The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., which features an iceberg embedded… (Titanic Museum )
Many events are planned this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, but ice-carving competitions? Spokesman Rick Laney of Titanic museums in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Branson, Mo., sees no taste issues with the sister sites hosting such events. Both museums, he says, serve as respectful memorials to the roughly 1,500 passengers and crew members who lost their lives when the legendary ship struck an iceberg in 1912.
"Our objective every day is to honor those people by telling their story," Laney says of the museums that share a collection of 1,800 artifacts related to the Titanic.
The Pigeon Forge site will host ice carvers from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at an event that last year drew about 5,000 people. On Feb. 4 and 5, the Titanic Museum in Branson will host a preliminary round of the 2012 National Ice Carving Competition. Laney says the museums host many different events throughout the year, including princess tea parties, and that ice-carving is a perfect cold-weather tourist attraction.
Ice-carving aside, the museums themselves have interesting facades: Each is a half-scale re-creation of part of the Titanic, complete with a faux fateful iceberg embedded on one side. Inside, reproductions of a first-class stateroom, third-class cabin, part of the grand staircase and other parts of the ship and artifacts are part of the display. (Check out this photo gallery.)
The collection comes via owners Mary Kellogg-Joslyn and her husband, John, who was co-leader of the 1987 Titanic Expedition, the first to see the wreck site and recover items, and who made several documentaries about the landmark discovery.
One of the prized possessions on display: A life vest belonging to one first-class passenger, then 18-year-old Madeleine Astor, the young wife of millionaire John Jacob Astor, the richest man aboard the Titanic. He died, but his wife was rescued. "There are only nine life vests from the Titanic," Laney says, noting that it is insured for $1.5 million.