National Archives at Kansas City

Press Release: March 26, 2013

National Archives at Kansas City

David Hawley to Discuss the Discovery of the Steamboat Arabia at the National Archives

For More Information Contact:
Kimberlee Ried, 816-268-8072

Kansas City, (MO)… On Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. the National Archives at Kansas City will host David Hawley, co-founder of the Arabia Steamboat Museum, for a discussion about the excavation, discovery, and preservation of the steamboat Arabia. A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the lecture.

Built in 1853, the Arabia was a side wheeler steamboat which hit a snag in the Missouri River and sank near present day Parkville, Missouri. The boat averaged five miles an hour going upstream and traveled the Ohio and Mississippi rivers before it was bought by Captain John Shaw, who operated the it on the Missouri River. Used to carry cargo and passengers Arabia traversed the Missouri from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to Fort Pierre, South Dakota, and eventually up the Yellowstone River. In spring of 1856, the boat was sold to Captain William Terrill and William Boyd, and it made fourteen trips up and down the Missouri during their ownership. In March, the Arabia collided with an obstacle, nearly sinking. A few weeks later the boat blew a cylinder head and had to be repaired again. The rest of the season was uneventful for the Arabia until September 5, 1856, when it hit a snag on the Missouri River and sunk.

In 1988, the Hawley family, along with family friends Jerry Mackey and David Luttrell, rediscovered the Arabia and its contents. Hawley will discuss the excavation and the artifacts recovered from the site now housed in the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

This lecture is part of the Between the Rivers program series, presented in conjunction with the Between the Rivers: Steamboating in Missouri and Iowa exhibition currently available for viewing at the National Archives.

To make a reservation for any of these free events call 816-268-8010 or email

About the Speaker

David Hawley, excavator, research, photographer, author, family man, has lived a life filled with opportunity. During childhood he spent many family vacations in Colorado on hunting and fishing trips. For many years Hawley has been an amateur photographer and took many of the photographs used at the Arabia Steamboat Museum and in his publications. He along with his father, brother, and family friends excavated the steamboat Arabia in 1988 near present day Parkville, Missouri. His family runs the Arabia Steamboat Museum which is dedicated to the preservation of the Arabia and its contents. Hawley is author of Treasures of the Steamboat Arabia.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 13 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to more than 50,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by nearly 100 Federal agencies. Serving the Central Plains Region, the archives holds records from the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The facility is located at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108. It is open to the public Tuesday - Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for research, with the exhibits open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit us online.

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