Before the Arabia
Jerry Mackey, Bob Hawley, Greg Hawley, David Hawley and David Luttrell researched and found a lot of information about numerous steamboats that sank in the Missouri River. They looked through books and old newspapers. They found out that the newspapers were actually a lot more helpful than the books. They looked in the newspapers for headings similar to these: ‘Serious Accident’, ‘Lives Lost’, ‘Steamer Sunk’, or ‘Boiler Explosion’. After researching many steamboats, they were most interested in these steamboats: Mollie Dozier, E. A. Ogden, Twilight, Mars, William Baird, Princess, Arabia, Radnor, George Washington, and a nameless steamboat that sank near Boonville, Missouri. When they found out that the steamboats were probably on dry land, they knew they had to gain permission to dig on other landowners' property.
One of the first steamboats they started looking for was a steamboat that sank near Franklin, Missouri. When they got permission from the landowners, they searched the field for metal with a magnetometer. Their hopes were high when the magnetometer signaled it had found something. They drilled and dug. They were highly disappointed when they only found a steel cable.
The steamboat George Washington sank in 1826, and the Radnor sank in 1846. They both hit snags. The George Washington carried government supplies. The Radnor carried general supplies. They searched for the Radnor and George Washington. After months of searching, the results were not good. They decided to try to find a different steamboat.
The steamboat Mars carried general merchandise. It sank on July 8, 1865. They got permission and started to dig. They detected a large signal, and were sure it was the Mars. But there were some installed pipes, so they could not excavate the Mars. They would hit the pipes if they continued to dig, and going around the pipes was very hard to do. So they left the Mars. Near Napoleon, Missouri, the Steamboat Princess sank on July 1, 1868. They located the Princess. The only thing they found was a steel tugboat.
The largest steamboat they were interested in digging for was steamboat E. A. Ogden. It sank in February 1860, and carried military supplies and gold. It was located about six miles above Jefferson City. They found the E. A. Ogden, but the excavation was expensive and impossible, so they left the E. A. Ogden, as well.
The Mollie Dozier was the steamboat they tried to locate next. It hit a tree snag and sank on October 1, 1866. They searched and read another newspaper article about the ship. It said that the crew unloaded the ship's cargo and fixed their boat. They did not know which article was correct, so they decided to move on.
The William Baird sank in 1858. It struck a snag. The Tropic sank in the same place. On the first day they were searching for William Baird, they got a signal on their magnetometer. They started digging. They found a steamboat, but it wasn't the right one. They returned to the field a few days later, and found another steamboat! At first, they did not know which steamboat they found. Then they found out it was the steamboat William Baird! They started digging. There was only one problem; the stern of the William Baird was under a Corps of Engineer's levee. They dug the forward end and found some dishes, dolls, a fishhook, broken furniture and many iron chairs. The Corps of Engineers would have charged them $100,000 dollars to move the levee and put it back after the dig. This was a problem because they had a limited budget, so they had to find another steamboat.
The steamboat Twilight was another one of those steamboats that struck a snag. It sank in 1865. They drilled the earth after locating it. All they found was a brass label from a can of sardines.
The only steamboat, after three years of researching, locating, and digging, that they had not yet attempted to find was the Great White Arabia.