Arabia Steamboat Museum & Fiorella's Jack Stack

Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
Trip End Oct 02, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Nebraska
Friday, August 16, 2013

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I got an e-mail early today telling me my home phone was not working. After thinking about it a bit I realized that was another symptom of my Comcast internet problem since I have a VIOP phone.

I checked out and headed for the Arabia Steamboat Museum. The Arabia was a paddlewheel boat that sank in 1856 and was salvaged in 1988. I didn't know anything beyond that when I decided to go to the exhibit. It turned out to be an interesting story.

Around 1986 or so a local eccentric pointed out to someone that since the Missouri River has changed its course over the years that some of the boats that have sunk are now no longer in the path of the river and that it should be possible to dig them up. The person he pointed this out to then mentioned it to some others. Eventually, a group of five decided that the eccentric was right and decided to give it a try.

The researched sunken boats and put together a short list of five possibilities. The Arabia was at the top of the list. They talked to a landowner around where they thought it might be. The landowner knew about the boat and knew it was on his property. He even knew roughly where it was. The group of treasure hunters used a magnetometer and found the ship in just a couple hours.

Then they needed to figure out how to dig it up. They dug a few test holes to determine the depth, which turned out to be about 45 feet. After devising their plan they waited until the crops had been picked and they started digging.

The water table at the site is only about 10 feet down so keeping a 45-foot-deep hole dry was going to be difficult. They eventually installed 20 pumps around the boat with each pumping 1,000 cubic feet per minute. The water was pumped into a canal they constructed that lead to the Missouri River about a half-mile away.

They uncovered the boat fairly quickly and started pulling out the cargo. The boat contained 200 tons of cargo when it went down. There had been some previous salvage attempts that had removed a little bit of the cargo but most of it was still there. Over a four month period the group of five removed the 200 tons of cargo and stashed it all over town. One problem is that the best way to store the wood and leather products until proper preservation efforts had been applied.was to freeze them while wet and lots of what was removed fell into this category. And applying those preservation efforts was going to take time - a lot more time than they planned. They had expected they would dig up the cargo and sell it in a couple years. That was 25 years ago. They still have about 60 tons, about a third of the total, in freezers waiting to be processed.

Twenty pieces were given to the landowner. Some pieces are on loan to another museum. Everything else is at the museum and most of it is on display. When the ship went down Kansas City was a gateway to the west, which made it a gateway for supplies as well as settlers. The cargo is a cross section of pretty much everything people might want to buy in 1856.

I found the museum very interesting and spent quite a bit of time there. I had expected to be able to visit another museum today but I used up all my time at the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

When I go to highly-rated restaurants I try to stay vegetarian as long as I believe I'll still get a true sense of the restaurant. Well, that certainly wasn't possible today. Before leaving town I went to Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue. There are three highly-rated barbecue restaurants in Kansas City and I've already visited the other two. Jack Stack is a lot fancier than the others. You are seated at a table and waited on instead of waiting in line. I got their Jack's Best, which is a Crown Prime Beef Rib, five Baby Back Ribs and some Beef Burnt Ends plus two side dishes. I ordered the Hickory Pit Beans and Cheesy Corn Bake.

Everything was very good. My favorite was the Beef Burnt Ends but there are still lots of menu items I haven't tried.

When I got to my hotel I tried connecting to my computer and SlingBox at home to see whether anything had changed. I don't know why, but something had. My SlingBox had started working. Things are heading in the right direction.
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