The Steamboat Arabia sank on the evening of September 5, 1856. The Arabia sank because it struck a snag. The snag was a huge trunk of a fallen walnut tree. The Steamboat Arabia was headed to Parkville, but sank a mile away. The sharpened point of the snag pierced the steamerís thick oak hull. The passengers aboard the Arabia were getting ready to eat dinner when a tree stump tore a hole in the Steamboat. As the ship's timbers gave way, the snag was thrust on the heart of the boat, the water poured into the hole and the ship began sinking quickly. When the boat started to sink, there was a wild scene on the Arabia. Some children almost fell into the water. The steamboat tilted sideways, which threw many passengers to the deck. The snag that sank the Arabia is now displayed in the museum. After a few minutes, most of the 222 tons of cargo lay at the bottom of the river.
There was only one lifeboat on the Arabia. Some men took the lifeboat and began to go to shore, but came back for the passengers. Fortunately for the passengers, the upper decks stayed above the water a while longer than the deck. They had less than 10 minutes to get all of the passengers off the Arabia. The passengers and crew nervously waited for the lifeboat to take them to shore.
The day after the Arabia sank, only the smokestacks and the top of the pilothouse remained visible. The smokestacks and the pilothouse disappeared in a few days, because they got swept away by the force of the river. The bottom of the Missouri River was very soft, so the boat and all of its cargo sank quickly in the mud. The merchandise and personal belongings were all lost to the river.
One of the passengers of the Steamboat Arabia on September 5th, 1856 was Mr. Able D. Kirk. He had just married near Peoria, Illinois, and was on his way to Nebraska with his wife.
This is the snag that sunk the Arabia. It is in the museum now.