Today is the 42nd anniversary of the famous storm that resulted in the sinking of the ore-carrier Edmund Fitzgerald.
The wreck occurred just north of Whitefish Point in Lake Superior. Twenty-nine men were lost as the Fitzgerald sank in 530 feet of water. The ship was launched June 8, 1958, and was the largest ship on the Great Lakes until 1971. It was carrying a cargo of 26,116 tons of taconite pellets, which are used in the steelmaking industry.
A popular song by Canadian folk-singer Gordon Lightfoot titled “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart one year later (lyrics). You can hear the song here and see a list of Great Lakes shipwrecks.
A service is held in River Rouge Michigan to pay honor to those lost on the Fitzgerald. A bell tolls 29-times for the 29 men (who ranged in age from 21 to 63) who were lost that night, plus one additional time for all those lost in the Gales of November on the Great Lakes. The service is free and is streamed on the web. Read more here and here.
Here’s video of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the floor of Lake Superior. Here’s simulated waves for the Fitzgerald Storm. And here’s audio from that fateful night. Here’s where there are ships on the Great Lakes right now.
Approximately 240 ships have sunk in the Whitefish Point area since the first recorded sinking in 1816.
We’ve had quite a few of our strongest low pressure storms during this second week of November, including the Freshwater Fury of 1913, the Armistice Day Storm of 1940 (strongest wind gust ever in G.R.) and the Nov. 10, 1998 storm that was similar to the storm in 1975.