Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald


Monday, Nov. 10 marked the 39th anniversary since the Great Lakes largest freighter, the Edmund Fitzgerald, sank in the chilly waters of Lake Superior. 

During a severe storm on Lake Superior back in 1975, the 729-foot-long ship sank and claimed the lives of 29 passengers. The ship left Superior, Wisconsin on Nov. 9, 1975, according to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, and was heading towards Zug Island near Detroit. Gale warnings were issued that night — wind gust were 50 knots, while waves were up to 16 feet.

The conditions worsened, with wind of 58 knots, gusts up to 70 knots and waves up to 25 feet. The last communication with the Fitzgerald came at 7:10 p.m on Nov. 10 when the Captain radioed, "We are holding our own." The ship sank about 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan, where the Shipwreck Museum is located.

The tragedy has become one of the most distinguished Great Lakes shipwrecks and was famously memorialized by Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Investigations into the sinking led to changes in Great Lakes shipping regulations and practices, including mandatory survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems and more frequent inspections, according to the United States Coast Guard. 

Photo courtesy Don Harrison

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