Little Bits of History

“I’m the King of the World!”

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 14, 2010

RMS Titanic

April 14, 1912: RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg at 11:40 PM. It was a Sunday night and the temperatures were close to freezing. The seas were calm. There was a clear sky but the moon was no out. Days before Captain Smith altered course to avoid reported icebergs. Earlier on this day, the steamer Amerika had warned of large icebergs in the path of the luxury ship. A second ship, Mesaba, also warned of numerous large icebergs in the path. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were manning the wireless radio and paid to deliver messages to and from the passengers. They were not concerned with these “non-essential” messages and did not relay them to the bridge. Two hours and forty minutes after striking the berg, at 2:20 AM she sunk – 1,523 people died.

The Titanic was one of three luxury ships built by the White Star Line – all of which met with ignominious ends. She was 882.5 ft long and 92.5 ft at the beam. Gross tonnage was 46,328. She majestically rose up 175 feet, from keel to the top of the funnels. She was unsurpassed in luxury at the time. The forward first-class grand staircase was the coup de grace on this opulent ship.

On April 10 the ship left Southampton, England making two more stops before finally crossing the Atlantic for New York. Cherbourg, France was the first stop and Queensland [now Cobh], Ireland was the second. The final tally for people on board during the crossing was 2,223. The ship had a total of 840 staterooms, 416 if them First Class. If she had been fully loaded with passengers and crew the ship would have been moving 3,547 people.

Fredrick Fleet and Reginald Lee spotted a large iceberg directly ahead of the racing liner. They rang the ship’s bell three times and telephoned the bridge, yelling “Iceberg, right ahead!” The ship was immediately turned hard to the left and the engines were reversed. An impact was inevitable. So, south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland she struck an iceberg. Lifeboats could have held 1,178 people if properly filled and lowered. There were not enough boats available because double hanging them would have ruined the look of the elegant ship. Only 700 people survived that freezing night at sea. At 4:10 AM the RMS Carpathia picked up the first lifeboat passengers.

“Professionals built the Titanic, amateurs the ark.” – Frank Pepper

“When you have a population that is immobile, no matter how you plead for them to leave no matter how early you get a start they can’t leave! It’s like the Titanic is sinking. They couldn’t just say, ‘Everyone off!’ There’s no place to go. You’re stuck!” – Jeremy Davenport

“Just think of all those women on the Titanic who said, ‘No, thank you,’ to dessert that night. And for what!” – Erma Bombeck

“When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident… or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.” – E. J. Smith, Captain, RMS Titanic in 1907

Also on this day, in 1846 the Donner Party set off from Springfield, Illinois to meet their doom.

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