Forty-four years ago today the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank on November 10, 1975. Launched in 1958, she was then the largest ship on the Great Lakes, and she remains the largest ship to have sunk on the Lakes. For 17 years she transported taconite iron ore from Duluth to various ports on the Great Lakes.
The Fitzgerald left Superior on November 9, 1975 bound for a steel mill near Detroit. She and a companion ship SS Arthur Anderson were caught the next day on Lake Superior in a very severe storm with near hurricane. The Fitzgerald suddenly sank in 530 feet of water at 7:10 PM, 15 miles from the safety of Whitefish Bay. All 29 members of the crew perished, none of their bodies ever recovered.
The reason for the sinking remains unclear, although I lean towards the theory that some of the cargo hatches were not securely fastened, and that water leaking into the holds imperceptibly led to the sinking once the tipping point was reached.
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was written by Gordon Lightfoot after he read a story about the sinking.
The day after the sinking the Mariner’s Church in Detroit rang its bell 29 times, a tradition kept until 2006 when the memorial was broadened to remember all lives lost on the Great Lakes.
The crew who perished on the Fitzgerald:
|Captain Ernest M. McSorley||Michael E. Armagost||Fred J. Beetcher||Thomas D. Bentsen|
|Edward F. Bindon||Thomas D. Borgeson||Oliver J. Champeau||Nolan S. Church|
|Ransom E. Cundy||Thomas E. Edwards||Russell G. Haskell||George J. Holl|
|Bruce L. Hudson||Allen G. Kalmon||Gorden Maclellan||Joseph Mazes|
|John H. McCarthy||Eugene O’Brien||Karl A. Peckol||John J. Poviach|
|James A. Pratt||Robert C. Rafferty||Paul M. Rippa||John D. Simmons|
|William J. Spengler||Mark A. Thomas||Ralph G. Walton||David E. Weiss|
|Blaine H. Wilhelm|