In the Bookcase


The Carpathia's arrival in New York.

R.M.S. Titanic's voyage route on map

This map above shows the Titanic's complete journey, starting in Southampton, England, plus her stops in France and Ireland. You can see that the Titanic was more than halfway across the Atlantic Ocean before the iceberg struck. The ship had wrecked on the night of April 14, 1912, and within 3 hours had sunk to bottom of the ocean. On the early morning of April 15th, the Carpathia found the passengers in the lifeboats floating around Titanic's last known location.

Titanic passengers rescued by Carpathia

This photo shows a small group of the women who were rescued from Titanic, and were now safely aboard the Carpathia. This one-funnel steamer was headed to New York to deliver the 705 Titanic survivors it held.

It was 3 and a half days after the wreck when the Carpathia finally pulled into the docks in New York. By this time, the newspapers had reported every imagineable story that they could think of about the Titanic. If it sounded like an interesting story, they published it for the attention, regardless of the authenticity of the facts. Every day that week had passed with false rumors being written about the Titanic---nobody on land knew the true story yet.

At 9:00pm on the night of the 18th, when the Carpathia came in, at least 40,000 people New Yorkers were waiting for it. Some were family members and friends, hoping against hope that they would be reunited with the people they knew. Others were the reporters, hungry for any detail they would be able to get from the passengers as they disembarked.

Deadline-driven reporters were panicked by the thought that they might miss the scoop of their lives and left no survivor uninterrupted in his or her grief. The sinking of the Titanic was the greatest story of the new century, and it would be a crime not to make one's mark by getting the best stories possible at the scene of the docking. It was a time of the very creative storytelling by reporters overwhelmed by the dramatic possibilities of this once-in-a-lifetime moment.
('Titanic: One Newspaper, Seven Days, and the Truth That Shocked the World')

There is another ship which I have not mentioned yet that is involved in the Titanic's tragedy. It plays an extremely large part in the disaster, and the story is somewhat like this: Many of the Titanic's passengers could visibly see the lights of this other ship nearby. It was the Californian, which was supposedly about 7-20 miles away. As people climbed into lifeboats, the light of this ship was shining. On the open sea, with nothing being blocked from view on such a wide horizon, lights from a ship would clearly stand out in the blackness of night. Captain Lord was in charge of that mysterious ship. He and his men could see the Titanic too, although they didn't know it was the Titanic. The men on the Californian saw all 8 of the distress rockets that were fired. Among themselves, they conversed about this ship firing rockets in the middle of the ocean. As the Titanic reached her final moments and was sinking, these men on the Californian could see her lights disappearing, but apparently only thought that the ship was moving away and growing smaller from view. Not once did Captain Lord and the men on board with him venture towards the Titanic, nor did they make radio contact... but they were there, watching, as the Titanic sunk.

If only this ship which was much closer than the Carpathia could have tried to see what was wrong with the Titanic, many more lives could have been saved in time. Many historians have never quite been able to put together the puzzle of why the crew of the Californian, who could actually see the Titanic, did nothing in reaction to the distress rockets. I guess it will just be one of the several mysteries that the Titanic left behind that night of her first, and only, voyage.

The aftermath of the Titanic's wake continues in tomorrow's post.

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