In the middle of the nineteenth century, the side-wheel steamboat Arabia hauled freight and passengers from St Louis up the Missouri River to frontier towns upstream as far as present-day South Dakota and Nebraska. Measuring 171 feet long, it was about average-sized for the riverboats of the day, and carried 220 tons of cargo. European dishware, jewelry, guns, tools, food products and clothing were among the items stored in the hold. On 5 September 1856, it departed Westport Landing (now part of Kansas City) bound for its next stop, Parkville. About one mile before reaching Parkville, the steamboat struck a submerged tree trunk and sank.
In 1988, a group of men from Independence located the remains of the steamboat and began excavation. The shifting channel of the Missouri River had left the craft buried under 45 feet of silt in a cornfield south of Parkville in Kansas. They recovered much of the original cargo (which had been well preserved in the mud), as well as personal effects of the passengers and the steam engine that powered the boat. The recovered items make up the largest collection of artifacts from that time period in the world. Now, as restoration of the artifacts continues, about two thirds of the collection is on display at the Arabia Steamboat Museum.
Items that can be seen at the museum:
- a full-sized mockup of the main deck, with the boiler and one steam engine attached to a working paddle wheel
- tools, building supplies and hardware
- an entire wall of tinware
- wool sweaters and socks
- stacks of beaver hats
- whole crates of shoes and boots
- a "Frozen Charlotte" doll
- surprisingly colorful buttons of every kind
- glass beads of all types for sewing and trading with the Indians
- a Sharp's carbine, removed from the Arabia on a previous cruise, destined for abolitionist groups in Kansas. These guns were sometimes referred to as "Beecher's Bibles."
- meet one of the people responsible for the excavation
To log this cache:
1. It is not necessary to pay admission for this exhibit in order to log the cache, but you must actually visit the site.
2. To open the Certificate of Accomplishment, go to the indicated position outside the building and look at the painting of the vessel. The password is the word that appears directly above the name on the side-wheel. The case of the password (i.e., upper or lower case) is exactly as it appears in the painting.
3. If the password opens the certificate, you may log this cache as a find. DO NOT INCLUDE A COPY OF THE CERTIFICATE IN YOUR LOG. If the certificate does not open, e-mail me with the password.
4. Logs that do not follow these procedures, or that appear to be fraudulent, will be deleted without comment.