If you immediately start humming the tune, you recognize the theme from the Hollywood blockbuster “Titanic” and the real-life events that inspired the movie. More than cinema, the Titanic impacted popular culture in a major way – over a century after its sinking, few don’t know about the plight of this massive ship.

Today, many museums, including the largest one in Pigeon Forge, provide an opportunity to experience the story of the Titanic firsthand. Still, the details may not be as well-known to the general public. That’s why we’ll cover the most important facts of the tragic yet legendary journey.



The Royal Mail Ship Titanic came to be as a result of a rivalry between two shipbuilding companies in the early 20th century: Cunard and White Star. The rivals were competing for high-profile passengers, looking to create the most luxurious and fastest cross-oceanic ships.

Cunard was seemingly winning the speed game with its latest ships, the Mauretania and the Lusitania. In response, White Star started working on a new liner class. It would consist of three ships, prioritizing size and comfort. The Titanic would be the second in line.

The ship featured 16 separate safety compartments specifically designed in case of flooding. Reportedly, the vessel could stay afloat even if four compartments were filled with water. This was the foundation of the public view of the Titanic as an unsinkable ship.

The vessel was decorated to the highest detail and included amenities like a swimming pool and no less than four elevators. The accommodations were separated into three classes, with the second and third classes at about the same level as the first and second classes on other vessels.

Declared seaworthy in 1912, the Titanic was a behemoth measuring about 882 feet in length and 92 feet in width. The ship weighed over 52,000 tons, with carrying capacity surpassing 46,000 tons. The vessel began its maiden – and final – voyage on April 10, carrying over 2,200 passengers.

The Most Famous Naval Accident in History

For most of its short-lived journey, the Titanic received radio messages warning the ship’s crew about the icebergs looming in the ocean. On the fourth day of the journey, Captain Edward J. Smith ordered a slight course correction due south as the vessel approached a particularly troublesome area. However, the vessel didn’t reduce speed.

As the Titanic pushed forward, another ship, the Mesaba, warned the vessel about a field of ice in its path. Yet, the radio operators didn’t relay the message to the bridge. This message arrived at about 9:40 pm, only to be followed by another warning from the Californian more than an hour later. This warning, too, was largely ignored.

The Titanic had a crow’s nest with two lookouts. However, the sailors couldn’t tell much from looking at the ocean – the water was too calm for any icebergs to be noticeable. In a bizarre twist of destiny, the lookout’s binoculars were misplaced.

By the time the iceberg was confirmed visually, there wasn’t much room to react. The sighting was immediately reported to the bridge, and an evasive maneuver was executed. Yet, the impact proved unavoidable, and the Titanic scraped the iceberg, rupturing five safety compartments within the ship’s hull.

From that moment on, the vessel and its unfortunate passengers were doomed.

The Titanic started sending out distress signals, but the closest ships were either too far away or didn’t receive the message. Ironically, the vessel that responded and promptly started making its way toward the soon-to-be wreck was the Carpathia, the ship of the rival Cunard company.

The tragedy was even more profound because the Carpathia couldn’t reach the Titanic’s position for another three hours. The doomed vessel didn’t have that much time left.

Simultaneously with calls for help, the ship’s lifeboats were boarded and launched. Here, again, fate played a cruel trick: The crew feared the davits lowering the lifeboats couldn’t bare the weight, so the boats were launched at about 60% of capacity at best. The first lifeboat to leave the Titanic carried less than half of the possible 65 people.

The crew members came to doubt the davit’s performance because they weren’t aware of the previous successful testing of the system, which took place in Belfast, Ireland. Plus, a safety drill that would’ve confirmed the status of the davits was canceled. The drill was supposed to happen on the very day when the Titanic hit the iceberg.

Less than a third of the passengers made it into the lifeboats. The rest either didn’t make it off the ship or ended up in the freezing waters of the Atlantic. Less than three hours from the impact, the Titanic was swallowed by the ocean, taking around 1,500 lives with it.

Notable Passengers

Many notable people of the age were among the Titanic’s 2,200 passengers. Some suffered the same fate as the majority of the people on the ship, while others survived the tragedy. Here’s a list of the most famous victims and survivors of the RMS Titanic.

The Victims

  • Thomas Andrews: One of the key people behind the Titanic’s construction, Andrews boarded the ship for the maiden voyage. Reportedly, he sacrificed his spot in a lifeboat in favor of helping others. Andrews’ body was never recovered.
  • Isidor Straus: The co-owner of the famed New York department store Macy’s, Straus chose not to board a lifeboat, sending a maid in his stead.
  • John Jacob Astor IV: A descendant of the first American multi-millionaire, Astor was an investor and builder.
  • Captain Edward J. Smith: The captain of the Titanic most likely went down with the ship of his own volition. Reports on his exact whereabouts at the time of the sinking are unclear.

The Survivors

  • J. Bruce Ismay: As the official of the White Star company, Ismay boarded the last lifeboat to leave the ship. However, he was blamed for the tragedy – probably unjustly – for the rest of his life.
  • Millvina Dean: Boarding the Titanic at nine weeks old, Dean was the youngest person on the vessel. A third-class passenger, she survived the wrecking and became the last RMS Titanic survivor, dying in 2009 at the age of 97.
  • Mollie Brown: A socialite and wife of a rich mining businessman, Brown not only made it off the Titanic but helped many passengers get into the lifeboats.

A Timeless Legend

The tragedy of the RMS Titanic grew into a legend, inspiring numerous movies, attractions, and even conspiracy theories. Some view the accident as a cautionary story about human hubris in the face of natural forces, while others examine the wrecking from a social standpoint. In a way, the heritage of the Titanic is still alive and well more than a century after the ship and its passengers perished under the unforgiving ocean waters.

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