The Steamboat Arabia left Kansas City in 1856 for a routine supply trip up the Missouri River. It was carrying 200 tons of precious cargo that was on its way to 16 different towns along the river.
This was a common sight in those days because steamboats were the best way to traverse America’s river systems. They were a huge business and essential for trade and commerce.
Sadly, the Steamboat Arabia had embarked on its last journey. A fallen walnut tree, hidden by the glare of the setting sun, was waiting just below the surface of the water. One hit and the Arabia’s hull was torn open. She sank in seconds. Most were able to swim away. The only casualty was a poor mule that was left tied to the deck.
The steamboat was sucked into the mud and silt at the bottom of the river and disappeared from sight. As most rivers do, the Missouri River shifted course, and the Arabia was lost for 132 years. Then, in the 1980s, it was discovered 45 feet underneath a Kansas farm.
On November 26, 1988, the full boat was uncovered along with its 200 tons of buried treasure.