Kansas City began as a river town, though we seldom think of it as such today. Along the banks of the Missouri where the Town of Kansas sprang up now sits The City Market, sometimes known as the River Market, and during one "exciting era," as The River Quay. Produce wholesalers call this area home, but on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the farming season, it becomes a great place to hang out, people watch, and mostly, purchase fresh produce. Several restaurants are located here, and a number of young people are returning to the urban core, snatching up the loft spaces that were one-time warehouse and office spaces.
My grandmother was the first person in our family to discover this museum. She talked about how great it was, but frankly, it just didn't sound interesting. But on my last visit to Missouri she finally convinced me to go. Now, it's my favorite spot in Kansas City, second only to the museum. The story of the Steamboat Arabia, it's excavation, extrication and preservation of it's cargo and it's history are a fascinating vehicle for time travel. If you have the chance to visit Kansas City, this should definitely be on your itinerary.
Steamboats once were plentiful on the Missouri River between St Louis and Kansas City, both for commerce and for migration of settlers to the west. The steamer Arabia sunk in the waters of the mighty river in 1856. It was unearthed in a cornfield 132 years later with its precious cargo remarkably preserved in the mud. The river had changed course in the intervening years.
The private citizens who rescued the Arabia and its contents have chosen not to sell off its cargo piece by piece, but to place these items in a museum in Kansas City's City Market. It makes for a fascinating visit!
This cargo steamboat, laden with 220 tons of merchandise destined for settlers out west, sank in the Missouri River in 1856, where it remained preserved in cold mud until it was excavated in the 1980s. A virtual time capsule of the 1850s and one of the best collections of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world, the museum provides a fascinating look at frontier life, with displays of the steamboat's cargo, from china and hardware to jewelry and leather boots (900 shoes and boots alone are on display; another 4,000 have yet to undergo the preservation process). Tours begin with a film of the excavation and restoration of parts of the boat (which are now on display); plan on 1 1/2 hours
Mon-Sat 10am-4:30pm (last tour); Sun noon-3:30pm
Admission $9.75 adults, $9 seniors, $4.75 children 4-12
Dedicated as part of the L & C commemoration in 2004, this mural is in the River Market neighborhood, at the corner of 5th and Wyandotte. It was commissioned by the owners of the River City Antique Mall, and executed by local artists Alisha Gambino, Jesus Ortiz and Joe Faus.
I've never been much into history, but the Steamboat Arabia museum really drew me in. Most museums have old works of art, but this museum is filled with the cargo that was carried by a river boat that was lost in the Missouri River in 1856.
Instead of works of art, you'll find trade goods, clothes, even canned fruit and bottles of wine. You walk away from the museum with a real sense of how people lived in the 1850's.
If you come to the City Market, take a peek at the Arabia Steamboat Museum. The steamboat Arabia was sunk by a submerged log on the Missouri River in 1856. Everyone, with the exception of a mule that was tied to the boat, survived. The 220 tons of cargo also survived. The Missouri River changed course several times throughout the late 1800’s and the steamboat was buried under a cornfield. The steamboat was excavated and the cargo preserved in the 1990’s.
If you like City Markets, then ours is a good one to visit. On weekends it is really busy with vendors coming in from everywhere, food stalls, children running around, sometimes music. It's just a fun place to be.
River Market is an area near the river on Grand.
There are small shops and restaurants. We got some excellent fresh vegetables there for a great price. We ate fabulous 'falafels' at Habashi House there.
Steamboat Arabia Museum is well worth a visit. It fascinated me to see it and learn about it. What happened was a steamboat sank in the river many years ago with a full cargo of goods going up river to a general store. The paddle wheel ship sank in to the mud. The mud enclosed it like it was sealed in a time capsule. Over the years the course of the river channel moved and changed. The spot where the boat sank was a corn field and not a river any more. Treasure hunters of a new kind went in with bull dozers and carefully dug up the old ship. The entire ships cargo has been placed on display.
They show you a film about how they located the ship from old records and maps of where the river channel went. In the movie you see them actually digging it up and learn how the cargo was preserved. Then you go into a big room that is full of every kind of goods you could imagine.
The largest open-air farmer’s market in the Midwest since 1857. Features hot entertainment, 30 specialty shops, small ethnic restaurants, clubs and Arabia Steamboat Museum