During a Lake Superior gale on November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank suddenly, without sending any distress signals sank in 530 feet of Canadian waters at the entrance to Whitefish Bay. All 29 hands in the crew perished, presumably by drowning. The incident is the most famous disaster in the history of Great Lakes shipping.
I didn’t hear or read much about the tragedy yesterday, on its anniversary. But it became personal to me when a friend told me that her friends’ grandfather never returned from the Edmund Fitzgerald’s last voyage. I would like to do my part to remember him, and the other 28 men who never returned to their families. Fortunately, an enduring legacy has been left in a beautiful song by Gordon Lightfoot as well as in a piano concerto, “The Edmund Fitzgerald”. Also, the ship’s bell was recovered from the wreck on July 4, 1995, and is now in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point near Paradise, Michigan.
In my research, I tried to find similarities to the Andrea Doria shipwreck; due to the muddy waters in which the Fitzgerald rests, there aren’t many definite conclusions—unlike with the Doria disaster. However, one plausible similarity that strikes me is the way both vessels met the ocean floor: given the ships’ length vs. the depth of the water, the stern was probably above water when the bow hit bottom. The main difference is that on the Andrea Doria, all passengers that went under had already been killed by the impact from the Stockholm. The percentage was small:46 casualties out of 1706 people on board. With the Fitzgerald, none of the 29 on board were saved. I only hope that the men did not have much time to realize their fate.
I send my thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families.