The Steamboat Arabia Museum In Kansas City, Missouri


Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Missouri’s rivers were full of steamboats. The state’s eastern boundary is delineated by the Mississippi River, and the Missouri River cuts right through the center of the state. Steamboats brought people, crops, and consumer goods across long distances much quicker than they could have made it on the crude early roads.

Steamboat pilots, including a young Mark Twain, had to have precise knowledge of the rivers because there were eddies, sandbars, and sawyers (sunken logs) ready to wreck their ship. If he managed to avoid all those dangers, the boiler could still blow up.

In 1856, the side-wheel steamboat Arabia was heading west up the Missouri River. The Arabia was a beauty. It was 171 feet long, could carry 222 tons, and had a reputation for speed, comfort and safety. That didn’t save her, though, and she hit the trunk of a submerged walnut tree. The log tore through the Arabia’s hull and she sank within minutes. Despite the speed of the sinking and the fact that there was only one lifeboat, the crew managed to get all the passengers safely to shore. Within a few days the boat was entirely covered in silt and disappeared, another of the hundreds of casualties on the river.

In 1987, the Hawley family led a salvage crew in search of the Arabia and found her. The river had shifted since then and the boat now lay half a mile from the water’s edge and 45 feet under a farmer’s field. A massive operation began to lower the water level, remove countless tons of earth, and carefully clean off and examine the ship and its contents.

%Gallery-162722%The wet silt had preserved the ship remarkably. The storage rooms were nearly intact, with boxes full of merchandise intended for frontier shops. There were cleaned, cataloged, and preserved and the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, opened to show off the amazing find.

This museum is an amazing snapshot of history. Every possible item imaginable is there: from guns and boots to toys and a complete printing press. There are even jars of preserves. Most of the passengers’ personal belongings sank with the ship and so we have complete outfits and luggage for the hardy travelers seeking a new life in the Old West. Large sections of the boat are also on display, including the paddle wheel and anchor.

Check out the gallery for a small sample of what this incredible museum has to offer.

Another steamboat has surfaced recently. Station WLFI reports that a long drought has lowered the level of the Missouri River enough that the steamboat Montana, sunk in 1884, is now visible at Bridgeton, MO. National Geographic has an interesting article on this steamboat, the largest ever to ply the Missouri, and its ironic end. It sank after running into a railroad bridge. Railroads were what eventually killed the steamboat trade.

Steamboat ski resort receives record snowfall

Steamboat ski resort has plenty of snowSkiers and snowboarders still looking for fresh powder this season now have another destination to add to their list. Earlier this week, Steamboat was hit by a massive storm that dumped 27 inches of snow on the region in less than 24 hours. That number marked a new single-day record for the ski resort, which has now received more than five feet of snow this month alone.

The resort now boasts a base of 75 inches at mid-mountain, with the summit cloaked in an additional seven inches of snow. But it seems mother nature hasn’t finished with Steamboat just yet, as additional accumulations are predicted for today and later in the week as well.

Located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the resort has an average yearly snowfall of 349 inches. So far this winter the mountain has received about half of that, which is still plenty to ensure that all 165 named trails, and 2965 skiable acres are open to the public. Steamboat also features a massive 450-foot long Mavericks Superpipe for the boarders as well, making an excellent destination for skiers and riders alike.

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that ski resorts across the western U.S. were desperate for some powder, but that has changed dramatically in recent weeks. Now there seems to be an abundance of snow in most of the major resorts, and it doesn’t appear that it will be in short supply again any time soon. It may have taken a little longer than usual to get here, but winter has most definitely arrived, and we should enjoy it while we can.

[Photo credit: Steamboat/Larry Pierce]

Ski resort adds mandatory helmet rule

Following the tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson at Quebec’s Mont Tremblant ski resort in 2009, the Canadian company that manages the park is imposing a mandatory helmet rule at all its North American resorts for the upcoming season.

Intrawest, the company that oversees Tremblant and nine other snow resorts across North America, will require helmets for all teen and child skiiers and “recommend” them for other guests. Beginning in 2010, all skiiers and snowboarders at the resorts’ freestyle terrain parks will also be required to wear helmets. The new rules will be phased in at Intrawest’s resorts in Canada as well as their properties in the United States, including Steamboat and Stratton. In order to better publicize the decision, Intrawest plans to make a number of changes to its website and advertising, updating the imagery to include photos of guests wearing protective headgear.

Say what you will about the wisdom of mandatory helmet laws, but Intrawest’s decision just makes sense. Whether you’re riding a motorcycle, paddling the rapids or skiing down a hill, it should be natural to wear a helmet during higher risk activities. Richardson’s high-profile skiing death only seems to have further pushed the issue to the forefront. Whether this sort of mandatory helmet rule will be extended to other American ski resorts remains to be seen.