By Darryl Payne
Posted on March 16, 2015
On April 15, 1912, the world witnessed one of the worst maritime disasters to ever occur. 1,517 people lost their lives when Titanic, the largest luxury liner of her time, sank in the frigid North Atlantic.
News of the tragedy spread quickly, as did incredible tales of survival, including that of socialite and philanthropist Margaret Brown. As a first-class passenger, Ms. Brown was urged to take her spot on one of the few available lifeboats, but instead stayed aboard the ship to help others to safety. At 1 a.m. - just an hour before the ship finally sank - she was forced to board lifeboat number 6 as it was being lowered into the water, only 28 of its 65 seats filled.
The outspoken Ms. Brown not only led the women aboard the lifeboat in rowing for safety - an act that shocked the male crew members - but also insisted the boat return to try to save more passengers. Her courage and resourcefulness that night earned her the title "The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
Titanic Pigeon Forge: An Awe-Inspiring Monument
In the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Titanic Pigeon Forge pays tribute to the great ship and her passengers and crew with a true-to-life replica of the ship, educational programs, activities and more. Built in 2010, it's the largest permanent Titanic museum in the world and houses some 400 historical artifacts, including dinnerware, furniture and clothing.
More than 2.5 million visitors have glimpsed history as they climbed the famous ship's grand staircase, stood watch from the bridge, and even touched an "iceberg." With the addition of the Margaret Brown Gallery in 2014, guests have also enjoyed learning more about this "unsinkable" passenger.
The World of Molly Brown
Born in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri, Margaret Tobin and her five siblings were raised by immigrant parents. In 1886, while working in a department store in Leadville, Colorado, she met and married J.J. Brown. Although not wealthy at the time they married, he later amassed a small fortune when his engineering ideas helped his employer uncover a substantial ore deposit at a mining facility they owned. With 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board as a bonus for his efforts, J.J. and Margaret were instant socialites.
Margaret soon found her place in Denver's society circles, but she never lost her compassion for those less fortunate. She spent time working in soup kitchens and advocating for the poor, as well as supporting numerous other charities to help women and children in need.
Ms. Brown also loved to travel, and early 1912 found her touring Europe and North Africa. When she learned that her young grandson was ill, she purchased a ticket on Titanic for the voyage home. After the tragedy, she helped organize relief efforts for the survivors.
The Molly Brown Gallery At Titanic Pigeon Forge
In 2014, Titanic Pigeon Forge was honored to receive a spectacular collection of Molly Brown's personal treasures through a generous donation from her great-granddaughter. Ms. Brown's private papers and cherished possessions now have a permanent home in the museum, where every year, thousands of visitors will make their acquaintance with this legendary woman. No other museum houses such a collection, so making a trip to Pigeon Forge is a must for history buffs and Molly Brown fans alike.
When you visit the gallery, you'll not only see Ms. Brown's personal belongings, but also a selection of priceless artifacts from the ship itself. Crystal goblets, silver serving platters, and the gold-rimmed china that graced the dining tables in first class are all on display. Deck chairs where passengers enjoyed the early spring sunshine and woolen blankets embroidered with the White Star Line logo provide a look at history that you won't see anywhere else.
From Ms. Brown's personal collection, the museum features furniture and other treasures from her Rhode Island cottage, Mon Etui. An antique secretary hutch makes the perfect display case for a selection of handmade Irish crystal glassware, with pieces sized for various cocktails. Below it sits an intricately inlaid wooden serving tray, perfect for an afternoon tea or perhaps breakfast in bed.
In addition to her private belongings, the museum also proudly displays an evening gown featured in the 1964 Hollywood classic The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Starring Debbie Reynolds as Molly Brown and Harve Presnell as J.J., it's an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name.
Margaret "The Unsinkable Molly" Brown was legendary both for her philanthropy and her dedication to charitable causes. She was not willing to simply accept what life offered. She fought her way out of poverty, changed the lives of countless women and children in Denver and the surrounding areas, and, amid one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, earned a place in history.
Titanic Pigeon Forge is proud to offer the Molly Brown Gallery to visitors who want to learn more about this remarkable woman and the mark she left on the world.
About Darryl Payne
Darryl Payne is a native of East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He is a web developer with a passion for building great websites. As a local, he can offer a unique perspective on where to stay and things to do while on vacation in the Smokies. To read his latest recommendations, please click the Google+ follow button.