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The Titanic Exhibition At The Luxor Hotel In Las Vegas
A Journey Into The Day The Titanic Sank
Visiting the Titanic Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel here in Las Vegas is about as close as most of us are likely to come to understanding the Titanic tragedy that took place on April 14, 1912. There are things that happen in history that people will never forget. The most recent of these tragedies is the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2001.
And another tragedy that people remembered until the day of their own passing was the sinking of the Titanic on April 14, 1912. It's one of those days where people remembered exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of this tragedy. The remains of the Titanic were found in 1985, and are located about 1,000 miles due East of Boston, Massachusetts, in the Atlantic ocean.
When you first enter into the Titanic Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel, you are given a "boarding pass" similar to the boarding passes that the passengers received when embarking on their journey on the Titanic. This boarding pass gives you the name of a passenger, and at the end of your tour through the history and artifacts of the Titanic, you can look up on a passenger roster to find out whether the person's name you were given survived this disaster, or perished. The boarding pass that I was given was for three second class passengers on the Titanic.
I was given the name of Miss Annie Jessie "Nina" Harper. She was a six year old child from England and was traveling with her Father, who was a Baptist Minister at the Walworth Road Baptist Church in England. They were traveling from England en route to Chicago, Illinois so he could preach at the Moody Church there. They were also traveling with Nina's Aunt, Miss Jessie Leitch, who was along to care for her. Her mother had unfortunately passed away three years earlier.
On the ship, Miss Nina Harper (who preferred to be called "Nan") met and played with a seven year old child, named Miss Eva Hart. Eva Hart was traveling with her parents, and her family was also in the second class section of the ship. They were on the way to Winnipeg, Manitoba where her father was going to open a drug store. Since the girls were so close in age, they played together on the Titanic and even kept in contact for years after the tragedy. Miss Eva Hart remembered her Mother being very upset about going on this boat, she had a premonition that something terrible would happen... and Eva had said it was the first time she had seen her Mother cry. On this fateful night, she was awakened, wrapped in a blanket and told to "hold mummy's hand and be a good girl." She and her Mother were then lowered into lifeboat number 14. That was the last time she saw her father.
Her story is very similar to that of Miss Nina "Nan" Harper. She also was awakened in the night by her Father and wrapped in a blanket, then he kissed her goodbye and handed her to a crewman who placed her on her Aunt Jessie's lap on lifeboat number 11. She was never to see her Father again, he perished aboard the Titanic. Since she had lost her Mother three years earlier, she was an orphan after the Titanic tragedy, and was raised in England by her Father's brother, her Uncle. When she first arrived in New York, she couldn't understand why her Father wasn't with her in this new country. She was quoted as saying "I left Papa on the big boat, and he told me to go with Aunt Jessie... Now, I want Papa." Little Nan and Miss Leich returned to England a week later.
When Nan Harper grew up, she married in 1934 and became Mrs. Pont. Her husband was a reverend at St. John's Rectory in Moffat, Dumfriesshire. When she was 72 years old, someone had asked her whether she would like to see the Titanic raised... she had replied that she "didn't see much point in it after all this time." Nina Harper (later known as Mrs. Nan Harper Pont) passed away in 1986, and she was living in Glasgow, Scotland at that time.
It was reported years later, that Nina "Nan" Harper Pont had written a letter in which she had described what she saw that horrific night. She was sitting in her Aunt's lap when she watched the Titanic sink. Even at such a young age, her memories were still very vibrant. She recalled hearing the screams of the drowning people, and watching the lights all go out. She was told later never to speak of the sinking, and it wasn't until years later that she actually did speak about it.
Her friend, Miss Eva Hart, who was only age 7 at the time was very vocal about what she saw and experienced and was quoted as saying "I saw that ship sink. I never closed my eyes. I didn't sleep at all. I saw it, heard it, and nobody could possibly forget it." "I can remember the colors, the sounds, everything. The worst thing I can remember are the screams." Paused... "And then the silence that followed. It seemed as if once everybody had gone, drowned, finished, the whole world was standing still. There was nothing, just this deathly, terrible silence in the dark night with the stars overhead."
She was especially outspoken about the lack of lifeboats aboard the Titanic. She was quoted as saying "If a ship is torpedoed, that is war. If it strikes a rock in a storm, that is nature, but just to die because there weren't enough lifeboats, that's ridiculous." She also felt that the wreck of the Titanic was a grave site, and should be treated as such. She wrote a book, an autobiography, about her experiences, called "Shadow Of The Titanic - A Survivor's Story." Eva passed away at the age of 91 on February 14, 1996 at her home in Chadwell Heath.
By passing out these boarding passes at the entrance of the exhibit. it puts a really personal spin on the Titanic tragedy. It allows you to find information even after your tour is finished about the person whose boarding pass you were given, and allows you to almost feel a connection to that person. Otherwise, the tour would be pieces of metal, dishes and artifacts that were collected at the site of the Titanic's sinking.
While it is also extremely interesting to see these artifacts, I especially loved the "personal" side of this tour. One artifact that they have recovered, and it is on display, is a large section of the ship, Titanic. There is a picture there that shows exactly where this huge piece was located, and the most fascinating thing is how LITTLE this huge piece appears to be when compared to the rest of the Titanic. It gives you a very good idea just how massive this ship truly was!
Another very interesting part of the tour is seeing the replica of the "grand staircase" that was on the Titanic, as well as the passenger rooms. You were able to see how the "classes" played a huge part back then. First and second class passengers had paid quite a bit more for their tickets, so they were given quite stunning accommodations. The third class passengers were put into very small rooms, four persons to a room, and their "area" aboard the ship was blocked off from the rest of the ship. It just showed how "class" made a huge difference in who lived and who perished in the tragedy.
Of the 2,228 passengers that were on board that fateful night, only 705 were survivors of this horrific tragedy. About 1,517 people perished. And most of those were the crew members, third class passengers, and men from second and first class. They were instructed by the captain to save "women and children first." And it was mostly women and children that were put on the life boats, although some men managed to get onto the life boats, most perished.
Taking the Titanic Exhibition tour at the Luxor Hotel here in Las Vegas is truly a worthwhile thing to do, and something I personally will never forget. The artifacts will be on display there until the year 2018. It is definitely worth seeing and experiencing!