Recovered: Missouri's First Steamboat Disaster...On Display For The First Time At Arabia Steamboat Museum

For Immediate Release – November 20, 2013 Contact – David Hawley or Conor Carey (816) 471-1856

Recovered: Missouri’s First Steamboat Disaster…On Display For The First Time At Arabia Steamboat Museum

Kansas City – The Arabia Steamboat Museum is proud to announce an historic addition to our exhibit. At 7:00 a.m. Friday, November 22, 2013 the steam engine from the first steamer ever lost to the Missouri River will be lifted by crane from a flatbed trailer and lowered onto a new display. The engine, from the wreck of the Missouri Packet, is believed to have been built in 1819 by Prentice & Bakewell’s Air Foundry and Steam Engine Factory, of Louisville, Kentucky. This 5,000 pound engine is the oldest of its kind known to exist in the United States. The engine was lost when the boat sank in the treacherous Missouri River near Arrow Rock in May 1820. Just one year earlier, in 1819, the Independence was the first steamboat to venture up the river from St. Louis. The Missouri Packet was a 60 ton steamboat measuring 120’ in length. It was discovered by the same excavation team that uncovered the steamboat Arabia. Little cargo remained aboard the vessel, but the engine remained intact. Since few examples of maritime steam engines from this early period exist, it will be of great importance to historical researchers. As steamboat expert Louis C. Hunter noted in Steamboats On The Western Rivers, “We know disappointingly little of the early stages in the evolution of the western steam engine.” Now a significant piece of this fascinating story can be told.

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