One hundred years ago, as passengers and crew members aboard the RMS Titanic counted down the minutes to certain death or despair, members of one well-known North Carolina family were out of harm’s way, having made a decision that likely changed the course of their lives.
The maritime tragedy, retold in countless movies and books, played out when the grand ocean liner collided with an iceberg in the frigid North Atlantic just before midnight April 14, 1912, sinking very early the following morning.
More than 1,500 souls were carried into an icy grave during Titanic’s maiden voyage from Southampton U.K., to New York. The 700 or so people who managed to survive faced life-threatening conditions in the open ocean until rescue efforts commenced.
But a stroke of luck meant that George Vanderbilt, whose vision is the inspiration for Asheville’s Biltmore estate, his wife, Edith, and their daughter, Cornelia, wouldn’t be counted on rolls naming the dead.
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