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Local Titanic expert presents program on ill-fated vessel

Residents and visitors to Shady Valley were treated to a special free presentation on the Titanic at the Shady Valley Elementary School Saturday night. Conducted by local minister and Titanic expert, Howard Taylor, the presentation coincided with the 100th anniversary of the famous ship’s tragic sinking on the night of April 14, 1912.
With volumes of books, songs, and films made about the vessel, the Titanic is arguably the most famous ship in history. At its completion the ship was the largest moveable object ever constructed by man. Owned by White Star Lines, the Titanic carried more than 2000 people on her maiden voyage, leaving the shores of England and Ireland on a journey to New York City across the North Atlantic.
Despite repeated warnings and the ironic statement that even God could not sink her, the Titanic met its fate at the hands of a massive iceberg floating silently in an unusually calm sea. Although the ship was billed as impenetrable due to state of the art technology that would allow certain parts of the ship to be flooded yet still float, the extent of the damage caused by hitting the huge piece of ice at high rates of speed, and the length of the gash in the vessel’s hull ultimately caused it to plunge to the ocean floor over two and a half miles below the surface, taking more than 1500 lives with it.
Taylor not only presented the story of the Titanic but also gave insight into some of the experiences of those who survived. With 20 lifeboats on board, the Titanic only had enough capacity for about half of the total passengers, but due to lack of organization and preparation many of the lifeboats were not filled, leaving only 705 survivors of the harrowing event.
Having studied the Titanic for years, Taylor was fortunate enough to attend the Titanic Historical Society’s annual convention in 1987, where he was able to interview nine of the 24 remaining survivors at the time. When asked what inspired him to learn so much about the famous ship, Taylor replied that, “Many years ago I read a book called, ‘A Night to Remember,’ and it was such a wonderful book that it just captured my interest. From there I just kept going, learning everything I could, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
For the full story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.