On April 15, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic sank beneath the frigid waves of the North Atlantic, taking 1,517 of her passengers with her. One hundred three years later, the Titanic remains one of the most famous ships to ever set sail, and the story of her tragedy continues to captivate the minds of people everywhere. As we mark another anniversary of the Titanic disaster, here are a few interesting facts that might not be found in the history books.
About 14 years before the Titanic sank, author Morgan Robertson published his novel “Futility.” The book tells the story of the Titan, the largest ship ever built. The ship is said to be “unsinkable” but collides with an iceberg in April and slips beneath the waves. There aren’t enough lifeboats, and more than half the passengers die in the North Atlantic. Sound eerily familiar?
2. Car overboard
The only known automobile on the Titanic was a 1912 Renault CB Coupe de Ville. The car was purchased in Europe by William Carter, of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, who was traveling with his wife and two children back to the United States. Carter and his family survived the disaster, but the car has yet to be recovered from the wreckage.
3. Money, money, money
The cost of the most expensive first-class ticket to New York cost $4,350. That’s the equivalent of $69,600 today.
4. The last meal
The last meal served in the Titanic’s first-class saloon had 11 courses with Waldorf Pudding, Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly, Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs, and French Ice Cream for dessert.
5. Ice, ice, baby
The temperature of the iceberg the Titanic hit was 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The water passengers fell into was 28 degrees. High salt content in the water prevented it from freezing.
6. Cleanliness is next to godliness
There were only two bathtubs, one for men and one for women, available to the 700 third-class passengers aboard ship.
7. Roast beef
First-class passengers were summoned to dinner by buglers playing “The Roast Beef of Old England.”
8. Optical illusions
A Smithsonian article in 2012 presented new research showing that atmospheric conditions the night of the accident caused unusual optical illusions and mirages. This could explain why the Titanic was unable to see the iceberg or receive assistance from nearby ships.
9. Just a few seconds
The time between the lookout’s first sighting of the iceberg to impact was only about 37 seconds.
10. Saved by whiskey
After helping load bread into the lifeboats for passengers, Titanic’s Chief Baker Charles Joughin drank a large amount of whiskey. The alcohol in his system kept him from freezing in the frigid water. He was rescued after several hours swimming in the ocean.
11. Newsies on board
Among its many amenities the Titanic had its own daily newspaper, the Atlantic Daily Bulletin. The paper was printed on board ship every day and included news, advertisements, stock prices, horse-racing results, society gossip and the menu for the day.
12. Cats and dogs
There were 12 dogs on board the Titanic. Three of those dogs, a Pekingese and two Pomeranians, survived. There were no cats aboard ship, which went against the naval tradition of taking a feline passenger for good luck (and to keep the rats away).
13. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night …
The Titanic was transporting 3,500 bags of mail across the Atlantic. If any of that mail is ever recovered, the United States Postal Service is required by law to deliver it.
14. Votes for women
Some U.S. newspapers speculated the Titanic disaster would end the suffragette movement. They thought women would fear the end of the “women and children first” lifeboat rule if universal women’s rights were acknowledged.
15. I brought my own costume
Actress Dorothy Gibson survived the sinking. A month later she starred in the silent film “Saved From the Titanic.” She provided her own wardrobe from the clothes she actually wore aboard ship.
16. Just practically unsinkable
No one ever actually claimed that the Titanic was “unsinkable.” In 1911, Shipbuilder Magazine published an article that said when the watertight doors were closed, the ship would be “practically unsinkable.” The quote was taken out of context and remained through history.