Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Monday, August 21, 2017

A small diversion

Heading north to Sioux City, SD along the western edge of Iowa, we realized that we would be passing very close to the town of Tabor, IA.  My fraternal great aunt Martha lived there most her life.  Her family played an important role in my father’s life during his early years, as his father died in an accident when he and his brother were very young.  My grandmother found herself having to take care of them while earning a living just as the great depression was approaching.  As a result, her sister took care of the boys most summers on their Iowa farm.  As I and my siblings grew up, we visited the Iowa farm a number of times.  I always remember these visits as being a great time. 

Flash forward to the late 80’s, my family was traveling out west in our motorhome.  We planned to stop in Tabor around my Aunt Martha’s 90th birthday.  She was still very active and told us that she was helping out at the retirement home in town with the senior residents. We had a very nice visit and as it turned out, it was the last time we saw her.

We were certain that she would be buried in Tabor but had no idea where.  We found the town cemetery and decided just to walk around in search of the grave site.  There were some men sprucing up the grounds, so I asked if they knew where she might be buried (it is a very small town).  He smiled and said that there were a lot of Daltons buried there, but pointed us in the general direction to start our search. There are indeed a lot of Dalton’s resting here.  Luckily, we did find her and her family’s grave stones. 

We made one other stop at the Lewis and Clark State Park to see several full-size replicas of the river boats.  In the summer, they offer rides on the boats in the park lake.  They also have a campground with sites along the lake. 

Our final stop was the Sioux City south KOA.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Steamboat Arabia

Our last stop before leaving Kansas City was the Steamboat Arabia museum.  This is a fascinating story about the Hawley family, who operates a Heating and AC business that became interested in wrecked steamboats on the Missouri River. They started studying the history of wrecked steamboats and how to find them.  In total, they spent 20 years learning and searching for lost vessels.  The search was made more difficult because over the decades the river changed its course many times both naturally and thru the efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation.

Finally, they located a large vessel deep in the soil of a farm field miles from the current river location.  That wreck turned out to be the Arabia lost on its maiden voyage carrying a large amount of cargo and settlers up river.  No one lost their life in the wreck, but the ship and cargo was a total loss.

The Hawley’s plan was to salvage the wreck and sell whatever contents they could to offset their costs.  The farmer agreed to a small percentage to allow them to dig up his property.

It turned into a massive project beyond their original expectations.  What changed the whole scope of the project was the discovery of over 200 tons of perfectly preserved cargo that was a time capsule of life and goods of the time.  In the end, they decided that the recovered materials could not be just sold off for a profit, but needed to be persevered for history.

We were fortunate enough to have one of the family members, who led the search and recovery of the artifacts tell us their story.  He ended by saying that it seems like today, that the AC business is more a hobby and the museum and search for more vessels is their job.

Today, you can learn all about the Arabia and cargo and the lives of people who were on the edge of the American frontier at the time.  In the end, it is also the story of the family and friends who devoted so much of their time to finding and preserving this amazing history.

This is another must see museum.