**RECEIVED 2018 BLOGGING BRANSON AWARD OF EXCELLENCE**
We all know the story. The largest ship of its kind and time sets out on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic only to find herself coming into unfortunate contact with an iceberg. It’s a tragic story and one that we bring into some vague remembrance every April when we recognize that fateful day in history. But – what if you could know more? What if you could come close enough to almost feel like you KNEW the passengers aboard the Titanic? That’s exactly what I experienced when our group visited the Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri.
Disclaimer: I attended a media event as the guest of Niccole from The Creative SAHM. While this was an event sponsored by the Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center, all opinions listed below are 100% authentic and mine alone.
Visiting The Titanic in Branson
While I spent most of my recent trip to Branson laughing, eating, socializing and mesmerized by such immense talent, nothing truly affected my heart more than our few hours at the Titanic Museum. I actually thought I knew a thing or two about the famous luxury liner. I mean, I did watch the movie a million or so times. What else was there to learn?
Well, I’ll be rather blunt….I had a lot to learn. This museum (and its sister museum located in Pigeon Forge, TN) goes to great lengths to help visitors intimately understand the enormity of the ship, the personalities of its passengers, the heroism demonstrated and the events leading up to that moment when the final piece of the stern was submerged.
The Branson Titanic Museum sits right in the heart of the city and is unmistakably identifiable from every direction. From the street, guests passing by see a down-sized replica of the notorious luxury liner’s bow, complete with her own iceberg and leak.
Upon our arrival, a good deal of time was spent snapping photos (something we were not allowed to do during the tour), trying to grab that perfect angle to represent the story we were about to hear.
Coming Aboard and Meeting the “Passengers”
Just outside the “ship,” we met our wonderful tour guide, Jim, who eloquently shared the no photography rule and asked us to silence our cell phones during the 90 minute tour. Do you know how hard that is for those in any form of media?
In addition to the above, we were each handed a beautifully designed “boarding pass.” The contents of this pass contained the name of an actual passenger aboard the Titanic back in 1912. It told us what class the passenger sailed and a brief history to help us get acquainted. We were to hold that card throughout the tour and, at its conclusion, find that passenger’s name on the Wall of Stories to uncover their ultimate fate.
The first part of the tour dug deep into some the facts about the ship. Jim discussed the size of the vessel, the amount of this material or that and how it was powered. We had the chance to feel the weight of the coal being shoveled into the hot furnaces. We learned details surrounding the ship’s build, as well as the locations of the build, launch and ports-of-call. Jim also showed us a huge map that showcased the ship’s plotted course and where everything happened during that voyage.
As we moved on throughout the 20 galleries, we were introduced to various artifacts and replicas of what was found on the ship.
Dinnerware from all three classes were on display.
We saw children’s shoes, antiquated life jackets and pocket watches.
We were invited to peek into third and first class accommodations.
Of course, we were also allowed to board the bridge, where Captain Smith’s heart sank long before the ship finally did.
The Hearts and Souls on Board
Many of us, of course, have some knowledge of the historical names associated with this frightful passage – such as Captain Smith and the Unsinkable Molly Brown. While their stories are certainly pertinent and poignant, they are only represent a microscopic view into the Titanic’s tale.
There were 2208 individuals aboard the RMS Titanic. This included 324 First Class, 276 Second Class and 709 Third Class passengers ~ men, women and children. In addition, there were 899 members of the crew from the boiler room to the bridge. Each of them had a soul, a personality and a life that was altered dramatically one way or another that frigid night.
There were families traveling together. Businessmen on an adventure. Estranged wives and children sailing across seas to meet up with spouses and parents. Still some were simply eager to get to the other side of the world to start over and see what life had to offer.
No matter the reason, there were more than those two to five stories we hear over and over again. Over two thousand histories were affected by this event. The museum helps to tell more of their tales.
At one point, we turned the corner and found ourselves in a gallery full of photographs. Father Browne, a Catholic priest who had boarded the ship in Southampton, but disembarked in Queenstown, had taken his camera along with him on the journey. Upon hearing of the tragic disaster only days after he got off, he made the decision to develop those pictures.
In that particular gallery, we had opportunity to see these moments captured. We looked into the eyes of those on board and saw the excitement that surrounded the beginning of the voyage. The photos were absolutely breathtaking.
Of course, the story is not complete without hearing about the tales of heroism that were born from this tragedy. Within the 20 galleries of the museum, there are heroes of all kinds recognized ~ from spiritual leaders spending their last moments drawing others to Christ to crew members sticking to their posts, refusing to abandon ship.
One captivating moment for me was when we stood in the gallery memorializing the eight musicians aboard. Their photos in that room were larger than life. Their stories were written so eloquently under their portraits. In the center of the room, a pianist quietly tinkered out the notes of the last song the musicians played before their final breaths. They had collectively made the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to calm the spirits of those around them facing such utter tragedy.
I will not lie ~ tears leaked from my eyes.
While we gazed at artifacts and read haunting stories that will stick with us forever, we also had the opportunity to put our hands on the helm of the ship, dip our hands into 28°F water and take a stab at climbing various angles of a sinking ship. We also sat in a lifeboat and listened to actual stories of survivors and touched a wall that was meant to give us the feel of touching an iceberg.
Of course, as it would be for any guest, a pivotal moment in our tour was when we had the opportunity to ascend a replica of the Grand Staircase and gaze upon the Honour and Glory Crowning Time clock.
The whole experience was enlightening and surreal. I will honestly never forget it.
The Wall of Stories
The tour finally came to an end and we reached the Wall of Stories. As we walked into the room, 2208 names were waiting for our attention. Each member of the group diligently searched the wall for his or her passenger’s name. Some of us had even made assumptions at the beginning based on details we had been given. Were we right? Were we wrong? One by one, we found our Titanic soulmate and were either overcome by relief….or by sadness.
My Passenger’s Fate
The boarding pass I held was for a Leah Aks. Leah was a 19 year old Polish girl traveling as a third class passenger from London, England. Joining her on the voyage was her 10 month old son, Phillip (whom she endearingly called Frank). The purpose of their trip was to reunite with her husband (Sam) in Norfolk, Virginia, where he had gone to work in January of that year.
Once Leah knew something was not right, she wrapped her son in a blanket and headed for the deck. One story goes that her son was snatched from her arms while she was standing next to Madeline Astor, the wife of the richest man on the ship. She feared she would never see Frank again, as she had no idea whether he was thrown overboard or placed on another lifeboat. At that point, hope seemed to be lost.
But did Leah make it? Did she survive the Titanic plunging into the frigid ocean?
She did! Leah was on Lifeboat 13 and delivered to the Carpathia. She was safe. In time, she was reunited with her son and ultimately her husband. Leah and Philip had survived the historical tragedy and would go on to live very full lives, though obviously tainted and never the same.
The Titanic Museum is truly an experience any visitor to Branson should have. It’s good to laugh. It’s fun to play games. Seeing a fabulous show always turns into a great memory. To give yourself the opportunity to walk through history and “meet” people with whom you will shake hands, that’s unique. It never hurts to walk in someone else’s shoes and my experience at the Titanic Museum in Branson gave me just that.
To you, Leah Aks…….and your family. Godspeed……
Toll Free: 800-381-7670 417-334-9500
Located in the heart of Branson:
3235 76 Country Blvd & Hwy 165, 65616
Visit them at:
- Website: www.titanicbranson.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TitanicMuseumAttraction/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TitanicUSA
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/titanic_museum/
Looking for more to do in Branson?
List of attractions:
- Silver Dollar City
- Track Family Fun Parks
- Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction
- Branson IMAX complex
List of restaurants:
List of shows:
Need a place to stay: Try the Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center!! Great themed rooms and suites!!