Arabia Steamboat Museum considering move

Thursday, May 19, 2016
Arabia Steamboat Museum Co-Owner David Hawley shows pieces of wood recovered from the buried steamboat to students from the Malta Bend School District at the future excavation site Friday, March 4. Hawley said the pine wood is believed to have come from the boat's deck while the oak wood is believed to have come from the boat's hull and cargo hold. The wood was recovered from drilling as far as 52 feet beneath the surface to map out the steamboat's dimensions and confirm its identity. (Arron Hustead/Democrat-News)

The eventual home of the historic steamboat Malta could be on the move.

The Arabia Steamboat Museum made headlines in March after announcing plans to potentially excavate another sunken steamboat along the Missouri River. After a three-year search, David Hawley discovered the location of the Malta, which sank in 1841, beneath a corn field north of Malta Bend. Hawley and his family, owners of the museum, previously excavated the steamboat Arabia near Parkville, Mo., in the 1980s, and planned to display the artifacts recovered from the Malta alongside the Arabia in their Kansas City museum.

However, housing collections from both steamboats could require more space than the museum has at its current facility, Hawley said. As a result, other sites are now receiving consideration as a potential new home for the museum, including one in Saline County. Hawley met last week with Friends of Arrow Rock President Tom Hall about finding a suitable location in the historic village. He also reported plans to travel to Boonville Thursday, May 19, to explore options there.

"I'm in no particular rush to make a decision as to where such a facility should be, but I do want to explore any option that presents itself," Hawley said.

If everything goes according to plan, the museum will be able to begin excavating the Malta this coming winter.

Contact Arron Hustead at

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  • What about displaying it in Malta Bend? Surely they could find a place there and that might bring some much needed revenue to that town. Or even Marshall.

    -- Posted by old&cranky on Fri, May 20, 2016, at 8:04 AM
    Response by Arron Hustead:
    While that would be great for Malta Bend, it may not be the most beneficial location for the museum. Like anything else, it's a business, and it would probably be a better business decision to select a location that already has other tourist attractions.
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