Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

April 5, 2013

Edmund Fitzgerald

Having just been to Niagara Falls in the fall of 1975 and seeing a couple of the Great Lakes, I was very fascinated by the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975 in Lake Superior.  The Big Fitz was an American freighter and was one of the biggest on the Lakes when it was launched in 1958.  Less than 20 years later, she'd be at the bottom of Superior, with her 29 crew still on board.  

"Big Fitz" was making its last run of the season, loaded with iron ore pellets.  A second ship, the Arthur Anderson, was following about 20 miles behind the Fitz. The storm overtook them both. Captain Cooper  of the Anderson maintained radio contact with Captain McSorley throughout the storm.  Captain McSorley's last words were, 'We are holding our own'.

Various theories have been put forth about what could have caused the invincible ship to go down. Some thought that the ore hatches weren't secured correctly, causing the hold to fill with water.  Some thought the ship bottomed out on the shoals approaching Whitefish Bay.  Others thought a rogue wave crashed on deck, splitting the ship in half and sinking it.


It's wreckage was found shortly after it went down.  In 1995, to mark the 20th anniversary, the ship's bell was brought to the surface, and a new bell installed on the wreck with the names of all who perished.  Further dives to the ship are illegal and forbidden.  

Finally I leave you with Gordon Lightfoot's haunting ballad from 1976, a song which brings me to tears every time I hear it.

21 comments:

  1. you are invited to follow my blog

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  2. JoJo, thank you for that reminder and all the information I never knew before about this tragic event. I grew up listening to that song - but that video is even more powerful. Thanks for posting this.

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  3. very interesting post--love that song and him :)

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  4. Yes, the video is powerful. I should have mentioned that when the Fitz was first launched (the footage of it is in that video), it hit the water so violently that one of the spectators had a heart attack and died. What makes that video even more poignant is hearing the original radio transmissions. Haunting.

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  5. I can't believe I never heard of this before. We visited there when I was a child and I don't recall being told of this tragedy. How awful.

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  6. Cool post JoJo.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

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  7. This post is informative and poignant. You weave a good historical story. Seriously enjoyed this!

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  8. Thanks for sharing the video. So powerful and moving.

    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  9. I too grew up hearing this song, but had never seen the video before. I agree, very powerful.

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  10. Excellent choice, JoJo. I love that song, but I get choked up hearing it too. I think of all the families who suffered losses because of that storm. I never knew The Great Lakes could have such storm power.

    Gordon Lightfoot's songs will live on for a long time.

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  11. Great post! Love how you told the story with words and photos and maps and music and video--nicely done!

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  12. Storms on those great lakes can be ferocious!

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  13. Very interesting post, JoJo! There is something about unsolved tragedies that keeps them haunting us so many years later. I remember hearing the song and asking about it as a kid. It made me think of the Bermuda Triangle, that kind of thing. How cool about the bell, though. There are tendencies about mankind that are depressing, but it is so touching to me that we DO make the effort to remember, and to let them know that we will remember.

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  14. It sank with 29 people aboard. That's depressing.

    Story Treasury

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  15. I love that song, and always wondered the story behind it. Thanks for sharing.

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

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  16. Interesting JoJo.Im learning so much here.

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  17. Over and above the tragedy of this ship sinking, it was the last trip of the season. Everyone was going home for the winter after this trip.

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  18. Great choice for the F - I've always been fascinated by this ship, and can hear Gordan Lightfoot in my head.
    Growing up on the ocean - not so much different from some of the Great Lakes - made me very aware of ship sinkings. Does any one remember the Andrea Doria or the Thresher?

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  19. Oh yes, I remember that song!! I've always been fascinated by shipwrecks. We have one here in Oregon at Fort Stevens State Park--it's out on the sand.

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  20. Your post was beautiful and hauntingly sad.

    They called it "The Perfect Storm", guess no one will ever know for certain just what caused the ship to sink that day but the Edmund Fitzgerald has become a national legend.

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  21. A really wonderful post, Joanne. Pass me a Kleenex, will ya? That video made me cry, too.

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