Going Aboard the Titanic

A Day Way by By Mike Steely

Promoted as the safest ship ever built, the Titanic sank in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg on its way from England to America. It’s been featured in various movies, television specials, books and family histories of the 1,500 passengers and crew who perished and the 712 who survived the chilly north Atlantic waters.

What is with our continuing fascination of the event, the ship and the passengers?  Is it the tragedy or the personal stories of the people on board?

And what became of the survivors, especially the children, beyond the event?

Just about everything you wanted to know about the ship, from its construction to its partial recovery, is at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge and it can take hours to walk through the museum to take everything in or be as brief as you like.

In March, the museum began its “Children of the RMS Titanic” exhibit with information on the 135 children who were aboard during the fated cruise. The exhibit of the children drew us back to the museum, which we hadn’t visited since the grand opening. We wondered who the children were, where they came from, if their parents survived, and what became of them. Most of that information is available at the museum with as many photos as could be found.

Not surprising, the largest number of those lost in the disaster were third-class adults and children along with most of the Titanic officers and crew. What was surprising was the number of wealthy first-class male passengers who perished, including one of the richest men in America.

If you are a fan of the hit movie “Titanic” you might be frustrated to find that the main character, “Jack,” was fictional as was his love interest. You can find, however, tales of other romances and the survival of various passengers.

When you enter you are given a card with a passenger’s name on it and you can find that person’s information and photo among the other passengers. At the end of the self-guided tour you can find out what happened to that person.

My wife’s person survived, married and had children. The name I had, a steward, died when the ship sank. There’s also a wall featuring Jewish passengers and displays about the first, second and third class passengers and their quarters and levels.

The biggest surprise for us was the exhibit of the world’s largest Lego Titanic, created over a period of 11 months by a 10-year-old autistic boy in Iceland, Brynjar Karl. The child narrates a short film about the model in the exhibit’s theater.  The Lego model has 56,000 blocks and the creator describes how making and showing the model helped him deal with his autism.

We visited the museum in the middle of the week in the late morning and didn’t find it crowded. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and we wish we had spent more time there.

You can find more information about the museum online at titanicpigeonforge.com or call 800-381-7670 for ticket information. The museum is located at 2134 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Ticket prices start at about $31.

To avoid the traffic you can return to Knoxville by way of Highway 441 which becomes Chapman Highway.