Treasure in a Cornfield

Greg Hawley
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Nov 25, 2015

Treasure in a Cornfield is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of unearthing a ginormous time capsule that’s almost 160 years old or going on a treasure hunt that only asks you to lift a finger when the page needs to be turned.  Color photographs, muddy adventure, and juicy historical tidbits pack every single page. 

After searching for the perfect steamboat to excavate and discovering the whereabouts of the Arabia, Greg Hawley and his family invest all of their time, money, and energy into bringing the steamboat to the surface of the cornfield that protected and preserved it for many years.  Treasure in a Cornfield is a beauty, more of a portable museum than a book, each page devoted to the treasure found in the Arabia – everything from the bones of a mule to thousands of shoes.  One of the most intriguing discoveries turned out to be nothing but dissolved cotton.  “When he took out his hand, bright blue mud covered his glove.  Dad pushed his hand deeper into the box revealing a rainbow of yellow, red, orange and green mud.” 

Beginning with obtaining permission from the landowners, Norman and Beulah, and two days of precision drilling, each chapter gradually lowers the reader deeper into the sand, silt, and muck that envelops the Arabia.  Nearly every page is filled with diagrams and pictures documenting the recovery, cleaning, and preservation techniques of each item that is found.  Occasionally, Hawley regales the reader with vastly entertaining stories connected to a handful of items, including earlier attempts at unearthing the Arabia and the delightfully scary Frozen Charlotte doll story.  Even after all of the treasure is found and the museum opens, the book doesn’t stop, for at the very end is an inventory of everything found on the Arabia, including remnants of the last meal left uneaten before the steamboat hit a tree snag and disappeared.

Thanks to an incredible family of treasure hunters who dedicated every waking moment to the backbreaking and expensive excavation of the Arabia, each person who visits the Arabia Steamboat Museum or reads Treasure in a Cornfield will have an opportunity to immerse themselves not only in an era long gone, but also experience the wondrous adventure of unearthing that era. 

Reviewed by Hannah Jane W.
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