Ship that went missing for 132 years with many pre-Civil War artifacts, discovered buried under cornfield

November 8, 2017 12:15 pm Last Updated: November 8, 2017 12:15 pm

A ship loaded with over 200 tons of goods hit a fallen tree that was lying beneath the Missouri River and sank quickly. A group of men discovered the ship buried in a cornfield years later.

The steamboat, named Arabia, set off from St. Louis, Missouri, on Sept. 5, 1856, carrying over 200 tons of cargo, which ranged from shoes to champagne bottles that were to be delivered to frontier towns.

As it maneuvered through the Missouri River, a partially submerged trunk of a walnut tree was overlooked by the captain. The ship sank within minutes, but fortunately, everyone escaped except for a mule that was attached to a tie.

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The ship was soon swept away and disappeared, but was discovered in 1988 by an explorer, David Hawley, of Kansas City, in a cornfield in Kansas. How did it end up there?

In the latter half of the 19th century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers altered the shape of the river; thus, some lands were reclaimed and made for farm use.

An outline of the buried ship was marked on the farmland before excavation.

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Using a metal detector, David located the steamboat underground and dug it up in 1988, along with many pre-Civil War artifacts.

©Facebook | Arabia Steamboat Museum

Some of these items were preserved very well in the mud, including some bottled food.

Bottled food discovered in the ship

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Pre-Civil War artifacts found in the buried ship

©Facebook | Arabia Steamboat Museum

Some of these artifacts are now displayed at the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City.