Sometimes, the mythology surrounding a historical event can overtake the actual facts of the story—and, naturally, our memories of it become confused. When a particular interpretation of events becomes iconic enough, it can be easy to forget what really happened.
For example, long before the fictional Rose and Jack fell madly in love on her mighty bow, the RMS Titanic captivated people around the world as an unsinkable marvel in shipbuilding. Yet it soon became a massive tragedy just after the aughts of the 20th century had come to a close.
But there are many fascinating facts about the doomed ship that people still don’t know. Thankfully, we discovered these little-known Titanic trivia tidbits, proving the mighty ship is still as fascinating as ever…
1. The Titanic was equipped to carry 64 lifeboats, but it only carried 20: Most people are probably aware that the Titanic was ill-equipped for emergencies—it was “unsinkable,” after all. Yet there’s no excuse for why it didn’t store enough lifeboats… or why they weren’t filled to capacity when they were needed later.
Soerfm / Wikimedia Commons
2. Chief Baker Charles Joughlin reportedly swam for two hours in freezing waters before he was rescued: Joughlin attributed his survival to the generous amount of whiskey he drank before the Titanic sank.
3. After sideswiping a massive iceberg, it took two hours and 40 minutes for the Titanic to sink beneath the surface: Considering the number of people who lost their lives on that doomed ship, this must have seemed like an agonizingly long time.
4. Thirteen couples were on their honeymoon when the Titanic went under: It’s tragic that what was supposed to be one of the greatest experiences in these couples’s lives turned into such a gruesome nightmare. Hopefully more than a few of them managed to survive together.
5. Fourteen years before the Titanic sank, Morgan Robertson wrote a novella, called Futility, about a large, unsinkable ship—the Titan—striking an iceberg in the Northern Atlantic: Even more eerie was the fact that neither ship had enough lifeboats for the thousands of passengers on board.
6. Musicians played for more than two hours as the ship sank: The fact that the ship’s band continued playing as the doomed liner sank has been well documented, but few realize that, in the effort to boost morale, they were simultaneously performing and awaiting their own deaths.
7. A lifeboat drill was scheduled the day the Titanic sank, but was cancelled by Captain Edward John Smith for unknown reasons: This is just one of many examples of how the story of the Titanic was full of fate’s cruel sense of irony. Even without enough lifeboats, there’s no telling how many people would’ve been saved had they been prepared.
8. The 15 bulkheads on the “unsinkable” Titanic were individually watertight: The fatal flaw? Water could spill from one compartment into the next, with the weight of the water pulling the ship under. It’s just another example of how much could’ve been prevented if the Titanic‘s designers hadn’t been so overconfident about the ship’s indestructibility.
9. There was a true love story on the Titanic: Isador Straus, co-owner of Macy’s department store, and his wife Ida were first-class passengers. They were married 41 years before passing away arm-in-arm on the sinking ship.
Isidor refused a seat next to his wife on one of the last lifeboats, insisting that all women and children board first. Ida stepped off the lifeboat; she refused to leave without him. Witnesses reported seeing the couple walk to the opposite end of the ship where they held each other and peacefully awaited the end.
10. The length of the Titanic was 882 feet and nine inches: That’s approximately two-and-a-half football fields from bow to stern! The Titanic was not only notable for being “unsinkable” but for being absolutely massive. Still, it’d seem tiny compared to today’s cruise ships.
11. First-class amenities included a Parisian cafe, tea gardens, gymnasium, library, reading and writing rooms, squash court, barbershop, kennel, elevators, smoking room, and a heated swimming pool.
Much like many present-day cruise ships, the designers of the Titanic spared no expense when it came to making sure that the luxury liner had plenty of options for keeping its guests busy.
12. A new rust-eating bacteria, Halomonas titanicae, will consume what is left of the Titanic within 20 years: Two decades isn’t a very long time from now, is it? In just one generation, there will hardly be anything left of the Titanic—at least, physically speaking.
13. A passenger who lived through the traumatic fire and sinking of a ship in 1871 faced his fears and boarded the Titanic in 1912. He died with the ship: You’d think karma would’ve rewarded this man for finally overcoming his traumatic experiences, but it was not to be.
14. After striking the iceberg, 60 minutes passed before the first lifeboat was finally released: It’s shocking that it took such a long time before somebody finally decided that this was an emergency situation. It just goes to show how everyone was convinced the ship was “unsinkable.”
15. When the Titanic sank, the temperature of the ocean water was only 28 degrees: That’s four degrees below the freezing point! It’s easy to speculate that more people may have managed to survive had the water not been literally below freezing…
16. The remains of the Titanic were lost for 73 years: The shipwreck wasn’t found until an expedition in 1985, when it was located a whopping 12,500 feet below the surface just off the coast of Newfoundland. That’s a pretty long time to find one of the most famous shipwrecks in history!
17. The first newspapers to release the story of the Titanic initially reported that no lives were lost: It took two days before an accurate report was released. It may seem shocking, but it’s important to remember that, before the days of the Internet, information was difficult to verify quickly.
Kesäperuna / Wikimedia Commons
18. The opulent Turkish Bath was designated for first-class passengers only, while more than 700 third-class passengers had to share two bathtubs: The relationship between the rich and the poor was a contentious one, especially in 1912 when the Titanic sank.
19. The richest passenger on board the Titanic was John Jacob Astor IV: Astor’s net worth was around $85 million, or $2 billion today. Astor perished with the ship; he was last seen smoking a cigarette on deck with American journalist and mystery writer Jacques Futrelle. During such disastrous situations, social status doesn’t matter at all.
Materialscientist / Wikimedia Commons
20. More than 1,500 passengers died during the sinking of the Titanic, but only 306 bodies were found: There have been plenty of other tragedies throughout history, many of which have been even deadlier. Yet few can match the story of the Titanic when it comes to the combination of grandeur and cruel irony.
How did the Titanic not contain more lifeboats? Perhaps then Jack would have lived! Or, maybe if Rose had just scooted over—that door was big enough for both of them, after all…
Share these haunting Titanic facts with your friends below!