Sunday, September 11, 2005

Arabia Steamboat Museum

"Unbelievable treasures and fascinating history await. Explore our museum and learn how the handsome steamer Arabia prospered on the rivers, perished in 1856 and was finally rediscovered 132 years later, precious cargo intact. This exhibit, in Kansas City, Mo, is many things: history, ingenuity, tragedy, adventure, perseverance, preservation and a tribute to the pioneer spirit."

For more information on the museum located in Kansas City, Missouri, click here.

"They were heroes and heroines who faced danger and disease, famine and fatigue, with unwavering determination to build a new future and live in complete and glorious freedom. Embracing the desire for a fresh start, they traveled westward by the thousands and tens of thousands, making their own history as they came. Some traveled overland by foot, wagon, and horseback. Many, however, chose to ride the river. With their twin stacks belching clouds of smoke and ash, the Western-style steamboats churned their way upstream brimming with emigrants and their supplies.

"The Arabia was a side-wheel steamer, carrying passengers and cargo on a regular route and schedule. At 171 feet long and capable of carrying 222 tons, she was a medium-sized boat. Her trade route took her well into present-day South Dakota, and on one trip she carried soldiers and 70 horses on her main deck. Against the Missouri's swift current, the giant 28-foot tall paddlewheels could push the steamboat upstream at 6 or 7 miles an hour.

"A visit to the museum is a glimpse into the past. The Arabia's collection reveals details of frontier life seen nowhere else. A museum tour is partially guided, introducing visitors to the Arabia's history and sinking, with a short video presentation of the remarkable excavation. The 6-ton stern section of the boat is on display, carefully preserved, with draft marks and some original white paint still visible. A full-sized reproduction of the boat's main deck shows visitors the grand scale of a steamboat, with the Arabia's huge boilers and steam engine in place... But the contents of the Arabia's cargo hold can fascinate a visitor for hours. Case after case, window after window, 1856 comes to life in the everyday items recovered."

-- selection and editing by Shrikant Rangnekar

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