Recently, SS and I took a day off and toured a local attraction: The Steamboat Arabia.
It had been years since I had gone through the museum. It’s truly amazing.
The Titantic, which sank in 1912, was a luxury liner. Its passengers were wealthy and the items recovered from the Titantic display their class status.
The Arabia, which sank in 1856, was a commoner’s mode of transportation. Steamboats were used to ship people (generally wives and children, after the husband had established a home settlement in the new frontier of the West) and goods for setting up a home.
Steamboats were powered by…well, steam. The wood for the steam engines were harvested from trees along the river banks. Unfortunately, this caused a lot of cut, loose wood to float in the river. When the Arabia hit a snag (floating wood), it sunk in the Missouri River.
Over time, the banks of the Missouri River were narrowed and naturally re-directed and shifted. Many steamboats are buried in what are now fields – no longer the river!
The team that treasure hunted and dug up the Arabia found a true snapshot of American history in the 1800’s. Referred to as a “floating WalMart of the 1800’s”, the contents of the Arabia were vast and geared for frontiersmen who dared to Go West and find a home of their own. The Arabia treasures (buried just 45 feet underground) dug up from a cornfield near Parkville, Missouri contained “housing kits” – everything you would need to build and establish a new home. It also contained things that were probably to be used to trade with the Native Americans. Everything was neatly ‘preserved’ for over 130 years in thick mud.
The Arabia was discovered in 1988. They have been archivally preserving each item found in the bowels of the steamboat. It’s estimated that they have about 15 more years of preservation left to go through.
Again, an IMMENSE amount of stuff. It’s absolutely overwhelming!
The pickles and whiskey were all still edible. (Cause one of the owners tried them!)
Below are some pictures we took on the tour. Very every day stuff. A great peek into life in the 1800’s. If you’re a Little House on the Prairie fan, like myself, you eat this stuff up! SS was particularly amazed at the tools, guns and knives. Buttons galore. Zillions of little bity glass beads (again, probably for trade.) Every day life.
We would both highly recommend this tour/museum. It is the world’s largest collection of frontier supplies. Very enjoyable trip for us!
(note: most of the pictures are of the preserved items. But there are some pictures of items still “clumped together”, not yet worked on. Also, a picture of the freeze-dry machine that they use for drying out the boots, etc.)