Patti Callahan Joins Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum and Shipwreck Hunter Micah Eldred to Launch New Exhibition

Staff Report

Friday, May 13th, 2022

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.

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.”

Micah Eldred and Endurance Exploration Group

Micah Eldred is the founder and CEO of the Endurance Exploration Group, which discovered the Pulaski shipwreck in 2018 about 30 miles off Wilmington, North Carolina, in what Eldred terms a “shallow wreck.” Partnering with Blue Waters Ventures International, Eldred’s team felt sure the wreck they located was the Pulaski. When they found a small metal tag with the words “SB Pulaski” engraved on it, they were certain. Micah has loaned artifacts from the shipwreck to the Rising to the Surface exhibition.

Editor’s Note: a preview for the media will be arranged TBD in June. Stay tuned for more information.