The Hawleys were already treasure hunters. Their old hobby was to hunt for gold, and they had no academic background. The Hawleys spent time researching the Arabia. They went to the National Archives in Washington D.C. and other libraries and courthouses. They used all of their personal time for the Arabia dig. The excavation had cost 1.4 million dollars, but they had thought it would cost 60 thousand dollars.
David Hawley Interview
1)Did you know how much cargo was in the Arabia before you dug it up?
“No, we didn’t. We had to dig up the boat to find out how much. We couldn’t find a manifest. We did find a newspaper article that talked about the names of the stores and how many boxes that each lost, but we didn’t know for sure what was in the boxes until we dug up the boat.”
2)What are the names of the people who dug up the Arabia?
“Well, there was my dad, his name is Bob Hawley; my brother, Greg Hawley, and we had some other guys - Jerry Mackey, Dave Luttrell, and myself, David Hawley. That was the five of us who started it.”
3)Would you still have done the dig if you knew it would cost so much?
“That’s a really good question. I’m not sure. We would have certainly thought about it a little longer.” 4)How did you feel when the dig was over?
“We’ll, we felt like the fun part was over, the dig was the fun part. Then we had to start cleaning things, and that wasn’t nearly as fun as the digging part.”
5)What was the biggest problem for you in the dig?
“The water was the hardest part, because the water was always trying to come in, and that was the hardest thing to get out. So that was the hardest part, and it was cold too, and there was a lot of dirt to move. But the hardest part was the water.”
6)Was having no academic background a problem?
“Nope, didn’t seem to be. Even people who we talked to that were conservationists, preservation people and excavation people. Even to them it would have been a hard thing. I think, and quite a few frankly, because we didn’t know, we weren’t concerned about the problems, because we weren’t familiar with them, and that didn’t bother us. So maybe it made it easier because we didn’t have an academic background.”
7)If you could remake the choice of the museum or the auction, what would you choose?
“Oh, we’d do the museum again. That was a good choice.”
8)Where did you get so adventuresome?
“Well, I don’t know. I think it sort of comes…well, I just don’t know. It just sounded like a fun thing to do.”
9)Did you take time off work to do this project?
“Uh huh, we did. We worked a little bit, too. But we dug probably more than we worked at our real jobs.”
10)How exactly did you get into the refrigeration business?
“Well, my dad started it. He was in that business. I helped carry his tools around. I just learned by working with him.”
11)Being in the refrigeration business, did this help you any?
“I think so. I think that we learned to be electricians, and be engineers, and to be troubleshooters and fix things. That was what the boat dig was. To try to do it, so I think that helped.”
12)What do you think your biggest success was?
“Our biggest success? Well, I think, finding a way to display artifacts, clean them, get them on display, and surviving in the business world for 10 years is pretty good.”
13)Where did you store the items once you dug it up?
“We kept most of it in coolers in a restaurant’s freezer - in Jerry Mackey’s restaurant. That’s where we kept them, until we opened the museum.”
14)What was your favorite artifact?
“My favorite things were the pie fillings - the blueberries, the cherries, the apples - things like that. Those were good ones just because they’re real colorful.”
15)Did you have any similar experiences to the excavation of the Arabia?
“Ah, no, not really, that was a pretty unique thing. We have never done anything like that before or since, but we’d like to do it again someday, maybe with an older boat. We’ll see."