Everything is Up-to-Date in Kansas City – Traveling in Our Fabulous Gay World

Author: , July 14th, 2018

Kansas City - Donald and Ray

Kansas City, Missouri which is also called the “City of Fountains” has more fountains than any other city in the world other than Rome, Italy. With a metropolitan population of over 2 Million residents the city really does have it all, from the arts, sports, architecture, shopping and everything for tourists to do.

Kansas City - Donald and RayOur very favorite is the fabulous Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which is one of the finest Art Museums in the country. Directer Julian Zugazagoitia began his tenure 8 years ago and has done an absolutely outstanding job of creating a magnificent, what we call, ‘ The New Nelson-Atkins Museum. He has brought in exhibits that they never had before. Everyone is so proud of his accomplishments. Visitors from all over the nation visit it yearly. They have over 33,500 items including American and English paintings and sculptors and one of the finest Oriental Collection in the country. Check them out at: https://nelson-atkins.org/

Other museums to visit are the National Toy and Miniature Museum which is known around the country for being one of the finest of it’s kind. Check them out at: http://www.toyandminiaturemuseum.org/ The National World War I Museum and Memorial was erected in 1926 and has been updated thru the years and is a must see. Check them out at: https://www.theworldwar.org/

Kansas City - Donald and RayFor dining our two favorite restaurants are Cooper’s Hawk, located in the famous Country Club Plaza area. Senior General Manager, Jonathan Jue has perfected the art of blending fine food, with food presentation, ambiance and WINE! for a perfect dining experience. Besides fine dining they also offer the finest in a ‘wine experience’ in Kansas City. Whether you stop in for some wine or for a wonderful dining experience you will enjoy it all. Thanks Jonathan Jue or making this a great place to dine and wine! Their website is: https://chwinery.com/locations/missouri/kansas-city

Kansas City - Donald and RayAnother of our favorite restaurants is CAFE TRIO, just a couple blocks north of the Plaza. Christopher and Tai have been in business for years and have an extremely loyal following simply because they know how to treat customers and giving them a fine dining experience. Their service is top -notched. Happy hours are always packed with fun and interesting people. We have dined there several times and have never had a bad dining experience. Thanks Christopher and Tai. Your certainly know how to keep your customers coming back year after year! http://www.cafetriokc.com/

Kansas City - Donald and RayFor an enjoyable evening of entertainment we always enjoy one of the live productions at the UNICORN THEATRE, https://www.unicorntheatre.org/ They have been bringing bold and interesting live theatre to the area. They do not shy away from being innovative. They must being doing something right as they are celebrating their 44th year! Cynthia Levin has always been daring in presenting the finest in great plays. THANKS Cynthia!

And check out https://www.visitkc.com/#sm.000bfmutwji1dn310ys15wwjmho4q

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Kansas City Gay Travel Resources

George Washington Carver National Monument and Museum – Traveling in Our Fabulous Gay World

Author: , April 28th, 2018

George Washington Carver National Monument and Museum

George Washington Carver National Monument and MuseumJust 17 1/2 miles southwest of Joplin, Missouri in a very small town of Diamond, population of less than 1,000, is the George Washington Carver National Monument and Museum. Carver, a black American, was born in 1864 there and died in Tuskegee, Alabama on January in 1943.

Six months later the United States Congress designated the George Washington National Monument, the first park to honor an African American scientist, educator and humanitarian AND HE WAS “FAMILY”.

In her 2015 biography, Christina Vella reviews his relationships and “suggests that Carver was bisexual and constrained by mores of this historical period.” Carver is said to have enjoyed a very intimate relationship with his male assistant Austin W. Curtis Jr, a Cornell University graduate in chemistry who taught at a North Carolina College. This companionship, as it was seen at the time, helped Carver to continue working in his later years.

Carver was best known as the inventor of peanut butter but he was also a botanist, chemist, and inventor whose work revived the last 19th and early 20th century agricultural economy of the American South. He was born the son of slaves. He never knew his parents as his father died before he was born and his mother and his siblings were kidnapped during the Civil War and he never saw them again.

At a very early age, he knew that education was the only way to go. Later in life, he said, “A man can make a lot of money however another man can steal your money away, but another man can never steal your education.”

George Washington Carver National Monument and MuseumAfter going from school to school, he was finally accepted at a college in Kansas only to be told upon his arrival that because he was black, that he was not welcomed. That did not deter him and he did attend a college in Iowa and got both his Bachelors and Masters degree in Agriculture. Booker T. Washington, President of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) hired him to head the Agriculture Department there. He stayed there for over 47 years until his death.

He invented over 300 uses for the peanut including peanut butter, peanut oil, peanut shampoo, salted peanuts, shredded peanuts, pecan flour, pomade, and peanut brittle, He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton.

He was a highly sought after speaker all over the country and in England. He was given dozens of awards for his works. In 1921 he gave a captivating testimony before Congress on Agriculture. He inspired hundreds of both students as well as businessmen and farmers to understand what they could do.

George Washington Carver National Monument and MuseumCarver was also a gifted artist and some of his paintings and drawings are on display at the museum. He also enjoyed crocheting and a couple examples of those are also on display. Needless to say Carver had a very rough early life but he rose above it and became a truly great person.

TIME magazine called him the “Black Leonardo da Vinci” as he was such a Renaissance man. And this all started with him in the 1800’s! And people today complain about having problems! Carver MADE his life as he wanted to. Sure he had setbacks but that did not stop him. Guess the old adage, “Never, never, never, never give up” rings true.

Learn more about George Washington Carver by viewing this movie: https://www.nps.gov/gwca/learn/photosmultimedia/multimedia.htm

The website for his National Monument is https://www.nps.gov/gwca/index.htm

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Missouri Gay Travel Resources

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Overlook Farm on the Mississippi

Author: , July 29th, 2017

Overlook Farm

Sometimes we want to go someplace and relax and we do mean REALLY relax.  Earlier this month we drove to the Overlook Farm located in Clarksville, Missouri right on the Mississippi River about 75 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri.  It is a 327 acre working farm.

Fish to fowl to honey, or eggs to herbs, their vast farm offerings are cultivated following organic practices.  Animals are raised on a renewable feast of fresh grass and are in wide open spaces.  They have 26 ‘hoop houses’ and 5 greenhouses where a huge variety of produce is grown year round.  They even have tomatoes in January!

Under the professional and very caring guidance of the fifth generation owner, Nathalie Pettus, the “Farm” now includes award-wining Inns, farm to table restaurants and premier event venues.   It is all nestled into the pastures and hillsides of the operating farm.

Cedarcrest ManorFor lodging we stayed in the magnificent Cedarcrest Manor which is an Antebellum estate.  It was built by Captain Benjamin Clifford who was a prominent riverboat captain.  Cedarcrest Manor began it’s life as a plantation home and soon became the archetype for a number of houses built in the Mississippi River Valley.

Cedarcrest ManorIt is a grand Manor estate and has lovingly been restored by the owner. Oversized Jacuzzi tubs and plush , comfy bathrobes are a feature in every room, offering the utmost in relaxation.  In-suite coffee makers provide instant access to a morning pick-me-up.

Cedarcrest ManorThey have a huge swimming pool and the gardens are everywhere.

Other guests stay in the Rackheath House just  just down the road. It was built in 1860 and completely restored in 2006.  it is Greek revival-style manor featuring sprawling ground, a spacious veranda and a flourishing garden filled with walking paths.

Other guests might want to stay at the Avalon House which is fully furnished with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen and a wrap-around-deck.  It has the most breath-taking views on the property overlooking the Mississippi River.   You can rent the entire house for a family gathering or business retreat.  There is also a Bridal Cottage which provides an intimate space for couples to get away for the weekend.  It is perched above the meadow, surrounded by rolling hills and has spectacular views of the sunrise and sunsets.  It has a  full kitchen.

The farm itself is a place to roam around and see how things are really meant to be… the orchards of fruits, hogs, cattle, chickens.  And you can purchase eggs, meat and fruits, etc. right there !

You can check out their website at: www.overlookfarmmo.com and you can call them at 573.242.3838.  You can also email them at  info@overllookfarmmo.com

Owner Nathalie Pettus has truly done a fabulous job in restoring this magnificent farm and keeping it updated.  It is truly a lifetime experience that will be in your memory forever!  Their staff is extremely professional and friendly.

Clarksville, Missouri is a very small town.  Actually the population is only about 430 people.   From downtown on the banks of the Mississippi River you can see the locks which controls the flow for barges.  A very interesting place to visit in downtown Clarksville is the 1845 Historic Elgin/Cottrell House Museum at 209 South First Street.  Owner Richard Cottrell has filled this two story house with the finest of the fine antiques!  Every room is filled from top to bottom with extraordinary antiques and from the Victorian era.  This is a ‘must see’ for anyone in the area.  It really is remarkable!

Visit their website at http://myoldhistorichouse.blogspot.com/

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Missouri Gay Travel Resources

Cabin Collinwood – Gay Guesthouse in Festus, Missouri

Author: , July 27th, 2017

Cabin Collinwood

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay:

Built log-by-log in 1982 by the proprietor’s late father, The Cabin Collinwood guesthouse is a country home with modern amenities! From its dovetail corners and creaky wood floors, to the natural wildlife and birds—the effect is that of living in a tree-house!

Nestled in the heart of the countryside a quick 35-mile drive from downtown St. Louis via I-55, The Cabin Collinwood is perfectly located for weekend breaks or leisurely mid-week getaways, with nearby antique & flea markets, shopping, wineries, country adventures, fishing, rivers and floating, swimming, camping, hiking, or perhaps a quick trip south to historic St. Genevieve. Twenty minutes away, you’ll find the quaint Mississippi River town of Kimmswick, replete with specialty shops, restaurants, and festivals that draw people from all over the country and region.

A little closer—the “Twin Cities” of Festus and Crystal City, where you’ll find eateries, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks/ATM’s, and “Richard’s Fresh Produce” market. Don’t forget to check out “Main & Mill” for a great burger and some of their micro-brewery craft beers! And just under five miles to the west: a stop at Wild Sun Winery where you’ll experience some of Missouri’s finest wines as part of your Jefferson County memories!

Get away from everything for that hike in the woods in some of the best parks in the nation, visit nearby rivers, relax with a huge library of in-house movies, and take some great naps! If you can’t quite “cut the cord” during your stay, our free Wi-Fi will help to keep you connected. The Cabin Collinwood is all about casual comfort on a heavily-wooded lot in a small private subdivision. It’s a great place to experience both country and city living whether you head south to get even further away from it all (and to some great historic areas), or head to the city for all that St. Louis has to offer! Should you wish, we’ll even help plan your itinerary start to finish!

Meet Me In St. Louis!

When you’re ready for the tourist attractions that make St. Louis unique, a quick ride from The Cabin Collinwood delivers you to the St. Louis Zoo for the day (still free), the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Art Museum, Forest Park and the legendary outdoor Muny Opera, City Museum, Ted Drewe’s famous frozen custard, Crown Candy Kitchen, Anheuser-Busch brewery tours, Grant’s Farm, Six Flags, the historic Soulard neighborhood with its blend of restaurants, the nightlife of University City and Chuck Berry’s “Blueberry Hill” and the St. Louis Walk of Fame, world-famous Italian restaurants in “The Hill” neighborhood, old-town Central West End, or maybe a Cardinals baseball game! These are but a few of the things to see and do, and you’ll find it all in St. Louis!

At day’s end, come “home” to The Cabin Collinwood to relax. You’ll have private bedrooms and semi-private baths, and shared common areas including the kitchen, living room, and two covered porches. See our web site for complete details and booking info.

See the Cabin Collinwood Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Missouri

Old Caledonian Bed & Breakfast – Gay Friendly Caledonia B&B

Author: , July 26th, 2017

Old Caledonian Bed & Breakfast

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay:

Welcome to the Old Caledonian Bed & Breakfast, located just 80 minutes south of St. Louis in the Village of Caledonia, Missouri.

The Old Caledonian B&B is on the National Register of Historic places, and is in the Ruggles-Evans-Dent House built in 1849. We offer vintage luxury, outstanding cuisine and incredible local destinations to make your stay a memorable experience for which we hope you will wish to return again and again.

Each guest room has a private bath and incredible, top-of-the-line linens and bedding. The house, with its beautifully preserved brick and woodwork, makes for a lovely setting to enjoy the spacious seating areas, dining room and library. Our four acres of manicured grounds are a great escape from life’s hustle and bustle. Our stately gazebo, peaceful koi pond, private patio and lovely gardens are country relaxation at its finest.

Our amazing breakfasts, included in your stay, are prepared by one of our owners who was an executive chef for 25 years. We often include house made sausages, hams and bacons in our morning meals; in addition to locally sourced produce, vegetables from our own garden, homemade breads and signature dishes. Also, our afternoon teatime, served between 4-6:00 pm is included, and features a wide selection of teas, and an assortment of sweet and savory treats all served on antique china. We can also prepare three-course dinners by prior arrangement, which win raves from our guests. Please see our website for more info, and call or email to arrange your dinner! We also offer a great selection of wine and beer.

We are located right on Caledonia’s Main Street, and within a short drive of several of Missouri’s most popular state parks, historic sites and attractions including Johnson Shut-Ins State Park, Elephant Rocks State Park, Washington State Park and the Battle of Pilot Knob Historic Site. We also have opportunities for great antiquing in our immediate area.

Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or a quiet, relaxing retreat, we here at the Old Caledonian Bed & Breakfast are looking forward to having you as our guests. Please check out our website, read our outstanding reviews, and come visit us here in Caledonia. Cheers!

See the PROPERTY Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in AREA

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Fourth of July Mark Twain Riverboat Cruise

Author: , July 7th, 2017

 

hannibal mark twain riverboat cruise

We were trying to think of something very special to do for the 4th of July this year and we found the perfect thing to do. From Kansas City, we drove over to Hannibal, Mo. (hometown of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain) and took a cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat on the mighty Mississippi River.

Captain Steve and his wife Sandy have owned the Mark Twain Riverboat for over 20 years and although we have taken other Riverboat cruises in the country, this one is the best and most professional one to take. The boat is immaculately clean and the crew is extremely professional and friendly. They all know what they are doing and they do it right! You can either take a regular sightseeing cruise or if you prefer you can take a 2 hour dinner cruise which includes a fine buffet dinner as well as live musical  entertainment.

The Captain gives a great narrative of the history of Hannibal, Mark Twain and a VERY interesting tale of Lover’s Leap which is located just downstream from Hannibal.  His story on Lover’s Leap gives a new meaning to the sign that you see on the highways around the country, “Watch For Falling Rock”.  We learned that Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain was a Riverboat pilot and that the name Mark Twain actually means two fathoms deep.

We thought that we heard upstairs at the front of riverboat Paul Robeson singing “Ol’ Man River”, however perhaps it was just our imagination. We were in “Movie Show Boat Heaven”!

You can sit anywhere on the 3 decks (both inside and outside) and watch out the windows as you view the riverbanks and walk to the top of the boat deck and get an eyeful of scenery. Both cruises take you to two States, both Missouri as well as Illinois. BE sure and take your camera / smart phone and take plenty of photos.  For those people that are really into Riverboats, this boat is not a paddle-wheeler, but a diesel prop. The Riverboat has a 400 passenger capacity and it was build in 1964.  It is  120 feet long and 33 feet wide.

For more information, check out: https://marktwainriverboat.com/ You can also email them directly at info@marktwainriverboat.com or give them a call at  573 . 221 . 3222. They are located right downtown Hannibal at the Center Street Landing.  The Riverboat runs 7 days a week. They have a huge FREE parking area right in front where you enter.

If you have never been on a Riverboat cruise, be SURE and go to Hannibal, Mo. and take this Mark Twain Riverboat  cruise. You will be glad that you did.  We certainly enjoyed ourselves as well as our traveling companions, Jan, Roy and Margye.
Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Don and Ray

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Missouri Gay Travel Resources

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Kansas City Rally/Protest

Author: , January 21st, 2017

Kansas City Protest

Kansas City ProtestOver a thousand people in greater Kansas City, MO attended a special Anti Prez Trump Inauguration Day protest today. The Rally began at the World War I Museum which is across the street from the Union Station.

Several speakers spoke and then the parade went through the streets of Kansas City began and everyone walked about a mile to City Hall. A VERY heavy Police presence was on high alert on horseback, on foot and patrol cars. They even had a couple of drones to check things out. Fortunately the rally and parade were a peaceful one and without any problems at all.

Kansas City ProtestThere was a very large variety of people at the rally… Mothers and Fathers with their babies, Gays and Lesbians, Jews, Blacks, Muslims and hundreds of United States citizens who are simply fed up with the new direction that the country is going. They ranged in ages from toddlers to people in their 80’s. At City Hall more speakers addressed the audience.

Kansas City ProtestIt was an event that everyone was thrilled with and very glad that they attended. They had pallbearers that carried a casket in the parade representing the death of America.

At some point in life, being quiet is simply NOT an option. Each of us needs to stand up and be counted. There needs to be a place at the table for EVERYONE ! Be safe and sane, but we all have to stand up for our rights.

Kansas City Protest

Kansas City Protest

Kansas City Protest

Kansas City Protest

Kansas City Protest

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Missouri Gay Travel Resources

Kansas City: Country Club Plaza

Author: , November 16th, 2016

Country Club Plaza

Country Club PlazaOne of the hi-lights of our recent visits to Kansas City was the trip to Country Club Plaza – a lovely, historic shopping center about four miles south of Downtown.

Country Club PlazaKansas City is known for its many beautiful fountains – supposedly the most in any US city – and many of them are in Country Club Plaza. There is also some great art throughout the center. Originally built in 1922 on what was once a dumping ground and hog farm, the Plaza sits on 55 acres that were acquired, parcel by parcel, by JC Nichols.

Country Club PlazaWhat Nichols built there was revolutionary. The first master-planned outdoor shopping center designed to accommodate a new invention – the automobile. Built with a Spanish theme, the architecture of Country Club Plaza recalls both the US Southwest and some of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. It’s an unexpected but welcome surprise in a city in the Midwest.

After a flood in the 1970’s, the Plaza was revamped, and an influx of chain stores came into the center.

Country Club PlazaThat was the main problem we had with this beautiful center – the architecture is amazing, and the location by Brush Creek makes for some great photo opportunities. But the stores are the same stores you’ll find in any mall in any part of the country. We were hoping for some great local shops where we could purchase something to take home as a momento. But most of what we saw were stores like Banana Republic, Tiffany and Williams-Sonoma.

There was one stand-out exception. Near the Western end of the Plaza, we found a little place called Phoenix Gallery. The store had a great and eclectic selection of art and knick knacks, much of it moderately priced, and we found a beautiful watercolor print of the center there that we ended up having shipped home.

Country Club Plaza
jack-stack-barbequeAnother stand-out – Jack’s Stack Barbecue. If you’ve never tried Kansas City BBQ, you should, and this is a great place to do it. It’s on thie Eastern end of the Plaza. It’s got that dark steakhouse thing going on – a little heavy on the “ambiance – but the food was amazing. We had the BBQ chicken, and then I enjoyed the bread pudding with a creamy rum sauce. Put this place on your agenda for your next trip.

Country Club Plaza is well worth a look, if only for the amazing architecture and a few stand-out stores.

Kansas City Gay Travel Resources

More photos below:

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza

Kansas City – Union Station

Author: , November 11th, 2016

We’re continuing our reporting from our exploration of Kansas City – this time, Union Station. 🙂

Union Station - Kansas City

Union Station - Kansas CityMany cities have Union Stations, but Kansas City’s is particularly beautiful.

The station opened in 1914, an impressive stone edifice accommodating hundreds of thousands of passengers a year.

It was even the site of a massacre – mobster Frank Nash was shot and killed, along with four law enforcement officers who were escorting him, in 1933, just outside the building.

Union Station - Kansas CityThe station was closed down in the 1980’s, and sat empty for years, slowly deteriorating. Then in 1996, voters in Missouri and Kansas passed an initiative to fund the restoration of the beautiful building.

Union Station - Kansas CityAnd it’s now an amazing jewel in the city’s crown. Housing several restaurants (including one of our favorites from the trip, Harvey’s), the station also has a museum that’s now hosting an exhibit on Pompeii.

Union Station - Kansas CityThere’s also an ongoing rail exhibit, a planetarium, and an interactive science center.

And you can even still catch a train there – it’s a regular Amtrak stop. You can also catch the city’s new light rail train that runs to and from downtown, just outside the station.

Standing inside, it’s fun to try to imagine what it was like a hundred years ago. From some of the old photos, the two story Harvey’s looks like it was probably the ticket windows. And as you can see from the photo below, the station practically thrummed with life.

Union Station - Kansas City

If you’re visiting Kansas City, try to find time to see this beautiful station, and grab a bite at Harvey’s.

Union Station - Kansas City

Union Station - Kansas City

Union Station - Kansas City

Union Station - Kansas City

Union Station - Kansas City

Kansas City – The Steamboat Arabia

Author: , November 11th, 2016

steamboat-arabia-01

We just recently returned from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, and we’re sharing some of the things we experienced there.

We saw two museums – the World War I Museum, which was Mark’s favorite, and The treasures of the Steamboat Arabia, which was mine.

steamboat-arabia-02The story of the Arabia takes place against the backdrop of manifest destiny and the rush to the West. In 1856, just before the civil war, the states were evenly divided, north and south, an agreement that had held the country together in an uneasy alliance. States were opened up one in the south and one in the north, together, so as not to shatter this pact.

When the US government broke this alliance by opening up both Kansas and Nebraska at the same time, they agreed to let the states choose their own alliance based on who settled there, and the race was on.

steamboat-arabia-08The Steamboat Arabia set off down the Missouri River in early September, 1856, loaded down with supplies to open ten general stores in new townships. The Missouri River banks had been heavily logged to provide enough wood to power the steamships, and the resulting stumps fell into the fiver as the banks eroded, floating downriver and eventually sinking and creating upstream facing snags, making the downstream passage for boats very dangerous.

steamboat-arabia-14The Steamboat Arabia hit one of these snags and sank. Its sinking was slow enough that everyone aboard escaped alive except for one mule who was tied to the ship. The ship eventually reached the bottom of the river and sunk into the silt there, with almost all of its cargo.

Flash forward to the 1980’s, when a representative of an air conditioning company was talking with a client who had a map of the estimated locations of sunken steamships. The man went home to his family and said “we could find one of these.”

They did tons of research, and finally thought they had located one of the ships, in a field about a mile and a half from the current banks of the Missouri River. The family contacted the farmer, who said he would allow them to search, but thought they would come up empty, as others had before them.

steamboat-arabia-03They used a powerful metal detector that could “see” far underground. And they got a hit. And another. And another.

Sinking rods down into the soil like a real-life version game of Battleship, they outlined what lay under the soil. A steamship.

steamboat-arabia-04The family waited until winter when the soil would be harder, and then started to dig. The boat lay below the level of the water table, so six huge pumps were needed to keep the dig above water.

The family had planned to sell off the treasures, if found, to make a mint and presumably retire early. But when they found and opened the first barrel and pulled out a beautiful piece of undamaged fine china, they realized it would be a crime to split up this collection.

steamboat-arabia-06They had one more barrier to surmount. The farmer who had permitted them to dig on his land was due 15% of their profits. They approached him and he surprised them. He agreed that it should be kept together, and instead of 15%, asked only for 15 items of his own choosing.

And so the museum was born.

The family used their cold storage facilities to keep the artifacts safe until they could figure out the best way to restore them.

steamboat-arabia-05One more challenge – they cut off the rear section of the boat, but if it was allowed to dry, the wood would crumble into splinters. So they kept it soaked for a year and a half until they discovered a technique that would fill the wood with a substance – I want to say polyurethane? – that would push the water out and hold the wood together. That took another two years of daily sprays.

steamboat-arabia-10The museum is a wonder. It has opened a window into a period of time from which we have few relics in good condition. The chill and the water preserved the treasures so well that one of the guys who dug up the boat ate one of the pickles – from 1856 – and said it tasted as fresh as if it had just been bottled.

What boggles the mind about this museum is the sheer quantity of the goods. They have tens or hundreds of EVERYTHING, and almost all of it looks like it was made yesterday.

More photos below. It’s truly an amazing experience – if you are in KC, make time to go see this little time capsule of American history.

Missouri Gay Travel Resources

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