Wednesday, August 24, 2016

TITANIC Museum - Pigeon Forge [ATTRACTION REVIEW]

I love history and I'm not sure exactly why, but the Titanic story has always intrigued me. I've read a few different books about it and watched several TV documentaries as well. I guess you could call me a Titanic enthusiast (is that even the right word to use for a tragedy though?)

When I found out there was a Titanic Museum just a few hours away in Pigeon Forge, TN, I jumped at the chance to take my family there to learn even more and see the amazing artifacts recovered from the site of the sinking.


You weren't allowed to take photos inside the museum which I think is only appropriate as it is a somber place and you don't want flashes going off constantly or people blocking the items on display.

Upon our arrival, we were each provided with a "Boarding Pass" with information about an actual passenger aboard Titanic. They had a great audio tour for adults with more information than you can even imagine about the Titanic. There was also a little "scavenger hunt" audio tour for the kids which they loved!

The beginning of the tour, you can sense the excitement as you learn about the design and construction of such a massive ship!

You then follow along in the galleries and learn about some passengers as you view pieces of history. Some (or many) of which you may not have ever heard about before! There are two artifacts right near the start of the tour - one was a deck chair and the other is this suitcase / trunk. As I looked at it I thought about how some people packed their entire life into a trunk and boarded Titanic to come to America.

*** This photo is a scan of a postcard I purchased in 
the gift shop of the Titanic Museum, Pigeon Forge ***

Did you know about the Laroche family traveling from France to Haiti who weren't even supposed to be on Titanic? They had First Class passage booked on another ship that wouldn't allow children to dine with their parents and so they switched their tickets to travel Second Class on Titanic instead. The pregnant wife and 2 daughters survived, the father did not.


Obviously that was just one of many tragic stories about that fateful crossing. Of the total 2,223 passengers and crew aboard the Titanic only 706 survived the disaster.

Passenger Chart from: TitanicUniverse.com

There are photos from Father Browne (who traveled on Titanic from Southampton to Queenstown) on display and it gives you a sense of what life was like for the passengers on the ship during the first part of it's journey across the sea. Seeing his photo of a child playing on the deck will make you choke up.


Photo Credit: Father Browne, fatherbrowne.com

This must be one of the best known pictures taken on the “Titanic”. The six year old Robert Douglas Spedden whipping his spinning top, watched by his father Frederic, has attracted the attention of other passengers. 

The museum has a replica First Class Stateroom which looks so luxurious and puts even the nicest cruise ship "suites" to shame! You could also get a feel for the sheer size of the ship when you went into a hallway with a mirror at each end giving the illusion of the endless corridors passengers walked to get to their rooms.

The world's only full scale replica of the Grand Staircase (built from original blueprints at a cost of over $1 million) is also within the museum and where I think I first started to get really emotional. At first feeling overwhelmed at it's beauty and staring in awe for a few moments. As I slowly ascended the stairs however, the joy changed to sadness as I thought about those that walked those steps for the last time the night Titanic sank.


*** This photo is a scan of a postcard I purchased in
the gift shop of the Titanic Museum, Pigeon Forge ***

There were three parts of the museum that will stay with me forever, the staircase being the first. The second was a display that consisted of a replica staircase going to the Second or Third Class levels of the ship. The display shows rushing water coming down those steps. You can't help but feel some of the terror those passengers did that fateful night.

The final part that will stay with me forever is after you go through the replica bridge. You go out into the "icy night" and can touch an iceberg. You can also (if you choose) put your hand in the icy (28 degree) water. It will very literally send a chill down your spine. You truly get the sense of what it would have been like in those final moments before the ship sank...


*** This photo is a scan of a postcard I purchased in
the gift shop of the Titanic Museum, Pigeon Forge ***

As I stated above, photos were not permitted to take photographs inside the museum so I was very pleasantly surprised when we got to the room with THE violin that they were allowing photographs!



When I call it "THE" violin - I mean it literally... THE violin.. the one that belonged to Bandmaster Wallace Hartley. THE violin that played the last song ever heard by those passengers before the ship sank... They said when talking about it that it very likely wasn't a valuable violin for the time - it was likely the least expensive one you could buy back then...


We were told that after the band finished playing, he wrapped his violin in clothes and put it in this case and then STRAPPED the case to his body. He most likely knew he wasn't going to survive and he wanted his most prized possession to stay with him.

And now it is nearly priceless (the postcard I purchased with a photo of the violin states it's valued at $1.7 million) and tells the story of the man who played it, the band that played "til the end" and of those souls who heard it play before they met their tragic end.


*** This photo is a scan of a postcard I purchased in
the gift shop of the Titanic Museum, Pigeon Forge ***

IMPORTANT NOTE!!! The violin will only be on display there until September after which it will go back to Europe and I'm not sure if you'll ever be able to see it in public again,

In the violin room is where we were able to search the survivor list to see if we (the name on our Boarding Passes) survived the wreck. I'm happy to report that all but my husband survived (which was true of many of the surviving families on the actual Titanic).

Our family won't soon forget our incredible experience at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge - but we made sure to get some souvenirs from the gift shop along with our photos that were taken along our tour in the museum!


This is well worth going to see. Homeschoolers for sure should go and any Titanic enthusiast of course should go. History is what it is and man learned a tragic lesson that no matter how "mighty" of a ship they build, nothing is unsinkable...

Later Taters!

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