Today my wife and I are heading over to Kansas City, where they're really up-to-date (a brownie point for whoever gets the movie reference!). Our first stop this weekend will be at the Recruits convention in Lee's Summit, MO. I'll hook up with Baron J of the EvE blog for a western skirmish game, and hopefully trade some painted "Pony Wars" figures in 25mm at the silent auction. Recruits is a popular convention, drawing folks from as far afield as Texas and Minnesota. This will be our first time there and I'm looking forward to a good time. Afterwards, we'll be heading into Kansas City itself and a trip to the Arabia steamboat museum.
A classic riverboat of pre-Civil War days, her career on the Missouri River came to an inglorious end in August 1856 when she struck a submerged tree and sank. Over time the river shifted course by a half-mile and her grave became a cornfield. It was located and excavated not long ago, and the wreck proved to be a time capsule of Victoriana.
Bundles of goods belonging to pioneers on their way out west were found. Far from the drab image generated from black and white photos of the era, their clothing – especially that of the ladies – proved colorful and delightfully delicate. Boots, tools, equipment of all kinds, all wonderfully preserved. Several crates of sweet pickles in sealed glass bottles were also recovered – and they proved edible!
Doesn’t the wreck paint a poignant picture? Imagine those poor pioneer folks of so long ago, keyed up with the excitement and anxiety of starting a new life. What stories they could tell us today, stories full of hardship and danger, but success too. They lost their belongings in the wreck, but at least their lives were preserved. Who knows, someone among the passengers of the Arabia may be an ancestor of yours.