The RMS Titanic set out on its maiden voyage with more than 2,200 people aboard in April 1912. Tragically, only 706 of those passengers would survive. The ship was moving too fast one freezing night and struck an iceberg and sank. Those who perished in the accident suffered a terrifying and agonizing death. Any paranormal enthusiast will tell you that strong emotions paired with untimely death are key ingredients in most hauntings.
For eight decades, the RMS Titanic and all its contents sat at the bottom of the Atlantic until underwater excavation teams brought artifacts back up to the surface. Now these pieces of history are offering a rare glimpse at what it was like to be on the massive ship and hints at the ghostly spirits that still linger around the doomed vessel. The pieces displayed apparently still have a connection to the former passengers who possessed them. Read on to discover some of their spooky tales.
The Titanic Artifact Exhibition at The Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas apparently has a ghost wandering its grand staircase. Employees and guests alike have seen this mysterious woman, who wears a black period dress with a white collar and her hair in a bun.
As a photographer prepped for the opening of the exhibition, he spotted the woman casually walking down the Grand Staircase. He was startled, as he hadn’t seen anyone enter, and the staircase was roped off. He assumed she was part of the exhibit and asked if she’d like him to photograph her. She ignored him. He went back to setting up, but suddenly she was directly behind him. Again, he offered a photograph and this time she didn’t just ignore him - she vanished.
The exhibit at The Luxor includes a portrait of J Bruce Ismay, one of the Titanic’s builders. He apparently fled the sinking ship, leaving women and children behind. Witnesses on the lifeboats claim he kept his back to the ship as it sank, and allegedly, he was the one insisting the ship speed up after receiving ice warnings. Perhaps it's not surprising that the ghosts of the Titanic seem to dislike him.
One early morning as the crew came in to open the exhibit, they found the portrait of Ismay on the floor. The manager watched the surveillance video from the night before and was stunned to see the picture begin shaking before coming off of the wall, apparently of its own accord.
What if you saw a ghost without even realizing it? In the case of Second Officer Leonard Bishop of the SS Winterhaven, that was exactly what happened. In 1977, he gave a tour of the ship to a man who he assumed was a passenger. The British man was very soft spoken and extremely interested in every detail of the vessel, almost unusually so. Bishop found the man to be a bit strange - not unpleasant, just odd.
It wasn’t until a few years later, after seeing a photo of Titanic Captain Edward John Smith that Bishop realized why the situation felt so off. Bishop exclaimed to a friend, "I know him, I gave him a tour of my boat!" The friend laughed and informed Bishop that the man had been long dead: "That man was the captain of the Titanic!"
Frederick Fleet, a British sailor, served as the lookout aboard the RMS Titanic. He spotted the deadly iceberg and warned the bridge. Tragically, his warning came too late; the ship was going too fast to avoid a collision. Fleet survived the sinking of the Titanic, but not his own depression. After his wife’s death just after Christmas in 1964, he was evicted by his brother-in-law and hung himself in the garden.
His grave went unmarked until the Titanic Historical Society erected a headstone for him in 1993. It appears his spirit is not quite at rest, however. Witnesses have claimed to see him keeping watch over the Las Vegas exhibition’s Promenade Deck, perhaps driven by his guilt to keep watch, even in death.