor purchased the property where the boat lay. Over the years, legends were passed through the family that the boat was located somewhere under the land. In the surrounding town, stories were also told of the steamboat, but the exact location of the boat was lost over time.

In 1987, Bob Hawley and his sons, Greg and David, set out to find the boat. The Hawleys used old maps and a proton magnetometer to figure out the probable location, and finally discovered the Arabia half a mile from the river and under 45 feet (14 m) of silt and topsoil.


Wooden supplies from the Arabia Steamboat.

The proprietors of the ranch gave consent for removal, with the condition that the work be finished before the spring planting. The Hawleys, alongside family companions Jerry Mackey and David Luttrell, set out to uncover the watercraft amid the winter months while the water table was at its most reduced point.

They played out a progression of boring tests to decide the definite area of the structure, then denoted the border with powdered chalk. Overwhelming gear, including a 100-ton crane, was acquired by both waterway and street transport amid the late spring and fall. 20 water system pumps were introduced around the site to bring down the water level and to keep the site from flooding.

The 65-foot-profound (20 m) wells expelled 20,000 US gallons (76,000 l) every moment starting from the earliest stage. On November 26, 1988, the pontoon was uncovered. After four days, antiquities from the watercraft started to show up, starting with a Goodyear elastic overshoe. On December 5, a wooden case loaded with exquisite china was uncovered. The mud was such a successful preserver, to the point that the yellow pressing straw was still obvious. A huge number of ancient rarities were recuperated in place, including containers of saved nourishment that are still consumable. The ancient rarities that were recouped are housed in the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

On February 11, 1989, work stopped at the site, and the pumps were killed. The gap loaded with water overnight.

The site where the watercraft sank is an unassuming field about a large portion of a mile from the stream. After the pumps were killed, the site was filled back in so it would not be a danger.


Dishes rescued from the Arabia Steamboat.

The Arabia Steamboat Museum houses antiquities rescued from the Arabia, a steamboat that sank on the Missouri River in 1856. The 30,000-square-foot historical center opened on November 13, 1991 in the Kansas City River Market in Kansas City, Missouri, United States.

The accomplices of River Salvage Inc., who unearthed the Steamboat Arabia and opened the historical center, case to have the biggest single accumulation of pre-Civil War relics on the planet.

After the unearthing of the Arabia, the following test for the accomplices of River Salvage Inc. was figuring out how to clean and safeguard the antiques.

Amid the burrowing procedure, natural antiques had been settled in pieces of ice: both in Jerry Mackey’s eatery coolers and coolers introduced away units in underground gives in close to the Missouri River. In the three months taking after the burrow, bigger wooden relics, including the stern segment and oar wheel of the steamboat and two pre-assembled houses found on-board, were submerged in a 80-by-20-foot pool uniquely burrowed by the group.

Greg Hawley collaborated with conservators taking a shot at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth, England, and the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, alongside the Historical Resource Conservation Branch of the Canadian Parks Service, to learn freshwater protection systems.

The protection procedure is still in advancement today at the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Natural materials like wood and cowhide are submerged in a sustenance additive called polyethylene glycol (PEG) and after that stop dried.

Preservationists tenderly expel oxidized material from metal ancient rarities utilizing metal devices and exceptional erasers. Packaged and jolted nourishments and refreshments are infused with nitrogen, an inactive gas. Shoes, boots, and pieces of clothing must be re-sewed since their cotton string broke up submerged. It has been evaluated that the conservation of the accumulation will be finished by 2022.


The Arabia Steamboat Museum has reliably gotten positive press. The Kansas City Star named the fascination “Youngster of the Year” in 1992 subsequent to having gotten more than 20,000 guests in two months. Starting 2013, the historical center kept on drawing more than 80,000 guests for every year. It is depicted by the Wall Street Journal as “interesting” historical center with a “captivating” story. US News and World Report positions it number one on its rundown of “Best Things To Do in Kansas City.


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