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They Uncover A 150-Year-Old Steamboat - But What's Inside Is The Real Treasure



Waterways were a key passage for transporting goods long ago. But one fateful day, a fully loaded 171-foot-long Steamboat Arabia ventured down a path from which it never returned.

#18 Boat that never returned

#18 Boat that never returned

Waterways were a key mode of transportation long ago but on an unfortunate day a fully loaded 171 foot long Steamboat Arabia ventured down a path from which it never returned.

#17 Supplies Destined for Pioneers

#17 Supplies Destined for Pioneers

In 1856,the steamboat built at the John Pringle boat yard in West Brownsville, PA, was travelling up the Missouri River from Kansas, carrying supplies for general stores and pioneer settlements in 16 towns upstream. The 222 tons of cargo of the vessel on that trip included more than one million objects.

#16 Style demo

#16 Style demo

The steamboat could cruise in style at more than five miles per hour and with a side wheel, or paddle wheel on each side, the steamboat could manoeuvre around hazards like sandbars and snags. But not that day.

#15 Sinking began

#15 Sinking began

As the steamboat Arabia crept up the churning river, it rammed into the thick trunk of a fallen tree. The glare of the midday sun shining on the water had hidden the tree from the sight of captain. The tree trunk blasted through the thick hull of the steamboat. Water poured in and the Arabia quickly sank to the bottom of the river.

Read Ahead To See What Exactly The Treasure Was.

#14 Searching for the lost

#14 Searching for the lost

The river shifted half a mile to the east over time, hiding the boat. But in 1987, Kansas local, Bob Hawley, and his sons decided to search for and eventually uncovered the steamboat, which had been buried under 45 feet of farmland.

#13 Scavenging for the artifacts

#13 Scavenging for the artifacts

Four men started scavenging for the artifacts. People.People in the area heard the tales of the tragic ending of Steamboat Arabia, so the Hawleys used old maps and special equipment to guestimate its location.

#12 Excavation begins

#12 Excavation begins

Bob Hawley, his son Greg, and family friends, Jerry Mackey and David Luttrell, worked on this project. The landowner of the farmland where the boat was buried gave the Hawleys permission to begin excavating the historical boat as long as their work was wrapped up before spring planting.

#11 Big job

#11 Big job

It required huge equipments for excavation of the boat.So,the Hawleys brought in bulldozers, backhoes, drills and a 100 ton crane and got to work. They hired a well drilling company from Iowa to install 20 65 foot deep wells to remove 20,000 gallons of water per minute. Each day, the excavating hole grew larger and within two weeks, the searchers spied their first glimpse of the Arabia.

#10 Artifacts condition

#10 Artifacts condition

Because the steamboat and its contents had been sitting for decades in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment, buried in mud, many of the artifacts had been shockingly well preserved. They found the weathered timbers of the left paddlewheel that originally was 28 feet tall.

#9 First finds

#9 First finds

Along with the paddle wheel, one of the first finds was a rubber shoe that sat on the muddy deck.

#8 Items Unearthed

#8 Items Unearthed

Crates of frontier merchandise contained luxuries and necessities for those living in 1856 like castor oil and cognac, needles and nutmegs, windowpanes and wedding bands, eyeglasses and earrings, as well as long underwear, umbrellas and weapons.

#7 Treasure found

#7 Treasure found

By November 26, 1988, the Steamboat Arabia fully emerged from the muck and mire, revealing its 200 tons of buried treasure that had been perfectly preserved by the mud.

#6 Everything intact

#6 Everything intact

The Hawleys found a wooden crate filled with fine dining china.Then, they found jars of preserved food that was still edible.

#5 Berries found too

#5 Berries found too

Many of the pie fruits, as they were known by in the 1800s, were found buried and preserved deep below the ground.

#4 Vintage taste

#4 Vintage taste

Believe or not, one the Hawleys taste-tested the discoveries themselves, including a very old pickle.

#3 Beautiful buttons

#3 Beautiful buttons

Here is a sampling of 29 patterns of calico patterned buttons found on the steamboat. The cotton dresses that some of the buttons adorned, however, were not so fortunate. The fabric dissolved after being under water for so long. But the porcelain buttons survived.

#2 Shoes Shine Again

#2 Shoes Shine Again

More than 4,000 shoes and boots, still packaged in shipping boxes for delivery, were uncovered. The shoes were for men, women and children and some were lined with buffalo hair giving additional warmth for the wearer.

#1 Medicine Found Onboard

#1 Medicine Found Onboard

Remedies for most maladies were recovered in their original bottles, but most were unidentifiable except for these bottles of Dr. J. Hostetter Stomach Bitters.




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