In 1856, the Steamboat Arabia struck the trunk of a fallen tree while cruising down the Missouri river. It was making a routine journey with plenty of cargo (approximately 200 tons) that was to be sold in various towns, such as clothing, shoes, and medicine. Within minutes, water filled the hull of the boat and it began its descent to the bottom of the river.
Luckily, everyone on board managed to escape and swim to safety. Unfortunately, there was a forgotten mule tied to the deck, which ended up drowning.
After the Steamboat Arabia sank below the surface, it settled in with the mud and silt, and before long, it disappeared completely. The strong current of the river swept it away.
For 132 years, it remained hidden — no one was able to track down its location. But then in 1987, Bob Hawley and his sons made the incredible discovery.
Growing up, his family always talked about the legends of the missing steamboat. So, with a handful of old maps and a proton magnetometer they set off to find it.
Finally, they discovered the fabled boat a half mile from the river where it originally sank. Come to find out, it was buried 45 feet deep beneath a Kansas farm.
On November 26, 1988, the Steamboat Arabia was excavated. But it was what they found inside that was the real treasure.
Apparently, everything inside was so well preserved that there were pickles in jars that tasted as fresh as the day they were packed.
Check out the slideshow above to see what Hawley and his crew unearthed.
Today, the items are on display at the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, including the skeletal remains of that poor mule.