The Steamboat Arabia Museum - 200 Tons of Pre-Civil War Artifacts

artifacts at the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas CityThe steamboat Arabia sank on the Missouri River near Kansas City in 1856. Its rediscovery in 1988 revealed 200 tons of remarkably preserved, pre-Civil War artifacts - the largest collection in the world. Come see it at Kansas City's Arabia Steamboat Museum!

The Missouri River claimed numerous steamboats during their heyday in the 1800's. Prior to the addition of dams, the Missouri's unpredictable and sediment clouded flow proved quite treacherous. The steamboat Arabia was just one of some 300 vessels lost to the river in those days.

The Arabia, built in 1853, was a side wheeler with paddle wheels that were 28 feet across. Her boilers could consume up to thirty cords of wood per day - all to average an upstream speed of about 5 miles per hour. Originally used as transport on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, it began plying the waters of the Missouri in 1855.

The Sinking of the Steamboat Arabia

On September 5, 1856, the Arabia hit a submerged tree at Quindaro Bend, near the town of Parkville, Missouri. The tree ripped open the Arabia's hull and she began to rapidly fill with water. Luckily the boat settled into the Missouri's mud, leaving the upper decks above water for evacuation. A poor, lone mule, accidentally left tied to sawmill equipment, was the only casualty.

Salvage attempts were largely useless and, within a few days, the boat sank below the water and deep into the river bed's soft mud.

The Arabia stayed hidden in its unmarked grave for more than 130 years. During that time, the river shifted its course. The sunken steamboat was now a half a mile to the west of the river, resting some 45 feet beneath a farmer's cornfield.

Rediscovery of the Arabia

The Arabia went down fully loaded with 200 tons of goods meant for general stores and homes in frontier towns across the mid-west. Imagine, if you will, a pre-Civil War floating Walmart. Legends of her cargo contained promises of whiskey and gold and many hoped to find her.

In 1987, armed with maps, old newspaper clippings, and a metal detector, David Hawley finally did. Careful excavations commenced and, by 1991, the recovered ship and cargo became the basis for the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

As it turned out, thanks to the mud of the Missouri River, the Arabia was an unwitting time capsule of pre-Civil War life on the American frontier.

The mud had not only swallowed the ship, it had protected it from the destructive effects of light and oxygen. Much of her cargo was found remarkably preserved. Ready-made clothing, tools, guns, medicine, and dishes, were all discovered looking none too worse for the wear. Some sealed foodstuffs were even found to still be edible!

The Arabia Steamboat Museum

The Arabia Steamboat Museum, in Kansas City, offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to examine the wreck's long-hidden and well-preserved treasures.

The museum's vast collection will fascinate visitors. Artifacts are still being preserved and added to the collection on a regular basis. In fact, there are so many items from the steamboat Arabia that the museum isn't big enough to display it all! You can even watch the preservation process during your visit.

The Arabia Steamboat Museum
400 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64106
10am to 5pm, Monday-Saturday - noon to 5pm on Sundays
The last tour starts at 3:30pm
Learn more at 1856.com

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SubTropolis - World’s Largest Underground Business Complex

SubTropolis Kansas City, MoDeep beneath Kansas City, carved out of a layer of 270-million-year-old limestone, there is another world. A busting, productive world some 100 or more feet underground. A sprawling, subterranean complex the size of 140 football fields. SubTropolis.

Almost all cities offer more than meets the eye but this is particularly true of Kansas City, MO.

Kansas City sits upon a particularly rich deposit of limestone that was mined over the years for building materials. Parking lots, malls, and miles and miles of freeways had their start here.

The limestone was easy to get at because access was horizontal, not vertical. Vast, openings were carved in the base of the bluffs above the Missouri River. Level, wide entries that both people and vehicles can easily enter, not deep shafts.

SubTropolis was mined using the room and pillar method. "Rooms" are dug out around 25-foot square "pillars" of limestone on 65-foot centers spaced 40 feet apart.

This space left behind - over 55,000,000 square feet of it - was dry and stayed a perpetual 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Using it as cold storage was a no-brainer. Converting for tenants? Genius. Concrete flooring, 17-foot high, smooth ceilings, and electricity transformed the space. SubTropolis was now brightly lit, with miles of wide, paved streets accessed at street level.

The first tenants moved in in the 1960's and the amount of leasable space continues to grow. Today, SubTropilis offers more than 6,000,000 square feet of leasable space. Another 8,000,000 square feet of space remain available for expansion.

In fact, because of SubTropolis, about 10 percent of Kansas City's commercial real estate is underground. More than 1,700 people work here - and that's not all. The world’s first and only underground paintball arena, Jaegers Subsurface Paintball, is here. There's also an exotic flower garden loaded with orchids, Bird's Botanicals.

Server Farms, retail production, food distribution, even a Wednesday flea market call SubTropolis home. Hollywood stores it's fragile film here. Ben Hur, Gone With The Wind, Looney Tunes, every episode of Seinfeld.

More SubTropolis Facts

  • more than 10,000 limestone pillars
  • 8.2 miles of roads
  • 2.1 miles of railroad track
  • More than 500 truck docks
  • Over 55 companies renting space
  • More than 1,600 parking spaces

SubTropolis

8300 NE Underground Dr, Kansas City, MO 64161
SubTropolis is located just 10 minutes from Kansas City’s central business district and 20 minutes from Kansas City International Airport. Learn more online at huntmidwest.com or Facebook.

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