Sunday, March 20, 2011

Steamboat Arabia

My in-laws are in town from Jasper, Alabama, and we took them to the Steamboat Arabia Museum, a Kansas City gem. In 1856, the Steamboat Arabia was in present day Kansas City, traveling up the Missouri River heading for Sioux City and many points in between when it hit a lethal snag that pierced the heart of the boat. It only took five minutes before the Arabia sunk into the mud.

In 1988, some amateur historians charted the river's former course and determined that the Arabia was buried deep in a Kansas Corn field. The museum houses the cargo drudged up from the mud and water after 132 years under ground. Amazing.

With no sunlight or oxygen, most items were well preserved. But as someone who loves not only old things, but how old things are arranged, this museum is a jaw dropper. That's a simple bowl of needles below. Well, maybe not so simple considering their unbelievable history.

Clay pipes.

Rows upon rows of artifacts from all over the world.

What I wouldn't give for just a couple of these slates and "looking glasses".

Pocket knives.

Textiles. Each item is carefully cleaned and preserved under pristine conditions. All the cotton thread used to construct these items deteriorated after 132 years and each has been restored.

These shoes were made of rubber and were in a special pressurized case and limited light.

This case showed an example of what items looked like before cleaning and preservation. On the bottom left are kegs of nails and had to be freed and cleaned with a dental tool. No wonder they've been cleaning items since 1988 and one of the gentlemen who excavated these treasures said they have many more years of cleaning ahead before everything is finished. One shoe takes 4 to 5 months to clean and preserve.

And this donkey was the only casualty in the catastrophe. His owner claimed he unbridled him but that's not what they found when they excavated this poor guy . . .

And kudos to the men who found the Steamboat Arabia. They decided early on that the collection was too incredible to sell off; this was something to be treasured in-tact. Antiques Roadshow was at a loss as how to value this awesome collection; the closest they could come was to deem it "priceless".


  1. What a beautiful museum! I went to see the Titanic exhibit when it was in town, and it wasn't nearly as captivating as your photos!

  2. I would have to agree, simply PRICELESS and how wonderful that they decided to make a Museum and share this Treasure Trove with the public instead of selling it off piece by piece! I too love the way they have displayed the items. I love going to places like this.

    Thanks for stopping by my Post, yes, the Hall Tree made from an old Door really appealed to me too and could be easily replicated in a way that suited your needs, it was a very inspiring piece and sold so quickly that I'm almost certain he will be making more if he has several old Doors. At least I would Hope so, the pricing they had was very reasonable for those who would not have the time or pieces to make their own version.

    Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

  3. Next time I'm in Kansas City, I'm making a point of seeing this wonderful exhibit! (my in-laws live there)

  4. Thanks for sharing this KC gem! I took my dad there for one of his birthdays. It is amazing! And it's amazing that there are lots of other capsized boats in the Missouri River...Diane