Sunday, November 13, 2005

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

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The church bell chimed, 'til it rang 29 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 say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.
Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the 29 mariners lost when the 729-foot freighter was caught in storm Nov. 10, 1975, and sank as it carried a load of iron ore across Lake Superior.

At the time, it was the worst shipping disaster on the Great Lakes in 11 years.
The 729-foot freighter was caught in a catastrophic gale after taking on a load of taconite iron ore at Superior, Wis. Gusts exceeding 90 mph kicked up 30-foot waves as the ship struggled toward the safety of Whitefish Bay, in the lake's southeastern corner.

Capt. Ernest McSorley radioed the Arthur M. Anderson, a trailing freighter, 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, 530 feet 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.
Update: NPR's All Things Considered had a segment on the 30th Anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.