On the Road with Tom and Gloria travel blog


Steamboat Arabia

the snag that sank the Arabia was recovered from lower cargo hold











rubber shoes and whips

working preservation lab

original equipment moving replica paddlewheel

6 ton stern of the Arabia

In 1856, the Steamboat Arabia hit a log snag and sank in the Missouri River. It had 200 tons of cargo aboard - frontier supplies and personal belongings such as clothing, shoes, jewelry, perfume, bottled fruits and vegetables, dishes, guns, medicine and tools. In 1988 five Kansas City steamboat enthusiasts successfully recovered this historic cargo. They originally planned to sell what they found but when they saw the quantity and quality of their find they elected to showcase the items in a museum.

This is a fascinating place. Before seeing the items on display, a video was shown describing the process of finding the ship's location ( a cornfield in Kansas), the incredible conditions of the salvage operation, and the delicate handling of the recovered treasures. Antiques Roadshow said the collection was "priceless" .

The photos I have of some of the items are just that - some of the items. There are thousands more. I found the rubber items to be most interesting because they are the rarest in the collection. Exposure to air deteriorates rubber due to oxidation but the environment around the Arabia was "anaerobic" - oxygen free- which helped protect these items. They are now protected in a nitrogen pressurized case.

The museum is located in the City Market section of K.C. - reminded me a lot of Eastern Market in Detroit. I just caught some vendors before they closed and was able to pick up a couple of fruits and veggies for snacks. It was good to check in to the hotel and get my feet up!

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