The 48th Anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The 48th Anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald Nov 10, 2023
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48 years ago, a significant fall storm swept over the Great Lakes, claiming the mighty iron ore carrier, the Edmund Fitzgerald. The tragic event, which occurred on November 10, 1975, at approximately 7:20 pm, resulted in the loss of 29 lives. Gordon Lightfoot’s poignant lyrics in the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” capture the haunting essence of that ill-fated night, referring to the “witch of November come stealin’.” SS Edmund Fitzgerald - Wikipedia

The ship succumbed to a fierce fall storm on Lake Superior, and while weather conditions played a definitive role, the exact details of the sinking remain shrouded in mystery. The Edmund Fitzgerald went down swiftly and with minimal warning, a victim of the strong November Gale, often referred to in the song as the “November Witch.”

The 1975 storm was of exceptional intensity, featuring 20-foot waves on Lake Superior and winds gusting over 50 knots (90 km/h). The severe weather was concentrated along the storm’s trajectory, particularly harsh in the waters of eastern Lake Superior, precisely where the Edmund Fitzgerald found itself—a tragic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Termed a weather bomb, the storm underwent rapid pressure drop from 1000mb over Kansas to 978mb over James Bay in less than 24 hours, catching the ship and its crew almost entirely without warning.

Annually, memorial services are conducted to honour the 29 lives lost, including the significant event at Whitefish Point, Michigan, near the final resting place of the ship. This year’s memorial will be held virtually, emphasizing the lasting impact of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s sinking. The recovered bell from the ship, rung 30 times each year at Whitefish Point on the anniversary, serves as a poignant tribute to all 29 men on board and the countless others who have perished on Lake Superior. The ship rests in 162 meters (about 530 feet) of water, just inside the Canadian boundary, 17 miles north of Whitefish Point, Michigan.

Departing from Superior, Wisconsin, on November 9th, 1975, loaded with 26,116 tons of taconite pellets en route to Detroit, the Edmund Fitzgerald’s tragic voyage has left an indelible mark on maritime history. Chilling radio chatter and a collection of photos from 1975 are preserved at www.shipwreckmuseum.com/edmundfitzgerald, serving as a somber reminder of the events that unfolded on that fateful night.

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