The saga of Titanic has entranced people for a full century. Dozens of movies and TV shows have been made about or inspired by the doomed luxury liner. Countless books have been written covering every conceivable aspect of White Star Line’s “Unsinkable.” Is there anything left to say or see about this epic maritime fail?
Of course there is.
“She (Titanic) put people under her spell even before she set sail and that will continue for the next 100 years,” said Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attraction, located in Branson, Mo., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
“Even today, it would be beyond the scope of any author of fiction stories to create a more interesting saga,” said Bruce M. Caplan, a leading Titanic expert and author of The Sinking of the Titanic – 1912 Survivor Accounts. “As the Titanic left Southampton on April 10, 1912, the three classes of passengers included the richest to the poorest. With all the nationalities and ethnic groups, the ship was a virtual United Nations.”
For the spellbound legions of everything Titanic, the museum is a must-see.
“As visitors exit the exhibits, their expressions tell it all,” said Caplan, who has met thousands of them during book signings. “They’re mesmerized and fascinated with their trip back into time.”
NEW EXHIBIT HONORS CHILDREN
In 2013 the museum marks “The Year of the Titanic Children,” the first-ever coordinated exhibits and events paying tribute to the 133 children aboard the ship (of the 2,208 passengers) and putting into context what they saw, heard and felt from the moment they boarded.
“The children aboard Titanic are often treated as little more than footnotes in history,” said John Joslyn, leader of the first private exploration dive to Titanic and co-owner of the museum. “The children’s stories are no less important or dramatic than those of the ship’s elite passengers.”
The two museums will share artifacts and both will have plenty to keep visitors fascinated. For instance, on display in Branson is a thermos flask Arthur West gave to his wife after she and their children were put into a lifeboat.
“Arthur returned to the cabin for a thermos of warm milk, and finding the lifeboat let down, he reached it by means of a rope. . .” wrote Mrs. Ada West in her account. “. . . and with a farewell returned to the deck of the ship.”
In Pigeon Forge visitors will find eight-year-old Marshall Drew’s souvenir ribbon hat band embroidered with “RMS Titanic.” Marshall was traveling in second class with his aunt and uncle and was rescued in Lifeboat 10.
A TITANIC EVENT
The Pigeon Forge location will also offer a new event: From April 1 to 7, Titanic Author’s Week will gather together for the first time a dozen world-renowned authors of bestselling Titanic-themed books. These include Caplan and Daniel Allen Butler, an internationally recognized authority on maritime subjects, whose book, The Other Side of the Night, delves into what happened aboard the Carpathia and the Californian ships the night Titanic sank.
Also present will be Lee W. Merideth, a Titanic historian who wrote 1912 Facts About Titanic and an updated companion book, Titanic Names: A Complete List of the Passengers and Crew. International maritime history speaker and hard news reporter Ken Rossignol looks at the original newspaper coverage of the disaster in his book, Titanic 1912 – The Original News Stories.
Other award-winning Titanic authors making an appearance include June Hall McCash, A Titanic Love Story; Yvonne Lehman, Hearts That Survive; Julie Hedgepeth Williams, A Rare Titanic Family – The Caldwell Story of Survival: and Allan Wolf, The Watch That Ends the Night – Voices from the Titanic.
Underscoring the museum’s children’s theme will be an appearance by child author Luke Copas. The 12-year-old penned Facts for Kids About the Titanic, a children’s encyclopedia based on his own research, when he was nine-years-old. Kellogg-Joslyn was so taken with the then-fourth grader’s talent she landed him a book deal.
“Grown-ups and children alike are drawn to Titanic books,” said Kellogg-Joslyn, noting that the museum is one of the largest repositories of Titanic books anywhere. “Each book is a chronicle of faith, heroism, sacrifice and survival.”
An outdoor book fair will be set up steps from the museum’s front doors and fans of all things Titanic will have a chance to meet the authors, buy their books and have them signed. Photos with the authors can be taken during book signings and Titanic book purchases will net the buyer discounted admittance to the museum.
A MARVEL THEN – AND NOW
The Titanic Museum Attraction is a sight to behold: shaped like the ship and measuring fully half the size of the original, it displays a carefully chosen 412 artifacts from an 1,800-piece permanent collection, including the largest collection of Titanic photographs in existence and the lone life jacket whose wearer’s identity is known.
The artifacts, obtained from debris that surfaced after the sinking and from descendants of Titanic passengers, are shown in more than 20 galleries which stretch over two decks and contain exact replicas of the Grand Staircase, a first-class suite, a third-class cabin and the bridge.
Touch an iceberg. Slip into a seat in a lifeboat. Dip your fingers into frigid 28-degree water. Experience a you-are-there moment at the gated and locked third class compartment whose occupants would have seen the stairway fill with rushing water.
“When I talk to visitors after they’ve been through the Titanic Museum, they tell me they can imagine being there,” said author Ken Rossignol. “The water is so cold. They try to imagine what it would be like to be in that water or to hear the cries of anguish from those who were.
“The story of Titanic is a story without end,” he added. “The ship had 705 survivors. They all had a story to tell and they did.”
If You Go
Visit Titanic Museum Attraction at www.TitanicAttraction.com or call 800-381-7670 for more details about “The Year of the Titanic Children” and other events being held in 2013. For Titanic Author’s Week, April 1 to 7, tickets are not required for the book signing fair, but are needed for tours of the attraction. The tour is self-guided and you should plan a minimum of two hours – although you could easily spend four hours or more. Visitors receive a boarding pass bearing the name of a real Titanic passenger or crew member and, at tour’s end, learn their fate.