It’s a sad and historic anniversary, yesterday was the the 15th of April, the 100th anniversary of sinking of the Titanic. Amid the 3d showings of the movie and the wild commercialism that seems endless, I wondered what else might be lurking in the Titanic story within my own field of interest. The Paranormal.
As it turns out, there’s quite alot.
Firstly are the prophetic circumstances surrounding the wreck itself. In 1898 an author named Morgan Robertson published a short story entitled ‘Futility’ that bore striking resemblances to the Titanic disaster of 1912. Everything from striking an iceberg on it’s maiden voyage, it’s home port of Southampton, claimed unsinkability due to watertight compartments and a lack of sufficient lifeboats were all eerily similar. Perhaps the most creepy aspect is that Morgan’s ship was named The Titan.
Another paranormal tidbit in Titanic lore are the artifacts. Owned more or less by a single company, and the whole lot coming up for auction soon, there are numerous accounts of the exhibit being haunted. Stories abound from people touring the exhibit seeing things, a famous television investigation team capturing EVP’s, and employees emphatically claiming paranormal activity. Claims range from an employee feeling hands in her hair, shadowy figures walking the corridors, and even an elderly woman haunting a replica of a cabin.
One famous story about Titanic is unfortunately not true. A legend has developed about a mummy shipped aboard the vessel, suggesting, as usual, that a mummy curse sank the Titanic. In fact, there was no mummy on the ship, and the mummified Egyptian in question never existed (except in Ancient times). The whole thing traces to the only extant artifact, a coffin lid in the British Museum, that’s still there to this day. The mummy story must be chalked up to a typical gilded age tall tale, a textbook one, as Tutankamun’s curse must also be. The simple fact is, the man that opened the tomb, Howard Carter… lived for years after his discovery. The curse story persisted, and the model seems to have been recycled into the Titanic saga.
Perhaps the most interesting paranormal phenomena associated with the Titanic is the Captain of the ship, Edward Smith, haunting his birthplace. Located in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire England, the victorian era home has been claimed to be flagrantly haunted by Smith. He is reportedly seen in the bedroom of the home in anthropomorphic form, and cold chills (fitting, perhaps) are reported in other areas of the house. Disconcertingly, residents reported a mysterious kitchen flood that they suspect had something to do with the ghost. The house is on the market for what seems to be an unusually low price, should any Titanic aficionado wish to buy it and investigate further.
It should be no surprise that such a traumatic and emotional event as the Titanic disaster would create ghosts, or at least stories about them. 1500 people died that night under truly horrific circumstances, and if the paranormalists are to be believed these emotions imprinted on the artifacts and surely the ship itself. I could find no reliable reports of anything being seen on the wreck itself, but this is not surprising. Low light, explorers confined to submarines, murky water and the fact that most of the victims would have perished floating on the freezing surface of the ocean instead of miles down on the wreck would tend to explain that. But one must wonder if someday, some expedition might catch something unusual on it’s cameras.