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.
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".
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".