Arabia Steamboat Museum
400 Grand Blvd., Kansas City
HOURS: Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
COST: $12.50 adult, $11.50 senior, $4.75 child
As 19th-century expansionists pushed their way through the Midwest, river travel became a popular way to transport people and goods. The steamboat industry flourished and muddy river waters served as a lengthy, and at times treacherous, highway. Prior to her untimely sinking, the steamboat Arabia had traveled the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers before changing hands twice.
In 1856, the steamboat made nearly 30 trips across Missouri before the hidden trunk of a walnut tree dragged the Arabia to a watery grave. Persons aboard were saved by the steamboat’s high-level cabins, which remained above water as a single lifeboat transported passengers to safety. Later on, salvage attempts were made, each thwarted by seasonal flooding and frequent deposits of topsoil that mired the wreckage to the river’s floor.
More than a century later, a salvage crew led by David Hawley located the wreckage and, after a painstaking and incredibly time-consuming process, raised pieces of the Arabia from the depths and transported them to what is now the Arabia Steamboat Museum.
Frequent tours throughout the day inform guests about the steamboat’s legacy and excavation, and painstakingly restored items from the ship’s cargo hold offer a peek into 19th-century life.
Be sure and stop for a picture in front of the steamboat’s preserved six-ton stern section, complete with remnants of the ship’s original paint.
© Katy Ryan from Moon Kansas City, 1st Edition