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CNHI Special Projects

April 14, 2012

Famous 'unsinkable' passenger remembered at museum

(Continued)

DENVER —

Brown wrote that she was watching from a deck after the Titanic hit the iceberg and was thrown into lifeboat No. 6. She rowed all night with its mostly female crew until the rescue ship Carpathia arrived.

Before the disaster, Brown was well known in the Mile High City for her charity and social reform work, such as fundraising to build Immaculate Conception Cathedral and mountain camps for poor children and orphans. After the sinking, she gained fame for raising money from rich Titanic survivors to help poorer passengers, making sure they had a place to go when they got to New York.

In 1914, she was called on to help ease tensions after 20 people, including women and children, died when the National Guard opened fire on striking coal miners and set fire to a tent colony in Ludlow, an operation owned by John D. Rockefeller. Brown also helped with relief efforts during World War I and ran for the U.S. Senate in 1914, six years before women could vote nationally.

The museum, a few blocks from the state Capitol, is offering Titanic-themed tours this year and some recent visitors sang songs from the musical on the front porch as they waited to begin. At the end, they were surprised to learn that Brown, despite having just an eighth-grade education, spoke several languages — which came in handy with the Titanic's international collection of passengers — and had planned to take another trip on the Titanic, in part to take advantage of its well-stocked library.

Some of her own books are included in the museum's library, which like the rest of the home is lit by dim 15-watt bulbs like the ones she used. Upstairs, there's a copy of Brown's Titanic insurance claim, recording the loss of items including 14 hats, "street furs" and a $20,000 necklace. There are no Titanic items in the stone Victorian — which was saved from demolition in 1970 — thought there is a binnacle, a nonmagnetic stand that held navigational instruments, from the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic.

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