The sinking of the Titanic is one of the greatest tragedies in history. Nicknamed the “Unsinkable Ship”, the Titanic was the largest passenger ship ever built at the time it entered service. Then on April 15, 1912, just four days into its maiden voyage from the United Kingdom to the United States, the mighty ship collided with an iceberg in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Several films and documentaries were made about the disaster, but there are still a number of amazing and lesser-known facts about the once glorious ship and that fateful day. Did you know there was a nearby ship that could have saved more people? And one man survived the cold waters all night after he did one thing...
Milton Hershey's Last Minute Cancellation
In December 1911, Milton S. Hershey, founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company, put down a deposit for a VIP stateroom aboard the Titanic. The deposit cost $300, equivalent to an estimated $7,281 today. Hershey decided to take his wife on a trip to Nice, France and bought the VIP tickets for the Titanic for their return trip home.
Not long before the Titanic set sail, Hershey canceled his ticket and boarded an earlier ship back to the U.S. The reason for the cancelation is still unknown. The check for the deposit, made out to White Star Lines, is in the Hershey Community Archives.
A Rescue Ship Ignored the Distress Signals
While the Carpathia eventually came to rescue the survivors of the Titanic, there was, in fact, another ship closer to the wreck, the S.S. California, that did absolutely nothing. The ship's captain, Stanley Lord, apparently became aware of the Titanic sinking after officers on the ship saw the flare signals. Yet he did not order his vessel to assist the sinking ship.
The captain and crew were investigated after the fact, and many of their accounts were confusing and inconsistent. The backlogs of that night managed to disappear. Captain Lord was fired and forever disgraced.
A Japanese Survivor Was Shamed
Masabumi Hosono, a Japanese civil servant, was the only Japanese passenger aboard the Titanic. Hosono managed to survive the horrific tragedy but faced a very rude awakening. He was initially, and unfairly, dubbed a stowaway to the press by a first-class American passenger. Then his native country turned on him as well.
Hosono was condemned and shamed for not going down with the ship. Both the Japanese press and government labeled him a coward. He was then fired from his job with no explanation. Deemed unethical, the company was forced to hire him back. His survival was a source of shame for his family for many years.
Just a few hours before the Titanic hit an iceberg, a passenger named Esther Hart wrote a letter to her mother in England. The letter was penned in the Titanic's library on the ship's signature stationery. It talked about the wonderful journey she, her husband, and her seven-year-old daughter, Eva, were having aboard the ship. Her husband, unfortunately, passed, while Eva and Esther survived.
The letter has weathered the past 100 years, kept in the family as a memento. In 2016 it went up for auction in England and sold to an American bidder for $18,000.
Victims Lost At Sea
Out of the 1,503 lives that were lost when the Titanic sank, only 340 bodies were recovered, found floating in their life jackets in the days after the shipwreck. But what happened to the remaining 1,163 victims is still a mystery to this day. No remains have been found at the wreckage site.
There are a few theories circulating about these missing remains. Some experts say that a storm spread the floating victims out in a 50-mile-wide area, and their bodies are most likely scattered along the ocean floor. Others believe that bodies were trapped inside and thus heavily decomposed and attacked by sea scavengers.
Only Three Smoke Stacks Were Functioning
Photos of Titanic depict four giant smokestacks towering on top of the ship. Three drew smoke and heat from the furnaces of the 29 boilers. The fourth wasn't connected to the furnace; it was a dummy stack to make the ship look more impressive
During the 1900's, the number of funnels a liner had was considered a symbol of speed and safety, and the Titanicwas meant to be the best of the best. Also, if there were only three, they'd have been placed towards the front of the ship. By having four, they could be spread out equally, making it appear more balanced.
If you thought that was odd, the first death aboard the Titanic occurred before it even left for its maiden voyage.
A Psychic Predicted The Tragedy
Twenty-four-year-old Alice Elizabeth Fortune, her parents, sisters, and brother were first-class passengers aboard Titanic. They were returning back home in Canada after a European vacation. During their visit to Cairo, Egypt, two months prior, Alice went to see a fortune teller.
The psychic told her that every time she traveled by sea, she would be in danger and that she could actually see Alice adrift in the open water. She was told she'd lose everything but her life. Alice, her mother and sisters were rescued from the Titanic, but her brother and father died in the wreck.
Alcohol May Have Saved One Man's Life
As the Titanic sank into the sea, Charles Joughin, the chief baker on the ship, nonchalantly stepped off the stern into the freezing waters and began paddling around until dawn, when he was rescued by a lifeboat. While others froze to death, Charles survived.
The reason he was able to withstand the ice cold temperatures for so long was attributed to the generous amount of alcohol he had drunk, which kept his organs fortified until he was rescued. Before he got too drunk, he managed to ensure that all of the lifeboats were filled with bread and biscuits.
Animals On Board
There were a number of animals aboard the Titanic, including dogs, cats, chickens, birds, and rats. There was even an "official" Titanic cat named Jerry, who helped keep the rats at bay. She and her kittens lived in the galley.
The only animals to survive the wreck were three of the twelve dogs brought on board because they were lucky enough to make it on a lifeboat. Two of the dogs were Pomeranians and one was a Pekinese, and no one seemed to mind squeezing them on the boats. One of the dogs belonged to Henry Harper, heir to Harper & Row publishing.
The First Victim Never Set Sail
Samuel Joseph Scott was one of 15,000 workers who built the Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic, in Ireland. He was only 15 years old and earned between $5 to $10 a week. On April 20, 1910, while working on the ship, Samuel slipped off of a ladder into the open hull. He fractured his skull and died.
In 2011, Samuel was finally given a headstone, which was unveiled during a ceremony that was attended by the niece and the nephew of the Titanic’s designer. His epitaph includes the following words: “Remembering his soul and all those who perished in the sinking of the Titanic."
The Iceberg Was From 1000 BC
The iceberg that sunk the Titanic began its voyage to the North Atlantic over three thousand years ago, around 1000 BC. It is speculated that it all began with snowfall on the western coast of Greenland, which compacted over the span of a few months. In the proceeding decades, it became more compact from the weight of more falling snow, forming into dense ice.
Frozen waters pushed it westward, and chunks were broken off, or calved, and pushed south. Most icebergs only last a few years after they are calved, so experts believe it floated away from Greenland around 1910.
The Second Ocean Liner to Ever Have a Pool
At the time it was built, the Titanic was considered the most luxurious ship ever made. It was the second liner ever to have a swimming pool on board. The first was its sister ship, Olympic, which set sail the year prior. But the Titanic's pool was larger, measuring at 30 by 14 feet, and was also heated, while the Olympic's was not.
The pool, then called a swimming bath, was for first-class passengers only. It was filled with sea water, but of course was a lot warmer than the 28-degree temperatures in the ocean.
The Captain Crashed A Ship The Year Before
There are mixed feeling regarding the Titanic's Captain, Edward John Smith. Some think his negligence led to one of the worst disasters in history, while others believe he was a hero for courageously going down with his ship. Coincidentally, the Titanic was not his first mishap as a captain.
The year prior, Smith had been the Captain of the Olympicwhen it collided with a British warship. Despite major damage, the ship made it safely back to shore but suffered extremely costly damage. The Royal Navy blamed the Olympic for the accident, claiming that its massive size caused a suction that pulled the warship into it.
Putting On The Ritz
The interior of the Titanic was extremely lavish, complete with dining rooms with ornate ceilings and plush carpets. It was designed to resemble the Ritz Hotel in London. The first class cabins were also very similar to some of the high-end suites at the Ritz.
There was even a restaurant on B deck called The Ritz Restaurant. The restaurant was for first-class passengers only and was considered an "Optional Extra", with extremely high prices. The tables were always fully booked up by the rich and famous.
It Cost What?!
The Titanic cost $7.2 million to build, equivalent to $180 million today. So it’s no surprise that first-class tickets came with a hefty price tag, which is why it was filled with millionaires. Charlotte Drake Cardeza, a 58-year-old daughter of a wealthy textile-mill owner, may not have been the wealthiest person onboard, but she purchased the most expensive ticket.
Cardeza’s first-class parlor ticket cost $4,350 which is equivalent to $69,600 today. Her room had two bedrooms, a sitting room, two wardrobe rooms and a bath. She was traveling with her 36-year-old son, her maid, his valet and 14 trunks, four suitcases, and three crates.
See It With Your Own Eyes
Expeditions to the site ceased in 2012, but as of May 2018, tourists will again be able to visit the wreck. A London-based travel company called Blue Marble Private will provide guided eight-day tours, which will begin in Newfoundland, Canada. Voyagers will board a submersible that’ll take them to the Titanic two miles below the surface. The experience will cost $105,129 per person, and the first trip is already completely booked.
The time to visit the Titanic may be limited, as a study conducted in 2016 claimed that “extremophile bacteria” may very well eat away what’s left of the wreck within the next 15-20 years.
A Drill Was Canceled The Day It Sunk
During the 1900's, lifeboat drills were regularly conducted on ocean liners in order to prep the crew and passengers on what to do in the case of an emergency. In fact, there was a drill scheduled aboard the Titanic on the morning of April 14th, but Captain Edward John Smith canceled it for some unknown reason. Later that day, the Titanic struck an iceberg.
Hysteria ensued, and without the experience of running the drill, there was lots of confusion on how to properly utilize the lifeboats. A large number of them set off only half full, leading to a greater loss of life than was necessary.
Third Class Life
Third- class accommodations on the Titanic, known as steerage, were designed to hold two to six passengers. They were grouped by family or gender and were primarily immigrants moving to the United States and Canada. When adjusted to today's standard, tickets cost approximately $700 for adults and $300 for children.
Before stepping on the ship, all steerage passengers were given a health inspection to check for disease, lice, and other infections. They slept in bunk beds that had mattresses, pillows, and blankets, but no sheets or pillowcases. There were over 700 people in steerage, and they all had to share two bathtubs. Luckily, they had flushing toilets.
And The Band Played On
Panic set in aboard the Titanic as it began to sink. The ship's eight-member band gathered in the first-class lounge and began to play in an effort to keep everyone calm. As the ship sank further, the band, led by Wallace Hartley, played on, with no consideration of saving their own lives.
There's been much debate on what was the final song that they played. One survivor claimed that “Nearer, My God, to Thee” was the last song, but she apparently left on a lifeboat 20 minutes before it completely sank. A wireless operator reported that he had heard the song “Autumn” being played as the ship submerged.
Each night during the First Watch, a Marconi operator would copy down the Marconi news service broadcast, and then type it all out. He'd also include some other information, like daily menus, society gossip (which included such "news" as what first-class passengers wore to dinner the previous night), add in some advertisements, then print it all through a mini printing press that was located in the Chief Pursers Office.
These write-ups became a daily newspaper for the Titanic, called the Atlantic Daily Bulletin. The bulletin was then posted each night in the first-class smoking room.