Starting Saturday, visitors to the
Those items are among more than a million objects retrieved from the mud 45 feet below a
Not only the sunken boat but some of its cargo came from
"These objects are a time capsule from when
The vessel sank
After the river shifted, the steamboat and its contents were buried deep under farmland in a watery, air-free grave on the
The location had been known for years, and there had been previous efforts to salvage items. The two families obtained rights to recover the boat and its contents and began their work in 1988.
That work involved simply (well, not so simply because it was 45 feet underground) digging a big pit, and bringing everything out. They kept the items they found wet and cold, using, among other things, large freezers from a restaurant commissary belonging to one of the families, until they could be conserved. Many items still await treatment.
That anaerobic environment preserved many items made of wood, metal, porcelain and glass. Bottles of champagne, jars of pickles and vials of perfume were among the items recovered and found to be in good condition.
"I'm not a judge of champagne,"
Containers filled with scent fared well. "The perfume still smelled,"
The 8,000-square-foot show is being presented in partnership with the
Locally, visitors enter through a mock cornfield where the well-preserved remains of the boat and its cargo were recovered. The Arabia was one of many vessels built in a shipyard in
The exhibit at the history center will include tall display cases filled with hundreds of recovered objects that range from axes and boots to saws and woolen jackets. Visitors also will get a sense of what items looked like when family members recovered them from the muck below the cornfield.
Those objects include a keg of
"Treasures of the Arabia" will feature interactive stations where young visitors can try their hands at piloting a steamboat or identifying different goods carried on the ship.
The exhibit also has a link to "Bloody Kansas" in the years just before the Civil War. Items on display will include one of the 1853 model Sharps carbines that an abolitionist organization sought to bring into
The weapons were discovered and removed from the steamboat before it sank.
Len Barcousky: firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-772-0184.
(c)2014 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at www.post-gazette.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services