Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald

34 years ago today, on the cold blue waters of Lake Superior, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank for disputed reasons to the very bottom in a ferocious November storm. On board were 29 sailors, boyfriends and sons and fathers and brothers and friends, etc. This was a shocking development to all of the people who sailed the lakes, worked hand in hand with the lakes, and lived around the lakes. The Edmund Fitzgerald, having been afloat for only 17 years, was the largest and most respected of the ships that plied the North American Great Lakes. Its sinking was similar in impact to that of the Titanic, except that no one has made a crappy movie about it.
There are differing accounts as to how the great ship went down; there are no survivors and no one actually witnessed the sinking. A nearby ship was in contact with the stricken Fitz as they made their way towards safety in Whitefish Bay at the far eastern end of the lake, and was even tracking it on its radar. When the blip disappeared there was nothing but silence. Of the many theories of how the boat was sunk, including the one that the Coast Guard eventually subscribed to. I've read the entire Coast Guard report on the sinking, it's long and dry and boring. But basically what they decided was that leaking hatch covers that were improperly latched down caused the boat to take on excess water in the 30+ ft seas that were occurring that night. The added weight of the water and the added weight of the now water-logged Minnesota iron ore pellets in its hold eventually drug the ship to the bottom, taking all those men with it.
The thing about the Edmund Fitzgerald and its sinking is that it is by far the most publicised of all the ships that have sunk on the Great Lakes, and believe me there are a lot. There are tons and tons of wrecks littering the bottom of the lakes; you can actually take tours and see them. There are lots of books written about them. Many, many men and women have lost their lives at the hands of these dangerous but beautiful and vital waterways. So while we remember those 29 souls as the bell from the Fitz rings 29 times in the Maritime Museum in Detroit, we should also take time to remember the other men and women who have sunk to a similar watery grave in similar or worse circumstances. Men and women, who like the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald, gave their in service of creating a bigger and better society for us all. Take a moment of silence for it all please.


Anonymous said...

November 10 - Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service
. A memorial service for the men lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald was held on
November 10 at Dr. Henri Belanger Park in River Rouge, Mi.
The service will be held near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse beginning at 6:00 p.m.
The tug boat will be on hand to take out a wreath to be placed on the river.
The service will feature a plaque presentation, bell ringing, lantern lighting,
and refreshments will be served.

The service was at River Rouge Michigan on the Detroit River next to where the ship was
built at the slips and on the other side is where Zug Island is located.

A Special
Edmund Fitzgerald
Open House

Was open to the pubic from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the River Rouge Historical Museum

River Rouge Historical Museum
10750 W. Jefferson Ave.
River Rouge, Michigan 48218
(Formerly Gallagher Funeral Home)

Big Dave said...

Thanks for the info Anonymous. Truly a tragic event that should always live on in our hearts and minds.

Anonymous said...

S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald 38 Year Anniversary
November 10, 2013
RIVER ROUGE — A memorial service is planned for Sunday November 10, 2013 to remember the 29 men who died when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.
The ceremony is set for 6 to 8 p.m. and the heated tent open at 4:30 p.m. for viewing Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts, near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse at Belanger Park, off Belanger Park Drive and Marion.
The event is held in River Rouge because that’s the city where the vessel was built in 1957 and ’58.
Several speakers will give their memories of the ship, including people who helped construct it and relatives of some of the deceased crewmen.
Artifacts, photographs and videos also will be on display and you can talk to the Fitz Ship Builders, past Crew Members and Fitz Family Members.
At 7:10 p.m. — the time the ship sank — a wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River. A bell will be rung 29 times in memory of each person who died.
A plaque presentation and lantern lighting is planned. Food and Refreshments will be provided free of charge.
Event organizer Roscoe Clark has a Web site devoted to the vessel, which contains several video clips and photos of the ship.
Earlier in the day, an Edmund Fitzgerald open house will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. at the River Rouge Historical Museum, 10750 W. Jefferson Ave.
This year, the service will be web cast free of charge for those viewers all across the US and Canada.