10 November 1975
It was 37 years ago when the great iron-ore freighter went down in a stormy Lake Superior, taking 29 men with her.
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald spent 17 years hauling taconite iron ore from the the Iron Range of Minnesota to iron-works ports like Detroit and Toledo. The Fitzgerald was the workhorse of the Great Lakes, setting a record for a single haul, and setting seasonal haul records six times, often beating her previous record. In all, she traveled over a million miles across the Great Lakes.
The Fitzgerald encountered a major winter storm on Lake Superior at 1am on 10 November. Near hurricane-force winds produced waves at over 30 feet. The last communication came from the Fitzgerald at 7pm: “We are holding our own.” She sank just minutes later; no distress signal was received.
An interesting maritime fact: From 1816, when the “Invincible” sank, to 1975 when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down, 240 ships were lost in the area off Whitefish Point.
The historic Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, MN lights its beacon annually in honor of the twenty-nine men who went down with the Edmund Fitzgerald.