This week found us touring the Arabia Steamboat Museum in downtown Kansas City to coincide with our study of Missouri state history. Our timeline has us in the mid-1800's where we are learning about use of the Missouri River and steamboats to transport people and goods. The Arabia was in the middle of transporting goods to general stores in Kansas and Nebraska when it hit a tree snag and sunk near Parkville in 1856.
Since the channel of the Missouri changed over time, it was discovered 45-feet below a farm field in 1988 by a core group of five men. Because the ship was below the water table almost all the contents were preserved and since it was such a large amount of pre-Civil War items the families agreed to create a museum of the findings. This museum, located in the City Market near the river, holds the largest collection of pre-Civil War items in the world.
Since the contents were in fresh water one of the searches traveled to Canada and was trained by a conservationist there who specialized in fresh water preservation. All of the preservation is completed by friends and family trained in-house. No specialists have been brought in for this project. I find that fascinating.
The museum itself is a wonderful time capsule of the period. It has provided another great visual for the children bringing to life what we study at home. (As a side, our tour guide was professional, informative and witty. He brought great personality to the story of the Arabia and its discovery.)