844 People Die, Three Years After Boat Sank


This is the second part of a two part series exploring the sinking of the Titanic. Previously I asked the question: Did Reckless Living sink the Titanic?

Today I want to explore a little known footnote about the Titanic disaster, and some things that we can learn from it. We all know that the Titanic sunk almost exactly 100 years ago. Tragically, 1,517 people lost their lives. That was on April 15, 1912.

But did you know that 844 more people died three years later as a result of the sinking of the Titanic?

On July 24, 1915 Western Electric Company had hired three ships to take their employees from Chicago to Michigan City, Indiana for a company picnic. This was a huge opportunity for their workers, many who had never been that far from home before. There were thousands of employees with their families at the dock that morning, all excited for a new life experience.

When the ramps went down, 2,572 passengers quickly boarded the first of the ships, the S.S. Eastland (Pictured above).

The Eastland had been plowing the Great Lakes for 13 years, but she had a problem. She was known to be slightly top heavy. Too much weight at the top of the ship caused her to list to the side, and so precautions were taken to keep the weight distributed. That is until 2,500 people swarmed her upper decks.

The people alone might not have been enough to cause a problem. However, after the sinking of the Titanic, there was obvious outcry from the fact that there weren’t enough lifeboats for all of the passengers. Earlier in 1915 the Seaman’s Act had been passed, mandating that enough lifeboats be carried for all passengers.

To comply with the new regulations the Eastland was outfitted with large lifeboat davits and enough boats to carry everyone away in the event of a sinking.

This added an enormous amount of weight to the top of the ship that she was never designed to handle.

The Eastland after the disaster

Before the Eastland could even leave the dock on that July day she capsized. Whole families drowned. Neighborhoods in Chicago were nearly wiped out as those who lived together and worked together also died together.

844 people lost their lives.

How often do we feel pressure to add things to our lives because they are the things other families do? The schedule of the average American family is packed so tight that there is no physical, emotional, or spiritual margin. All it takes is the addition of one extra thing to send the whole works toppling over.

Many of us live under the weights created by expectations. Where should we live? What should out lifestyle look like? What activities should our kids be involved in? What kind of car should we drive? Where should we take our vacations?

What would happen if we took our entire life schedule, wiped the slate clean and simply asked the question: Who has God called you to be?