Tuesday, October 17, 2017
   
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Titanic ties up in Smoky Mountains!

...and you can see THAT staircase - no bother at all! By ANDREA McVEIGH

IT WAS the last thing we expected to see as we drove along the roads of the Smoky Mountains towards Pigeon Forge, home of Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood.

We almost ran off the road when we saw the giant signs that said ‘Titanic - World’s Largest Museum Attraction.’ Titanic? In landlocked Tennessee?

We thought it must have been some sort of mistake. But sure enough, when we asked at the Tourist Office they told us that yes, there was a half-size replica of the famous Belfast-built liner, with hundreds of artefacts ‘on-board’.

Armed with information about the museum, we set the sat nav to 2134 Parkway, but we didn’t really need GPS. We could see for ourselves the giant replica of the ship rising up from the side of the road as we drove towards our destination.

We didn’t know what to expect, but we soon found that this is no tacky cash-in. We were thoroughly impressed and inspired by both the scale of the ship-shaped building and also by the exhibits inside.

Each visitor gets a boarding pass with the name of a real-life passenger or crew member and his or her biography - I was Lucile Carter, a 1st class passenger and wife of William Carter, of the Philadelphia Carters, one of the most prominent families in that city.

At the end of the visit you can check ‘your’ name against a list of survivors and deceased in the Titanic Memorial Room to see what your fate would have been. I was relieved to find out that Lucile did indeed survive, she was one of the fortunate ones.

What impressed us most was the prominence given to the ship’s origins in Belfast. The first exhibit hall had a giant black and white photo of the Harland & Wolff shipyard workers of the early 20th century - we had travelled all the way to Tennessee to see our home town, and what a glorious sight it was.

To read the rest of Andrea McVeigh's feature on Tennessee and see all the pictures, pick up a copy of Northern Ireland Travel News...

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