Titanic Small Compared To Modern Ships

Titanic was the largest ship afloat in 1912 but according to Paul Stott, senior lecturer at Newcastle University’s School of Marine Science and Technology, it quite small compared to ships like Costa Concordia (which sank off Italy two years ago). Some reports, for instance, say Costa Concordia is two times larger than Titanic. Stott says Titanic today would be equivalent to a mid-size ferry. His problem with trying to compare Titanic and Costa Concordia is that it is hard to have a sense of scale. Stott says a more meaningful way of understanding the size differences is to use famous buildings.

“Stating that the salvors are using brute force to move an object the size of a sky scraper, which many have seen and can therefore relate to directly, really gets across the message of how heroic the salvage operation is.”

Source: Titanic ‘Smaller Than People Think‘(11 Feb 2014,Belfast Telegraph)

Grave For Titanic Survivor Now Has Proper Memorial

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912.
RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912.

Sarah Agnes Stap was a ship’s matron or  first class stewardess. According to her account, a young cabin boy put her in lifeboat 11 after initially rejecting it saying she was in her thirties. Since she was born in 1865, she was actually 47 at the time. She was the daughter of master mariner Captain Henry Stap and was born at sea. She passed away in 1937 at the age of 73 and was buried at Rake Lane Cemetery in Wallasey, England.

Her gravestone simply was marked “Stap” until Friends of Rake Lane Cemetery decided to step up and have her grave properly note she was a Titanic survivor. Stonemason Allen Roberts produced a headstone that now has the following on it:

Sarah Agnes Stap
1st Class Stewardess and Titanic Survivor

And to that all you can say is RIP.

Wirral Titanic Survivor Is Given Fitting Memorial 77 Years After She Passed Away(10 Feb 2014,Wirral Globe)

Sarah Agnes Stap (Encyclopedia Titanica)

Titanic II Builder Having Problems Filling Resort

Photo:Ian L(publicdomainpictures.net)

Clive Palmer is having problems with his Coolum resort.  Room rates are being slashed and promotions are being offered to draw people to stay. Layoffs have occurred dropping the once 650 workforce down to 90. The lack of business is hurting the local economy which depends upon people staying at such resorts. The reasons for the sudden lack of business could be that people are watching their cash or, as one news report speculates, that people are not liking Clive Palmer’s sometimes erratic behavior.

The sprawling golf-dinosaur-vintage car-Titanic-themed resort has 324 suites ranging in price from $400 to $2000 a night plus seven restaurants and bars. The vintage car museum and Palmersaurus Park were opened late last year with high entry costs that have failed to draw large crowds. Five accommodation packages and promotions are currently on offer to entice more visitors.

So what does this mean, if anything, for Titanic II? Possibly that Titanic II could be cancelled IF something were to go really amiss and Palmer pulls the plug. Thus far he has done a lot of preliminary steps and signed some contracts that indicate it is a go. When they start putting the keel down, then it becomes more real.

Source: Guest Numbers Low At Clive Palmer’s Coolum Resort (9 Feb 2014,Herald Sun)

From Dumb Idea File: Rave Party On Nomadic


You have to wonder who thought this was a good idea. The people running SS Nomadic, the former tender for White Star line that ferried passengers to that ship in 1912, were going to have a “Bring Your Own Alcohol Beatnomadic” club night. The tender is the last surviving ship of the White Star Line, over 100 years old, and cost more than £7 million to restore. When word got out via social media that this event was going to take place, it sparked outrage. The Belfast Telegraph reported that several members of the Nomadic Charitable Trust threatened to resign. Additionally the volunteer group Nomadic Preservation Society (who helped raise money to restore and purchase artifacts for the ship), received phone calls inquiring how such a party would do to the old ship.

The rave was cancelled due to public outcry. And the person or persons who thought it was a good idea ought to get the sack. It would be one thing if they have a tasteful event (like a small party for donors etc) but rave parties are known to be loud, brash, and full of people dancing and drinking away. Hardly a fitting place for that sort of thing. Did they not realize such a party would enrage the Titanic community? Whatever passes for brains in those associated with this dumb decision ought to have their heads examined for possible brain injury.

Source: Storm Of Protest Sinks Plan To Hold Rave Nights Aboard Titanic’s Little Sister, SS Nomadic(4 Feb 2014, Belfast Telegraph)


Book Review: The Children’s Blizzard

“A cold wave is indicated for Dakota and Nebraska tonight and tomorrow; the snow will drift heavily today and tomorrow in Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Childrens BlizzardIn January 1888 a terrible blizzard caught many by surprise in Dakota and Nebraska leaving many dead in its wake–and many of the dead were children. The blizzard became known as the Schoolhouse Blizzard, Schoolchildren’s Blizzard or simply The Children’s Blizzard. David Laskin takes us back to recount what happened on 12 January 1888 and why people were so unprepared. He looks at the people who emigrated from Europe and Russia to settle in the plains, at the Weather Bureau which at the time was part of the Army Signal Corp, and why the storm itself was so particularly nasty. The event is still remembered today though sadly knowledge of this event seems to have slipped from being taught today in many U.S. history classes.

Laskin paints a portrait of the various people that came to live in the area to start a new life. Perhaps that is not a new story but consider they gave up everything to do so. Some came because land was too limited for their children to make a living or government edicts made it impossible either to stay or make a living. The journey to America was not easy for any of them but those who bonded together in common faith had a support group on the journey. Children were lost on the journey and it was not comfortable at all. First having to suffer through unpleasant conditions on ships and then finding out the rail car they reserved was nothing more than a glorified cattle car with hardly any amenities. When they arrived they found a land that stretched flat in all directions with the occasional clump of trees for shade. They began with the sod house and started farming the land.

They quickly learned though this was no Eden but often an unforgiving area. Prairie fires spread quickly through the tall grass. Locusts and grasshoppers would descend on their crops eating their hard earned work. And the winters were nothing like they experienced at home. They were not only exceptionally cold but dropped huge amounts of snow sometimes trapping them inside their homes for days. Early settlers learned how to make ersatz coffee and other foods while they waited out the storms. The cold and heavy snow winters were no fluke. They were the norm as they learned. Yet they persevered despite the many problems and raised families.

The other part of the story is the Weather Bureau and by extension the weather itself. The Weather Bureau was run by the Army Signal Corps. While there were dedicated personnel doing their jobs correctly, many were not. There was lots of graft and corruption inside it despite leadership that tried to correct the problems. The Weather Bureau was not considered reliable but remained largely intact due to lethargy on the part of Congress to reform it and those that supported keeping it in the Army Signal Corps. The Weather Bureau relied on weather readings from stations and reports by others to make its forecasts. Telegraph was the fastest means of the day to send messages but the offices were not manned 24 hours a day, not unlike the wireless operators at sea before Titanic disaster. The knowledge of weather systems was not as developed as it is today so they did not understand the severity of the weather that was heading towards them on that fateful day. But the lack of manning weather offices 24-7 meant urgent notices of changes were not read right away causing forecasts to be way off. Which is what happened here.

The day of the storm was unusually warm for January and many were out doing things. Farmers were outside tending their crops and livestock. Children were at school and people went about their daily business. They had no clue something was wrong until the storm slammed down on them all at once. First it got cold, very cold. The temperature dropped rapidly well below freezing (-40 in some places) and then was followed by howling 80 mile hour winds and blowing snow. The snow had been tossed around so much in the atmosphere that it was tiny but in a storm of this size millions of them became like a sandstorm in winter. You literally could not see your hands in front of your face. People were later found near their homes frozen inches from safety. Many kids in one room schools had to be sent home since there was not enough heat or the building suffered damage in the storm. Those that made it to a warm place or stayed in the schoolhouse that had warmth survived. Children that got separated or tried to walk home alone perished. Animals perished too often right were they stood. For many families, it was heart wrenching losing not just one but perhaps two or three children. Some bodies were not found till the spring thaw.

The aftermath of the storm did not immediately cause change at the Weather Bureau. Astonishingly there was not much public outcry against the Weather Bureau. General Greeley tried to play down how bad the storm was as typical press exaggeration, though later he changed his mind on that point. In fact the only person that was demoted was 1st Lieutenant Thomas Woodruff who was in charge of the Saint Paul office. And that was due to enemies he made in Saint Paul who were determined to drive him out and the fact his indications (forecasts) were considered lowest in the service. But two months later another blizzard would hit, this time in the American northeast hitting the major cities and completely shutting down New York. Like what happened two months prior, the forecast was totally inaccurate. In New York City all commerce and traffic came to halt. Elevated trains were stopped in their tracks. No vehicles could move in the streets. Power lines went down as did the telegraph isolating New York and other cities (including Washington D.C.) and everyone stayed inside until the storm had passed. 400 hundred people (estimated) died from being stranded when this storm struck quickly and hard. This time the reaction was loud from the New York press and quickly Greeley ordered weather stations to be manned 24-7 so they could update when forecasts changed. Most telegraph and telephone lines were moved underground as well. It also finally resulted in moving the Weather Bureau away from the Army Signal Corps into the Agriculture Department in 1890 (it would later move to Commerce under President Franklin Roosevelt and much later into National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration then renamed National Weather Service in 1970).

Life continued for many where the Children’s Blizzard occurred but over time, due to economic changes and the era of family farms dwindling, many of the farms disappeared. Today many areas where they once settled are empty returning slowly back to what it was when those settlers arrived. Perhaps that is the natural tide of history for archaeology has shown peoples have moved when the climate or trade routes changed. It is happening today but people are not recognizing quite that way. Just look at the once powerful industrial cities that fueled an industry that now are in decline. Laskin’s book is a fascinating look at an event in American history that is being sadly passed over these days in classrooms. And that forgetfulness is costly when the same type of cold storm comes down from the north causing severe damage, power outages, and sadly deaths.

Laskin, David The Children’s Blizzard, New York: HarperCollins, 2004
The book is available at Amazon in hardcopy, paperback and Kindle versions. Check your local library as well.

Titanic News For Superbowl Sunday

American football(Pictured above 2009 Pro Bowl) Photo: Public Domain
American football(Pictured above 2009 Pro Bowl)
Photo: Public Domain

1. Page For New Titanic 2 Ship Goes Down(2 Feb 2014,Cruise Ship News)
Both the bluestarline.com.au and titanic-ii.com websites redirect to a suspendedpage.cgi page that states the following message, “Template Error: The template file must be given (or the template could not be opened)”. This news has led some to feel that the new Titanic 2 ship is never coming and more about helping Clive Palmer’s political career, although we will leave that debate to the conspiracy theorists.

2.Spotlight: ‘Raise the Titanic’ by Clive Cussler(2 Feb 2014,News OK)
By now, readers know what to expect from Clive Cussler. He has written or co-authored 62 books, many of them thrillers focusing on Dirk Pitt, a darkly handsome, unstoppable hero who is something like an unlicensed James Bond. These days, Cussler’s portrayals of chivalry seem outdated and perhaps offensive, but he continues to churn out books, maintaining a consistent presence on the best-seller lists. He may never have become so popular if not for “Raise the Titanic,” a 1976 novel that introduced most readers to Pitt and launched Cussler’s career. The book, published long before Robert Ballard discovered the real resting place of the Titanic, was an unqualified success, in part because interest in the Titanic disaster never wanes. Pitt is tasked with bringing the remains of the great ship back to the surface in one piece, but as success draws nearer, dark forces are closing in.

3.Warhol-Style Exhibition Is Tribute To Titanic Victims (1 Feb 2014, Newtown Abbey Today)
Newtownabbey artist Lise McGreevy has paid tribute to “Titanic’s fallen” with an exhibition inspired by the style of Andy Warhol.The display entitled “We Salute You” is currently on show at The Dock Cafe near the Odyssey in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, until February 28, then onboard the Nomadic, the ship which ferried passengers to the iconic vessel before its ill-fated maiden voyage where it will be shown from March 24 until April 30.

4.Premier Exhibitions, Inc. Announces Partnership To Bring King Tut Exhibition To North America-Press Release(27 Jan 2014,PR Newswire )
Premier Exhibitions, Inc. (“Premier Exhibitions”) , a leading presenter of museum quality touring exhibitions, announced today that it will bring The Discovery of King Tut, an exhibition that recreates one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, to North America for the first time. The partnership with Semmel Concerts GmbH (“Semmel”), gives Premier Exhibitions the exclusive rights to tour the exhibition in North America. Semmel has successfully toured a similar exhibition in Europe since 2008, with approximately five million people experiencing the exhibition in 20 host cities.

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