WATCH: 39 Years Later, Remembering The Edmund Fitzgerald

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The Edmund Fitzgerald

The story of the Edmund Fitzgerald is one of the seminal tales of the Great Lakes. When she was launched, the Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship on the Great Lakes. Add to that a “DJ Captain” who would play music day or night while going through the straits of Detroit and a record-breaking performance record, boat watchers loved the Fitzgerald.

One of the great east side pastimes for family and friends was to check the shipping tables and freighter-watch. Today, if you go to BoatNerd.com, you can see where the ships are in the Great Lakes. Be sure to click on the “ship reports.”

Instead of re-writing it, here’s the brief synopsis on what happened on that harrowing day to the Fitzgerald in Lake Superior from Wikipedia:

Carrying a full cargo of ore pellets with Captain Ernest M. McSorley in command, she embarked on her final voyage from Superior, Wisconsin, near Duluth, on the afternoon of November 9, 1975. En route to a steel mill near Detroit, Michigan, the Fitz joined a second freighter, the SS Arthur M. Anderson. By the next day, the two ships were caught in the midst of a severe winter storm on Lake Superior, with near hurricane-force winds and waves up to 35 feet (11 m) high. Shortly after 7:10 p.m., the Fitzgerald suddenly sank in Canadian waters 530 feet (160 m) deep, approximately 17 miles (15 nautical miles; 27 kilometers) from the entrance to Whitefish Bay near the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario—a distance the Fitzgerald could have covered in two hours at her top speed. Although the Fitzgerald had reported being in difficulty earlier, no distress signals were sent before she sank; Captain McSorley’s last message to the Anderson said, “We are holding our own.” Her crew of 29 all perished, and no bodies were recovered.

There are many ideas and theories around why the grand ship sunk 17 years into her service, but the exact cause still isn’t known.

Today, as it’s the 39th anniversary of the sinking (November 10), we found this tribute video by Bob Haworth and thought to share it (it is embedded below) to not only bring back memories for those who there during the time but also give a little bit of color for those who weren’t.

If you have trouble viewing the video, click here.

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