Steamboat Malta excavation delayed to next fall, wonders of what may be found remain

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MALTA BEND, Mo. -- Efforts to recover a historic steamboat buried in a farm field in Missouri are being put on hold for a year.

David Hawley unearthed the Steamboat Arabia in a field near Kansas City nearly 30 years ago and created a museum based on his discovery.

Now he wants to unearth the Steamboat Malta that sunk 80 miles east of Kansas City.

He found it with a metal detector and mapped its location. So far he's found some gold buttons, pieces of a vase and some fabric. But because of flooding concerns, Hawley is putting his dig on hold until next fall.

He also plans to get a production company to document the dig.

"We are going to find a collection of things that no one's ever seen," Hawley said. "No one's ever uncovered an 1840's Indian trade ship ever before and to find over 100 tons of things, things that will confirm what we knew about that time in history, but there is so much that we don't know."

Once they begin digging next fall, Hawley says it will take about four months to unearth all the treasures.

"We've had a lot more rain than we typically than we normally have, and so if we get fall floods, if we get heavy rains between now and the end of the year and the river rises and floods, it will affect what we do here," Hawley added. "And it costs way too much money to risk that."