PRAIRIE TRIP PART 4 -- THE ARABIA
After leaving the WW I Memorial, Alan took us to the privately owned museum for the "ARABIA", which was a side paddle wheel steam boat that sank, with all it's 200 tons of cargo in the Missouri River in 1856. It lay forgotten while the river flooded and changed its course many times.
It was rediscovered by an adventuresome local family team in 1987. It was 45 feet under a farmers corn field, over a half mile from the current position of the river. They raised private funds to uncover the ship and collect and restore the wonderfully preserved cargo. They decided that they must keep this collection together, so, rather than auction it off, they raised more funds to open and display this window on the past. It is reported to be the largest single collection of manufactured articles from this era in the world. I think of it as a modern equivalent to King Tut's treasure that was recovered from his tomb.
The ARABIA was loaded with barrels stuffed with all kinds of merchandise that had been ordered by over 80 stores located along the Missouri River, as far north as South Dakota. Most of these items were prepaid, and, though some was insured, many purchasers lost their items. I was told that about 60 percent was made in the states, and 40 percent had originated overseas.
This photo displays some beautiful tableware, all in perfect shape.
Here is a large array of kitchen utensils.
A general view of part of the display area.
Here is some of the "canned" food, which, in many cases is still in perfect condition. .
What an array of tools!
More tools, and note the sharpening wheels to keep the tools sharp.
I think some of these are for the finer type of wood working.
I think those things at the upper left are scales.
And here is an extensive array of hardware for finishing one's new home.
They had recovered one of the paddle wheels, the boilers and the steam engine, which were all displayed in their relative position on an area of the floor that was marked with an outline of the main deck to give an idea of scale.
I loved this place, because it demonstrated vividly to me the massive westward growth at that time. Consider that these steamboats were carrying these products of the civilization up to the Dakotas, less than 100 years after the first settlement at Fort Pitt.
You can learn much more at the ARABIA web site at