Even at 100 years old, the story of Titanic's fateful maiden voyage still captivates.
At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg that tore open her side -- and she began taking on water immediately. Despite the confidence of her passengers that she was "practically unsinkable," the miracle of the modern age sank beneath icy waters at 2:20 a.m. on April 15. Of her 2,223 passengers, 1517 perished.
The missteps, accidents and bad decisions that led to the tragedy are Shakespearian in scope and quantity. The men in the crow's nest did not have binoculars -- they'd been left behind in England. The Marconi operators focused on the important work of sending guest messages and neglected several serious iceberg warnings intended for Captain Smith. Smith himself disregarded the warnings he did receive in an effort to reach New York in record time. There were only enough lifeboats for about half of the passengers. Lifeboats were launched under capacity. These mistakes and ill-fated decisions could fill their own chapter on human hubris.
But Titanic's brief story includes many examples of men and women rising up with courage and kindness in the face of disaster. Witness the Titanic band heard playing inspirational music til the very last. And Ida Strauss, wife of Macy's co-owner Isador Strauss, who refused to board a lifeboat because her husband would not board while there were still women and children on the deck of Titanic. She was heard to say to her husband, "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." They went down with the ship together. Captain Smith, facing death with the men in his command, told them to 'be British.'
I've been fascinated with the story since I was a boy. Titanic takes hold of you and you're kind of stuck together for life. I'm looking forward to being in Colorado for this year's 100th anniversary of the sinking -- Colorado has two very famous citizens that were aboard the Titanic that night: Margaret Brown (who survived to become known as the unsinkable Molly Brown) and millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim (a mining and smelting tycoon from Leadville who died on the ship).
There are lots of ways to mark the anniversary of the Titanic. Check out these fun events in Leadville. And, of course, Fresh City Life has got a couple tributes planned too -- all the details here. How often does a Titanic turn 100? -- we're going to give her a great party!