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Michigan trivia buffs - 29th Anniversary


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Today is the 29th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, immortalized in song by Gordon Lightfoot.

At the time it was launched in 1958, the 729-foot long, 75-foot wide freighter S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship to ply the Great Lakes. On November 10, 1975 the Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin carrying 26,000 tons of iron ore pellets, bound for Detroit. Though the day was bright, in her path lay a terrible storm with 60 MPH winds and waves in excess of 15 feet. As the storm built, her experienced Captain Ernest McSorley bore north across Lake Superior, seeking the relative shelter of the Canadian shore and Whitefish Bay.

Luck was not with the ship or the crew. The radar system and its backup failed. The storm took out the power to Whitefish Point's light and radio beacon. Though the light was brought back on line, the radio beacon was not. The Arthur M. Anderson, another ship within 10 miles of the Fitzgerald, received reports that the ship was listing to the starboard and of other structural damages to the vessel. At 7:10 PM, Captain McSorley delivered what was to be his final message:

"We're holding our own."

The Arthur M. Anderson lost the Fitzgerald's image on its radar screensat 7:25 PM. The ship and crew of 29 men, sank to the bottom of Lake Superior.

Several expeditions have been mounted to the wreck and have been the subject of some controversy. On July 4th, 1995 the ship's bell and stanchion were recovered from where they lay beneath 550 feet of Lake Superior. A replica of the bell, graven with the names of the crew, was left in its place. The bell was presented to the relatives of the crew and rung thirty times -- once for each member of the crew and a final time in honor of all those who have lost their lives at sea. The bell was given to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point to serve as a memorial to the ship and crew. (text taken from http://www.nauticalworks.com/fitz)

The tragic story of the Edmund Fitzgerald is remembered through Gordon Lightfoot's ballad "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald", which appears on the album "Summertime Dream" and numerous other compilations.

The Wreck Of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Summertime Dream) 6:28

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more

Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.

That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed

When the gales of November came early.

The ship was the pride of the American side

Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin

As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most

With a crew and good captain well seasoned

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms

When they left fully loaded for Cleveland

And later that night when the ship's bell rang

Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound

And a wave broke over the railing

And every man knew, as the captain did too,

T'was the witch of November come stealin'.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait

When the Gales of November came slashin'.

When afternoon came it was freezin' rain

In the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'.

Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya.

At Seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in, he said

Fellas, it's been good t'know ya

The captain wired in he had water comin' in

And the good ship and crew was in peril.

And later that night when his lights went outta sight

Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does any one know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The searches all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay

If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.

They might have split up or they might have capsized;

May have broke deep and took water.

And all that remains is the faces and the names

Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings

In the rooms of her ice-water mansion.

Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;

The islands and bays are for sportsmen.

And farther below Lake Ontario

Takes in what Lake Erie can send her,

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know

With the Gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,

In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral.

The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times

For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call 'Gitche Gumee'.

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early!

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It didn't sink in 75, either. Had to have gone done in the early 70s, because the song was a big hit in the Fall of 73 at MIT.

I'm going to have to do some research into this. I've found where it's listed as 1975 when the ship sank, but if that's true, then I'm losing what's left of my mind...

a little while later......

It's official. I've lost my mind.

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Uhhhh...the radio said it was the 29th anniversary....the rest I posted from a website...

Not sure on song popularity and all that other stuff - according to everything I've read, the boat sank in 1975, 10th of November. http://www.boatnerd.com/fitz/

The song....more searching...Song was published 10/01/1976


Checking out CD Universe for all Lightfoot albums, the song did not appear on anything older than Summertime Dream - released in 1976.

Found your mind yet, Fay?

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Nope. It appears to be well and truly gone this time. Will you still be my friend when I can't remember who I am, let alone who you are?

I can remember hearing that song for the first time so clearly...and if it came out in 1976 then there is now way I heard it when I remember hearing it. And that, Miss Flakey, scares the heck out of me.

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Gee, Fay...if you can't remember me, we can be BESTEST friends! :wink:

Maybe it was another song, or you're confusing memories...I've done that. Heck, I "remembered" that Gordon Lightfoot died a few years ago - and he didn't, as pointed out by FRANK... :roll:

The 70s were full of ballads, maybe you're thinking of something similar...maybe?

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