Edmund Fitzgerald 25th anniversary of sinking

Jan C. Nielsen

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Dec 12, 1999
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The 25th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is November 10, 2000. Although not a major disaster in terms of loss of life, much has been written about the Fitzgerald. The wreck is perfectly preserved, and even some of its crewman are still down there, also perfectly preserved (the temperature of Lake Superior is cold, and preserves everything, see, e.g., the 1911 shipwreck at:

http://www.gunilda.com
 
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Karen Angstadt

Guest
Well I feel a little dumb. I always loved that song by Gordon Lightfoot, but honestly didn't know there was really a ship with that name. The article was very interesting.
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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Don't feel dumb, Karen, a lot of people haven't heard much about the Edmund Fitzgerald. There's a message board for researchers of Great Lakes ships, if you're interested. Check of the "research links" at "San Francisco Titanica" (listed under "Links" "General" on this website).
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Feb 13, 2001
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I"m just the opposite, Karen. I believe every song I hear, and am looking for the wrecks of the "Sloop John B" and the "Yellow Submarine."
 
Dec 4, 2000
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If anyone can get to Detroit...the "musty old hall" mentioned in Lightfoot's song is the Mariner's Cathedral located on the Detroit River. As a spontaneous reaction to news of the Fitz sinking, the bell was rung 29 times. Later a memorial service was held. That service has become a tradition. It honors not only the crew of the Fitz, but all sailors lost on the Great Lakes. Be sure to attend if you are ever in Motown. Bring hankies, there are never dry eyes by the end.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Karen Angstadt

Guest
I'll check that out, thanks Joe. Mike, you made me feel better, I KNEW there wasn't a yellow submarine
happy.gif
Karen
 
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Karen Angstadt

Guest
The article states that they found a body laying next to the ship. Is that possible?? I realize it's not very far down and a lake isn't the same as the ocean, but wouldn't there be decomposition?? Karen
 

Tracy Smith

Member
Apr 20, 2012
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South Carolina USA
I was a senior in high school when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down, and I'll never forget the anniversary.

Still get goosebumps and misty eyed every time I hear the Lightfoot song.

Can anyone recommend any good books about this sinking?
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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Karen,

The Lake preserves bodies very well, because below 100 feet the temperature remains very low year around. There's been some discussion of this on the Great Lakes Shipwreck Research message board. For example, the body of a crewman still exists in the engine room of the wreck of Kamloops, which sank in 1927 off Isle Royale.

In the 1970s, there was a diver who drowned while diving off of the S.S. Gunilda. His perfectly preserved body was found some five to ten years later, entangled in the wreck.

I've even heard a story to the effect that old bodies from shipwrecks have been washed ashore during intense Lake Superior storms. It seems incredible, but then, look at the instances of the Edmund Fitzgerald and Kamloops. So I suppose it's possible.

If you take a look at the Gunilda website (http://www.gunilda.com), you can see how well stuff is preserved in the Lake. Gunilda looks like how I hoped the Titanic would look - - before we found out, in 1985, what she actually looked like.

Dave, I haven't attended any, but I did watch the Discovery Channel program about the memorial services, and you're absolutely right - - bring a hankie, and maybe six boxes of kleenix, too.

Take care, everyone.
 
Nov 30, 2000
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Well, Robert J. Hemming's book "Gales Of November" is (IMHO) the ANTR of Fitzgerald writing.
There's also "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald", by Frederick Stonehouse.
Plus, there's an article by Thomas L. Farnquist about the 1995 Fitz expedition in the January 1996 issue of National Geographic.
On another Fitz-related note, the 1995 expedition has been the last visit to the wreck for some time. Perhaps forever. For the family members of the ship's crew wished that the wrecksite be declared off-limits to any futher visits, and (IIRC), it has been done.
I agree with that rule, for the Fitz is the grave of these men, and should be treated as such, and the fact that such a grave now is left to the dark depths of Lake Superior with no more lights to be shined upon it by vistors from the surface above gives their families much comfort.

Richard K.
 
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Karen Angstadt

Guest
Wow, the Gunilda looks like you could just walk down the stairway or play the piano it's so well preserved. That site says about raising it, but apparently they were unable to do that.
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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So, today is the day of the sinking. I'll quote a line from Lawrence Beesley's book in remembrance of the victims:

"Meanwhile we can say of them, as Shelley; himself the victim of a similar disaster, says of his friend keats in 'Adonais': ---

"Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep - -
He hath awakened from the dream of life - -
He lives, he wakes - - 'T is Death is dead, not he;
Mourn not for Adonais."
 
Nov 30, 2000
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Appropriate quote, Joe S. Very fitting.
IMHO, if it wasn't for Gordon Lightfoot's ballad about the ship, the Fitz would merely have joined the musty pages of the long roll of 6,000 (IIRC) ships that have been lost in the Great Lakes.
Fittingly, considering how recent in history the Fitz was and the terrible loss of all her crew, she instead became the most known and remembered Great Lakes shipwreck of all time.

Richard K.
 
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joseph mack

Guest
If anyone's interested,I have a Gordon Lightfoot website that has the lyrics to the Fitz.I'm not from Michigan,but I've heard the song before{have it}anna love it.Also,the article{debtnews.com}by Karen does not work.Can she look up the article anna send it to me via email?
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Over the years since the Fitz went down I've been collecting stories about the ship. The most disturbing came from a former Coast Guard ship inspector. Others are from sailors who served in the ship or were aboard other ships that season. While I've not attempted to sort fact from fiction, one conclusion is certain: nobody believes the "official" U.S. Coast Guard theory that leaking hatches caused the sinking.

The Fitz was supposed to be in a shipyard on the day it sank. Purpose: strengthen cracked structural members caused by the flexing of the hull over the years of service. The Coast Guard approved one more trip (the fatal one) because a sudden improvement in the national economy sent the demand for iron ore upward.

The Fitz was unusually limber. There were "tunnels" under the weather deck to allow crew to pass fore and aft without being exposed on deck. In heavy weather it was often impossible to see from one end of the tunnel to the other because the center of the ship would flex upward like the curve of the earth. I've seen photos of this in crew scrapbooks.

Most Great Lakes sailors believe the ship either began to come apart in the storm or struck on a shoal, opening the bottom. Either way, the bilge suction ran down the center of the cargo hold. Once the Fitz took a list, they could not pump water overboard. The ship just kept getting heavier as the crew attempted to make Whitefish Bay. The water won.

-- David G. Brown
 
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joseph mack

Guest
Hi all~
This is to everyone who ventures in here.Is there a way I can get a hold of Karen.When I click on her name,I can't send email.Hmmm.I need to ask her about the *debtnews* url she has up on her post.It don't work!!!Does anyone else have a copy of that article?Please email me if so.Thanks.

jp