Start of the exhibit:
We entered a dark, cool room with messages projected on the walls and a signal bell in a display case. The thing that struck me here (and through reading various books about the Titanic) was the fact that with all of the opulence of the ship, the Crow's Nest lookout had no binoculars or telescope. HELLO! That one simple item might have helped save thousands of lives.
This room contained photographs and display cases with the mechanics of the ship. There was a large display model of the the ship which helped place some of the items in the other displays. One of the items on display was a hoist hook with counter weight. It was used to hoist cargo onto the ship and move it through the levels of the ship to the cargo hold. IT WAS HUGE! The hook itself was about the size of a large tire rim and had a large, steel counter weight to balance in the case of wind. Another case displayed rivets recovered from the debris field. I was fascinated with the newsreel video which showed the workers doing the riveting. The huge iron panels of the ship were hoisted into place and then riveted. Old style riveting was done in tight areas, which involve a tosser (picks up the hot rivet from the fire) who tosses it to the catcher, who places the rivet in the hole and two men on the other side hammer and shape the rivet into place. The panel shown in the video had all of the holes pre-drilled and there were so many it looked like Swiss cheese when it turned to be put into place. The building of the Titanic was one of the first to use hydraulic riveting to place the more than THREE MILLION rivets.
The opulence (and arrogance) of the Titanic were on display in this room. Using the audio wands we rented, codes could be typed in at different points and you could listen to additional info on the ship. Here we heard stories about the rich passengers and the passengers who refused to be transferred to sail on the ship. Due to the coal strike, coal had to be taken from other ships in order for it to have enough to sail on time. Thus, those ships' passengers were also transferred to the Titanic, though the fairs did not equate. First class passage on other ships often equaled 2nd or 3rd class passage on the Titanic. There was a story of a designer who refused to sail or have her inventory shipped on the Titanic due to "a horrible foreboding". Smart woman for listening to that feeling. Passage for first class cost about $4000 per person in 1912 (equating to about $100,000 today). WOW. That is a CRAZY amount of money. There was a display of part of a first class cabin, including running water and electric lights. You could bathe in the water, but not drink it as it was sea water being pumped aboard the ship as it sailed. Dishes and various items recovered were also on display.
Second & Third Class Room:
This was not technically displayed in a room but along a hallway on the way to the engine room display. The cabin shown was a third class room which had 2 sets of bunk beds. Luxory here included ... blankets and pillows. No running water, no electric lights (or light of any kind), bathing could be done in the communal room, as was dining. Still this was luxurious compared to other ships where third class passage was more of a dormitory style sleeping arrangement. Second class passage had running water in sinks but not bath tubs. The sink would then fold up into the wall allowing for extra room in the room and for the water to drain into the plumbing.
The Engine Room:
As we walked through the exhibit, audio also changed. The violin music of the first class area dimmed as we got closer to the engine area, replaced by the nonstop thrumming of the engines. One thing mentioned when the ship crashed into the iceberg, was the silence when the engines ceased. In the engine room, photos of the "firemen" were projected on the walls, one of the men looked about 10 years old. A boulder of coal recovered was on display, and in my mind when I hear coal, I see charcoal briquettes for grilling. This was literally a boulder and as Mina commented it was hard to imagine shoveling those into the furnace all day long.
One of the things that fascinates me was the tons and tons of cargo on the ship. From the food, ice, automobiles, baggage, and items being shipped (including crates of peacock feathers for milliners in New York) to the more than 3,000 bags of mail being shipped. For the RMS on the Titanic's name means "Royal Mail Ship" (which I never knew). Even as the Titanic sank, the mail clerks were trying to save the mail bags.
The final room contained a variety of items salvaged from the wreckage. We actually could reach into a display and touch a piece of the iron recovered from the ship (it had the rivet holes) and there was an actual (created) iceberg which you could touch. The amount of cold coming from the iceberg gave a tiny glimpse into the cold of that night. I was impressed with a port hole recovered which was quite torqued from the sinking and pressure of the ocean. There was another replica of the ship as was in the first room, but this time showed the pieces it is in on the ocean floor and the rust damage. The amount of actual damage from the impact of the iceberg was quite small in comparison to the ship, but all the errors compounded to sink the "UNSINKABLE" ship. Projected on the wall was a list of the passengers broken into the different classes and survived/perished so you could find your "name" from your boarding pass. Chris and I survived (though I didn't think to look if my "children" survived) and Mina and Caitlyn did not.
The gift shop:
Like any good tourist exhibit, there was a gift shop at the end of the tour. I purchased photos of us "on" the staircase, a postcard of the blueprint of the ship, an anniversary pin, a magnet of the photo shown on the outside banner, and a holographic postcard of the Titanic. You could also buy coal salvaged from the wreckage at a considerable price, and jewelry based on items recovered and from the James Cameron movie (Heart of the Ocean design).
I actually made a Titanic necklace to wear, and you can see it in the photos from the previous post and here:
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