The National Steamboat Museum was the featured presenter Wednesday at the monthly meeting of One Million Cups at State Fair Community College's Thompson Conference Center.

Representing the Museum was Bill Stouffer of Marshall. Stouffer has a wealth of knowledge about the proposed museum and the steamboat era, which spanned some 50 years.

A feasibility study has been completed and plans call for a museum to be built on 18 acres just southwest of Marshall Junction at I-70 and Highway 65.

It is hoped that the museum, which will feature Missouri River steamboats from the 1820s through the 1870s that sunk and have been dug up & restored, will attract thousands of visitors each year from all across the country and beyond.

The museum will be built in five stages, Stouffer said, and will include a steamboat from each of the six decades steamboats were the dominant mode of transportation for goods until the railroads took over for nearly half a century.

Currently the only museum of its kind in Missouri is the Arabia Steamboat Museum at 400 Grand Boulevard in Kansas City. The Arabia sank in 1856 and the remains were salvaged and a museum opened Nov. 13, 1991. The company's lease is set to expire in 2026 and parking there is limited.

“We will be acquiring the assets of the Arabia,” stated Stouffer. That will be the first steamboat on display at the new location, and the Malta steamboat will be the second. Every five to seven years, another steamboat will be added to the collection, until six salvaged steamboats are on display at the National Steamboat Museum.

Those sounds like tall plans, but a fund-raising effort is under way to facilitate the construction. According to nationalsteamboatmuseum-marshalljunction.com, sponsorship opportunities are available, and donors can become an associate member for $100, a member for $500, a charter member for $1,000, a sponsor for $2500 or a founder for $5000.

Stouffer feels the museum in Saline County will be a tremendous compliment to the Missouri State Fair and Pettis County, as well as Lafayette County.

Souffer noted that around 37,000 vehicles travel through Marshall Junction on a daily basis, and there is a population of 532,725 within a hour's drive of the proposed site, and nearly seven-and-a-half million living within a three-hour drive. And a number of colleges with students who be interested in the archeological findings that will be on display there. The museum will also have an interactive aspect to it as well.

The 5013c company has worked with prominent planning company PGAV to assess Marshall Junction as an appropriate location for the National Steamboat Museum.

Stouffer noted that the idea has already gained national attention when national Geographic TV recently aired a “Drain The Oceans” program which focused on the Arabia for half of the show (Season 4, Episode 1 of The Wild West).

Stouffer added that he can envision an upscale hotel eventually built near the site, as well as 300 to 500 residential homes in the future if the museum is built at Marshall Junction.

For more information, contact Stouffer at (660) 287-4510 or for presentation opportunities, Katie Shannon at (660) 815-0272.

National Steamboat Museum
National Steamboat Museum
National Steamboat Museum