Skip to comments.Bell Tolls Anew for Mariners Lost in Edmund Fitzgerald Wreck
Posted on 11/10/2005 2:50:56 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin
WHITEFISH POINT, Mich. (AP) - Relatives of the 29 mariners lost with the Edmund Fitzgerald were honouring their memory Thursday, 30 years after the ore carrier sank in a vicious Lake Superior storm.
Hundreds of people were expected to gather Thursday evening for a memorial service at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, the nearest spot on land to the Fitzgerald gravesite 27 kilometres northwest.
Members of the crewmen's families and survivors of other shipwrecks were among those invited to ring the Fitzgerald bell during the ceremony. The bell was recovered by divers in 1995 and is on display at the museum.
The service was among many 30th-anniversary observances taking place in the Great Lakes region, where the Fitzgerald is the most famous of more than 6,000 known shipwrecks.
"The legend still seems to be growing," said Tom Farnquist, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, which operates the museum. "I'm surprised the Fitzgerald is still as popular as it is."
The Fitzgerald, a 222-metre freighter, was caught in a catastrophic gale Nov. 10, 1975, after taking on a load of taconite iron ore at Superior, Wis. Gusts exceeding 145 kilometres an hour kicked up nine-metre waves as the ship struggled toward the safety of Whitefish Bay, in the lake's southeastern corner.
Ernest McSorley, the ship's captain, radioed a trailing freighter, the Arthur M. Anderson, that the Fitzgerald had topside damage and was listing.
At 7:10 p.m., he told the Anderson's first mate, "We are holding our own."
It was the last anyone heard from the Fitzgerald.
The ship plunged to the bottom, 162 metres down. Diving expeditions later determined the freighter had broken into two large sections, its cargo strewn along the lake floor. No bodies have been recovered.
The cause of the sinking is still debated.
The official coast guard report said improperly fastened hatch covers may have enabled water to flood the cargo hold, weighing down the ship and eventually causing it to nosedive into a huge wave.
Others speculate that the Fitzgerald ventured too close to the Caribou Island shoal and scraped the bottom. Another theory: The ship broke apart on the surface.
The uncertainty is one reason for the story's lingering appeal, Farnquist said. Another is the Gordon Lightfoot ballad, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which made the tragedy a pop culture icon.
"There were modern aids to navigation, good weather forecasting . . . and yet a 729-foot ship disappears without a cry for help or survivors," Farnquist said. "The mystery prevails today, even after numerous dives have been conducted to explore for an answer."
Good Evening Wisconsin Conservative Politics Ping List Members. Just a reminder that Wisconsin lost a lot of brave men thirty years ago, this day.
There is already a thread running with this Diana.
Gordon Lightfoot immortalized this tragedy with a song that has remained a favorite of mine over many decades.
Here's a link if you want read more about the bell:
I think it'd be quite interesting to be at the bell ringing tonight and be that close to a real part of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Yes, I looked. They're just talking about Gordon Lightfoot's song in "Chat." I wanted something with a little more meat on it's bones, in memorium. You know, what people are actually doing today to remember "the brave ship and crew."
But, the Mods will decide as they hold our sad little lives in their hands, LOL! ;)
I came across another link that should appeal to most of you today:
Go to this site and watch a live webcast of the bell ringing at 6PM Eastern Time
I clicked on "Admin Moderator" and read about their powers. They are vast and amazing!
When I was in the U.P of Michigan with my folks several years ago, I was hoping to go to the museum at Whitefish Point, but we ended up not having time.
The bell is considered the soul of the ship.
Bump for the sailors who didn't come home to the wives and the sons and the daughters.
Thanks, Steve! I came across that one, too.
As much as I fear being out in open water, I really like ships and submarines and aircraft carriers for some reason. Lake Michigan freaks me out when we'd take "The Badger" (big ferry) on her first trip after the ice breaks up from Manitowoc and along the WI shore. I spend my time in the Gift Shop and the Bar with a few peeks out the window. ;)
My Dad has sailed across Lake Michigan, but has never tackled Superior, and probably won't now that he's in his 70's. (He's Retired Navy.) He says the ocean is actually safer than a freshwater lake. (I don't know if that's true.) I, however, get the heebee-jeebies when I can't see shore from at least one side. I've fished on the shores of Superior and in some of her inlet streams (for trout), but I've never been out on her.
Guess that's why I went Army instead of Navy. They might push me out of a plane or a chopper, but at least there'd be solid land beneath me, LOL!
Thanks for the links and the pix. Very nice! :)
Your dad was right! I am a former Merchant Marine Office and actually got the chance to sail on a great lakes carrier in 1964, as a Cadet. It was a wonderful experience.
The problem with the lakes is that storms come up fast and unlike ocean storms that produce large rolling swells. Waves come up fast on the lakes and can be more dangerous than ocean waves.
Also, there is not as much maneuvering room on the lakes, except Lake Superior, which many sailors prefer.
The museum is near my home and I took my nephews there in Sept. Awesome place. BTW, I was grocery shopping the other day and saw the Arthur M. Anderson at the Soo Locks. (she was behind the Fitz on the night she went down)
I've heard that, too. Perhaps because salt water is so much more buoyant.
I, however, get the heebee-jeebies when I can't see shore from at least one side.... Guess that's why I went Army instead of Navy. They might push me out of a plane or a chopper, but at least there'd be solid land beneath me, LOL!
My brother, who started fishing the Pacific commercially at the age of 14, was often 200-plus miles out at sea for weeks at a time. When the boat was in port and my brother was busy doing the never-ending maintenance and upkeep, tourists would often wander by to chat.
A couple of giggly tourist girls, no doubt impressed by my brother's rugged good looks (sun-bleached shiny golden hair, deep tan, vivid blue eyes, very handsome), once asked him breathlessly, "Do you ever get very far from land?" He shrugged carelessly and said, "Nah, never more than a few miles, really." What he didn't add, so amused was he at their obvious disappointment: "Never more than a few miles ... straight down!"
Note I said bodies not bones. The water is so cold that the normal decay is not happening.
:shiver: Learning that creeped me out for some reason.
Recently re-done as "The Wreck of the Patrick Fitzgerald."