Southern Tides Magazine June 2022
SAVANNAH'S TITANIC EXHIBIT
One of the greatest disasters known to Savannah and Charleston was nearly forgotten. The explosion of the Steamship Pulaski during the night of June 14, 1838, killed wealthy businessmen
and families from Savannah and Charleston, enslaved individuals, seamen, and a former U.S. Congressman.
Now the story is being told at Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum in a new exhibition, Rising to the Surface: A Summoning of Savannah’s Titanic. The display is curated by museum curator and interim executive director of Ships of the Sea, Wendy Melton, and is bolstered by contributions from New York Times best-selling author Patti Callahan and shipwreck hunter Micah Eldred, who found the wreckage of the Pulaski in 2018.
Rising to the Surface opens at Ships of the Sea Friday, June 17 at 6:00 p.m., with one of America’s most captivating storytellers, Patti Callahan, examining what we know and can imagine about that fateful night. Joining Patti is Micah Eldred, who reveals the real-life story of solving one of our country’s most durable maritime mysteries.
Tickets to the event are $25 and can be ordered in advance via Eventbrite. After the lecture, guests will enjoy a guided tour of the exhibition. A cash bar will be available. The exhibit will
be open through December 30, 2022.
Patti Callahan & Surviving Savannah
Patti Callahan believes that some stories want to be told. “Discovering untold stories is like having a great secret whispered in your ear,” she says. “And this story is one of those secrets.” Further, Callahan declares her deep-rooted feeling that the explosion of
the Pulaski “impacted places I love, Savannah and Bluffton.”
Determined to find the story, Patti undertook intense research, utilizing materials from Ships of the Sea and the Georgia Historical Society that inspired her fascinating, dual-timeline historical novel, Surviving Savannah.
Surviving Savannah tells the story of one of the families on the Pulaski, and also explores “our collective idea that survival merits some kind of worthiness, that everything happens
for a reason, and that our lives are destined to end up in certain ways,” Callahan says.
Patti was only three weeks into her research and plotting the storyline for Surviving Savannah when a headline appeared on her computer screen stating the shipwreck of the Pulaski had been
found. Since then, Patti and shipwreck hunter Micah Eldred have spoken numerous times, and together they can provide a full picture of the Pulaski, past and present.
Rising to the Surface
“Patti and Micah’s input has been integral to the Rising to the Surface exhibition,” said Melton. “Since the Titanic sank in 1912, the Pulaski has been known as the ‘Titanic of the South’ in maritime circles. Incorporating some of Patti’s research and Micah’s artifacts helped us create a richly layered exhibit that brings the tragic story back to life.”
About Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum was founded in 1966. The museum exhibits ship models, paintings, and maritime antiques, and interprets the rich story of Savannah's illustrious maritime history. Ships of the Sea is housed in the William Scarbrough House, built in 1819, and is home to the largest private gardens in Savannah’s historic district. Many consider Ships of the Sea to be one of the best maritime museums in the country.
Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
41 Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, Savannah
Top left : Depiction of the Pulaski explosion depicted in an 1848 book by Charles Ellms. Image provided by the NC Dept. of Cultural Resources
Top right: Cover of Patti Callahan's novel Surviving Savannah.
Bottom: A pocket watch found in the Pulaski shipwreck. Image provided by Endurance Exploration