By: Martianne Stanger
We’ve all heard of the “unsinkable ship” the Titanic, right? But, did you know there was another ship far more unsinkable and much closer to home?
The Pilgrim was America’s first double-hulled steamship. It traveled from Fall River to New York in the 1800’s and survived a 100-foot hole being ripped in her bottom by an unexpected rock. Not only did she survive, but she stayed afloat, delivering all her passengers safely before going into dry dock for repair.
This was just one of the fun facts we discovered at the Marine Museum of Fall River, a small, local museum we visited on a field trip recently.
Much like when we went on a fun field trip (which has since been repeated!) to the Old Colony History Museum in Taunton, I had not heard of the Marine Museum of Fall River prior to being invited on a field trip there. This little gem of a marine museum has been around since 1968 and hosts events, offers community programs, and makes education a mission by offering in-museum field trips, classroom visits, and “museum in a box” options.
Our Visit to the Marine Museum
When we arrived for our field trip, we were warmly greeted by museum staff, who happily waited for the rest of our group beginning our scheduled tour.
Because our group had recently been studying the Titanic, our tour kicked off with a brief lecture about the Titanic and the museum’s Titanic collection. Within the lecture, our kind and knowledgeable tour guide, Paula, also included hitherto unknown-to-us facts about the historical Fall River Line of steamships. Then, while waiting for some children to return from the bathrooms so she could turn all the lights off in the museum to show us what the Titanic looked like in the dark on the night it sunk, Paula pointed out some of the other museum collection pieces, which ranged from playing cards made of whale bone…
… to life-size bedrooms and dining rooms from the Fall River Line Steamships…
… to plenty of models of ships.
Once everyone was ready, Paula turned off all the museum’s lights and drew our attention to a 28-foot RMS Titanic model which had working lights, giving the children a taste of what it might have looked like to pass the Titanic at night before she went down.
After that, our guide handed out two version of a Titanic scavenger hunt and set us off to discover what we could about the Titanic through the museum collection. With a little help from Mom, even the youngest members of our group became engaged in the hunt!
After completing the scavenger hunt and “running on the sinking Titanic,” we were free to explore the rest of the museum.
The museum held a varied collection of items from both peacetime and wartime marine history. Of course, my children were excited by the latter. If there is a canon or a gun in a museum, my kids will find it!
Finally, our tour group came back together to review what we found during the scavenger hunt, answer any further questions, and – surprise – to receive parting gifts, like a replica of a newspaper from when the Titanic went down!
As we drove home, and later in the evening, the children and I continued to refer back to our Marine Museum experience. It was a great way to spend a rainy morning – offering us glimpses of history, a bit of hands-on learning and another opportunity to make local and world history come alive.
If you’ve never visited the museum, I’d recommend it for the next rainy spring or summer day. Not only will it make an inexpensive historical adventure, but there are plenty of other attractions nearby to give your trip further impact.
The Marine Museum is open all year round, Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., as well as on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Seniors 62+: $6.00
Children (6-12 years): $6.00
Family Pack: $25.00
Members and Children aged 0-5 years: FREE
Groups are by prior arrangement only.
If you have a favorite local museum or outdoor spot, I’d love to hear about it! My family enjoys learning about history and culture – as well as just enjoying the great outdoors – at new, recommended locations!